Keuhne Ready to Start Playing Better

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NAPLES, Fla. - Hank Kuehne was expecting big things this time last year as he stood with partner Jeff Sluman and accepted the trophy for winning the Franklin Templeton Shootout. Long-hitting Kuehne and short-hitting Sluman teamed to shoot 29-under in the three-round tournament, two shots better than Justin Leonard and Steve Flesch.
 
Now, one year later, Kuehne is still waiting and hoping. He kept his card this year, finishing 102nd on the money list. But almost $600,000 of his $786,817 came in two tournaments, with a tie for second in the John Deere and a fourth in The International. And though he made the cut in only 12 of 28 starts, he is just thankful to be living this privileged life.
 
I'm living my dream, said Kuehne. I'm happy to be here. I'm lucky just to be alive with everything I've been through, much less finishing second in PGA Tour events. I've got no regrets.
 
Kuehne, as usual, finished high up in the distance category ' he was sixth in driving with 307.7 yards. But he finished 196th in driving accuracy, and thus finished 174th in greens hit. Such figures wont get you near the top on the PGA Tour.
 
But the tall, slender Kuehne is still a work in progress. And the process was severely interrupted when he was in college at Oklahoma State. He was an alcoholic, had suicidal tendencies, and was involved in a near-fatal auto accident.
 
But the 30-year-old has worked hard to get back to where he came from. And where he came from is from a golfing family with a top amateur for an older brother, Trip, and a younger sister who plays on the LPGA, Kelli.
 
Neither one of my parents play golf, explained Hank. I mean, my dad is an 85 shooter and my mom has played nine holes maybe five times in her life.
 
So, my brother and my dad, we played every sport you could play, and my dad thought my brother was going to be too small to play the other sports. So he started getting him golf lessons when he was nine, and I of course wanted to do whatever my big brother did, so they'd give me a club and a bucket of balls to get out of the way. And my brother and I and my dad would drive around playing golf. At that point I started taking lessons, too, and I really enjoyed the game because it was difficult. All the other sports were really easy.
 
Hank started playing in the American Junior Golf Assn. when he was 11 years old. But Kelli was still around the house, and she eventually began playing, too.

She was playing tennis traveling around with my mom, and then it was me and my brother and my dad driving around playing tournaments, said Hank. And I talked her (Kelli) into playing golf when she was 11 so we could all travel together.
 
And now, he plays on the PGA Tour, where he makes no apologies for having earned the reputation as a power player.
 
I just try to play golf, he said. If that means I'm going to hit it 330, I'll hit it 330. If that means I'm going to hit it 270, I'll hit it 270.
 
I think a lot of it depends on the golf course and what the golf course will give you. I think I have the ability to hit it a long way, kind of where I want to when I need to, but that's really not the best way to play golf all the time. I'm just trying to work my way around the golf course and give myself the best opportunities to succeed rather than the shortest.
 
In fact, he doesnt even know if he would be playing this game if he only popped it out there 270 or 280.
 
I have the ability to hit shots that other guys can't hit on the golf course, he said. I can knock it over things that guys can't fly it over. I can do things that some guys can't do. But I think it's just the way that I play golf. You know, I'm never going to be Fred Funk. That's just not going to happen.
 
Quite honestly, if I played golf that way, I don't know if I would know how to play golf because I've never done it before. So I've always felt like I've managed my game well, considering the options that I have out there.
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Franklin Templeton Shootout