For Excellence and Longevity He Stands Alone


Quick now, name the first player to amass $6 million in earnings. Seven mil. Eight mil. The first to win $9 million.
No, it isn't the obvious guess, Tiger Woods. No, it wasnt Greg Norman. Curtis Strange? Nope.
If you said Tom Kite, its obvious you ' like me ' were looking at a PGA Tour media guide. Tom Kite, 5-9 inches tall in his trademark gardeners hat, was the most consistent golfer of all in the era from the early 80s all through to the mid-90s two No. 1s in money, a No. 3, a couple of No. 5s, 10 times out of 13 years in the top 10. Twice more he was 15th or better.
Was Kite as good a player as Norman? He was over that 15-year period. Norman, when he was good, couldnt be beaten. But over a long period, Kites statistics are brilliant, though individual seasons werent really his gee-whiz kind of stuff. Tom Kite was really just a solid, solid player who could, occasionally, turn on the brilliance.
I say this because two weeks ago Tom Kite was elected to golfs Hall of Fame. Tom certainly isnt one to crow about it, but if you ask him point-blank, theres no question that he is proud, thrilled and awed ' all at once.
Obviously, I am very pleased - now that Ive had the chance to absorb it and to hear so many great comments from so many fans and friends said Kite, and if you know Tom, you realize how momentous that statement is. He was at the Brunos Memorial Classic in Birmingham this week on the Champions Tour, and if you asked, he would flat-out tell you what an honor it is. He was lying when he said that he had to have the chance to absorb it.
Its quite a nice feeling to have a chance to be added to that list, he said. I mean, youre talking about a small, small number of people in the Hall of Fame. And when you start talking about the actual players versus those who contributed to the game, its even a smaller number. So to be on that list is pretty good stuff.
Kite was thinking about his chances two years ago when his childhood pal Ben Crenshaw was elected. Crenshaw showed signs of greatness, actually winning 19 times along with two Masters. He bluntly predicted victory in his only Ryder Cup captaincy after the Americans were down big in the 2001 Ryder Cup ' and the U.S indeed won. But Crenshaws career, as sparkling as it was, doesnt measure up in over-all excellence to Kites.
And when Kite didnt make it after last years ballot, doubts that he would ever get there began to creep in.
I obviously had hopes when Ben got inducted two years ago ' he went in with Harvey Penick, said Tom. I looked at the things Ben has done throughout his career and the things I have done, and theyve been very, very similar. I probably had a little bit longer longevity than he did, maybe a little more consistent for a longer period of time than he had, but in terms of the wins and things like that, were very similar.
Indeed, Kite also won 19 times on the regular tour. He won the 1992 U.S. Open. He, too, was a Ryder Cup captain. The numbers were almost identical ' except that Kite was the most consistent player in the world for 15 years.
So - when he (Crenshaw) went in, I really had hopes that I had a chance to get in, said Kite. And then, when I didnt get in last year, it was kind of like ' Ooo, well, maybe Im gonna get passed by.
'So obviously, when I heard this year ' Tim Finchem called me and told me, I was very proud, most pleased.
But he neednt have worried. The voters proved that they hadnt forgotten him, and they didnt think less of his accomplishments. This time its his turn ' and its richly deserved.
And, enough of the gentlemanly, self-deprecating stuff. For once in his long and storied career, Kite is happy to let the world know that hes had ' well, a Hall of Fame career.
Obviously, Im proud of a number of things Ive done and the number of wins I had, the honors Ive been given ' to win the Bobby Jones award, captain of the Ryder Cup team, all the tournament wins and things, Im very proud of that, said Kite, ticking off just a few of his numerous accomplishments.
I really am pleased the fact I was able to build a game, I guess be passionate enough and enjoy the game so much that Im still playing and I love to do it.
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