Strange Begins Strange New Tour

By George WhiteFebruary 18, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 ACE Group ClassicNAPLES, Fla. -- Hey look, ma ' the TV guy is playing!
Curtis Strange isnt quite sure the TV guy is the moniker he wants to go by as he plays the Champions Tour for the first time, competing as rookie at the ACE Classic (Fri., 1:30 p.m. ET on TGC) this weekend. But for the last eight years he was a television analyst, calling em as he saw em, for the ABC network. Now he isnt sure what greeting he will get from the crowds at Naples.
When you do the TV gig, you go from a player - Hes the guy who plays, you know, said Strange. But then when you go for eight years (being an announcer), you all of a sudden become more recognizable ' trust me on this ' than when you won two U.S. Opens. True ' especially in the days when you have all the TV.
Strange was a remarkable player for a long time, indeed winning the U.S. Open in back-to-back years in 1988 and 1989. He won 17 times during his career. But now he wonders who will remember.
I did 19 events (announcing) for eight years in a row, he said. During the Tiger stretch -- we had a lot of Tiger, which makes a difference with big audiences. We did the British Open every year; we had a lot of big events.
So Ill hear that ' the TV guy is playing. You better get youre (tail) back in the booth.
Strange laughed heartily for a moment. He really doesnt mind if the gallery recalls him primarily for his television work - initially. But he hopes that they soon will have another reason for recognizing him. He hopes his play will again make him a player to remember, and not his occupation.
Ill hear some of that for awhile, he said. It wont last for a long time ' who remembers Trevino and Fuzzy, who did TV for four or five years. Nobody of my generation remembers that.
Strange knows that he is pretty far removed from that guy who used to win U.S. Opens, even if he is competing now against the gents on the Champions Tour. The only antidote for a game which has been in mothballs is time ' and lots and lots of play.
Ive been working at it very seriously, Ive been taking it very seriously, said Strange. Now Ive just got to go play.
The thing I need more than anything is competition ' competition every day, playing. I dont care if its pro-ams, I dont care if its Friday though Sunday of the event, Im playing golf. Because Ive hit a lot of balls, but its a different animal, hitting balls and playing golf.
Strange has an edge over most of the players who were 49, about to become 50. He already KNOWS how good the older gents are. He did a few Champions events each year on ABC, and no one will have to tell him this week that hes underestimating these guys.
He knows, also, that he has to really want to play. He cant manufacture that feeling.
Theres nothing you can manufacture, he says in a moment of candor. Theres nothing you can manufacture. If you really want to go play, you go play. Its just something you go do.
I feel that way this week ' very much so. There were times I had it the last five, eight years ' I played once I a blue moon, all of a sudden Id play well, Id play a couple of weeks in a row, Id say, Damn, lets go try to do something.
But again, you cant fake it. You know, Im ready to go. Thats all I can say. I dont know any other way to say it except that Im very enthusiastic, Im ready to go, Im enjoying the work I have to put in. I need a lot of work on my short game ' a lot of work.
Strange is anxious to play. Hes anxious to feel that old anxiety over a difficult golf shot. He is ready once again to read the schedule and see what events he will be playing. And ' hes anxious to see all the guys he used to compete against, and hes anxious to see if he can eventually beat them again.
I want to physically get back to playing golf, Strange said. Its hard to explain. But its different when youre playing for $2 a hole, and when youve got to hit a 6-iron into a crossing wind to a back-left hole location with a deep bunker staring you in the face. Thats something you get used to, you know, pulling the shot off.
I havent had a shot really mean something in many, many years ' that really meant anything. So thats where I come from ' Ive got to get back and used to that. Now, hopefully it doesnt take long. But it might. I think Ill have the guts to hit that shot. But its a matter of just doing it.
Strange said he wont measure success this year by wins and losses. He will gauge success initially just by the number of solid shots he hits. This week there are 78 players in the field, and Strange says if you are going by the theory that success is limited only to the player who wins, then there are 77 of us who will go from here unhappy. That will drive you nuts.
And so, Strange pulls into this stop in his career with eyes wide open. He didnt start thinking about the Champions Tour, frankly, until only a few years ago. He never did think about what this day would bring when he was 25 or 30 ' because when youre 25 or 30, youve never going to be 50. Then it was time again for a hearty laugh.
Curtis Strange begins today with his eyes wide open and with calluses on his hands. Hes tried as best he can to get ready. He realizes he will only get in tournament shape by playing in tournaments. But still, there is a small part of him that cant wait for the opening tee shot Friday.
This intrigues me, he confessed. I want to see if I can do it again ' reasonably well again. Its all about hitting shots, pulling off shots, that someone else wont be able to do.
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.