Kite Makes Big Rebound at 56


Champions TourIt was 30 years ago that Tom Kite won his first professional golf championship ' the 1976 IVB-Bicentennial Golf Classic in Philadelphia.
He proceeded to win a total of 19 times on the PGA TOUR. In 2000, after his 50th birthday, he jumped to the Champions Tour and has now won eight times. Now 56, he goes after No. 9 at a tournament with a new name ' the Regions Charity Classic (Begins Fri. at 6PM/ET on TGC), which replaces the old Brunos Memorial Classic - at a new course, the Robert Trent Jones Trail and Ross Bridge in Birmingham, Ala. Brunos was played in the southern suburbs of Birmingham.
Kite has already won once this year, at the AT&T Classic six weeks ago, after failing to notch a victory last year.
'This puts me on the road,' he said at the time. 'I wouldn't say it gets me back, but this is a huge win because it's been a long time. The longer you go without a win, the more difficult it is.'
Kite won six times in his first 64 events on the Champions Tour, but then went 48 events without a victory from October 2002 through August 2004, and then went another 19 months before winning this year.
'When I first got out here I was kind of thinking this Champions Tour was pretty easy, and then I got in a drought and kind of struggled with it,' Kite said.
'I know that if I play up to my caliber, if I play up to my standard, it's good enough to win a lot of tournaments, and I think I'm as good a player when it gets to be tough as anybody out here.'
Undoubtedly one of the major reasons for his return to the Champions Tour contender list has been his putting. Early in his regular-tour career he was an outstanding putter, but in his late 40s he began losing it. Throughout most of his Champions career he was a mediocre putter at best. But since he began using the claw grip last year, he has seen great improvement. He currently ranks as 10th best on the tour.
'At times out here on the Champions Tour and the last few years on the PGA TOUR I've kind of fought my putter,' he said. 'But now my putter is getting very, very good. I'm really starting to swing well again so I'm very encouraged and very, very optimistic about what's going to happen over the next year, year and a half.'
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