The 1998 U.S. Amateur Champion, who won a pair of events in his 2002 Canadian Tour rookie season, made the biggest move in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index rankings, moving up 692 spots to 218th place. European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance vaulted 626 spots, the second-highest jump of any player ranked at the beginning of the year.
Kuehne recently advanced to the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying and will have non-exempt status on the Nationwide (formerly Buy.com) Tour this coming season.
After battling through some much-publicized injury woes over the past few years, the long-hitting Kuehne returned with a bang in 2002 and had by far his most successful year as a pro. Prior to the campaign, the 27-year-old received a tip from the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who insisted Kuehne lighten his left-hand grip as the duo played a round together. The advice paid huge dividends, as Kuehne began to eliminate hooks while his ball flight began to fade rather than draw. The results were almost immediate; Kuehne began the season with four straight top-five showings, including a triumph at the Texas Challenge in Austin, TX back in March. Of the 46 rounds he played on the Canadian Tour this season, Kuehne shot in 60s 26 times.
I drove it well all year, Kuehne told Jeff Rude of Golfweek. Im finally able to match my arm speed with my body speed and fast hips. Fading the ball has made a huge difference. Before, I used to miss it right and left. I went from somebody who hit it far and didnt know if hed hit the fairway to someone who hits it really far and straight.
Other Canadian Tour players also climbed up the ranks in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, ON improved 435 spots, which was the 15th-best movement, while American Mario Tiziani and Iain Steel of Malaysia moved up 414 and 343 places, respectively.