'I just haven't hit the ball very well,' said Curtis Strange. 'I've been working at it as much as I thought I would, but it comes down to ball-striking, especially out on this tour.'
Strange plays in the Administaff Small Business Classic this week, with only one more tourney waiting before the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Strange has had a difficult time after turning 50 Jan. 30. He has played in 17 events, but in only two has he finished in the top 10.
One of them, of course, was just three weeks ago at the Constellation Energy Classic when he finished third. But then it was back to the same-ol'-same-ol', a tie for 24th in the SAS Championship. And last week he was slowed by the flu, dropping out of the Greater Hickory Classic before the second round.
After spending nearly six years in the television booth with ABC, Strange has found it more difficult to get in playing shape than he thought. His putting has been good, the eighth best on the tour, but he stands 59th in driving distance, 68th in fairways hit and 53rd in greens hit in regulation.
Actually, this isnt entirely a new experience to him. As a television analyst, he did several Champions Tour events, including majors. I knew the players, obviously, Strange said. I knew the atmosphere, which is more sedate and calm and relaxed than the PGA Tour. And so I knew pretty much what to expect, yes.
What he didnt have a reason to expect was the difficulty he would have in acclimating to the playing style. Strange twice won the U.S. Open, and even an extensive tour in the television booth didnt prepare him for the hard times which have come his way. Maybe its because he hadnt truly been trying to win when he played the last few years.
When I played the last three, four, five years on the regular tour, it was more to be around the guys, said Strange, It was more for my TV work, it was kind of to go out and knock the cobwebs off four or five times a year. And it served its purpose very well.
But I didn't play very well doing that. What I'm getting at is there was no real - other than a purpose of TV work - there was not a real goal in sight of playing.
And now all of a sudden come last November when I started working, there was something to push for - to play well and to compete again.
And it has been somewhat difficult to feel the butterflies again, the nervousness of again being around the top of the leaderboard.
Apprehensive to the point of not really quite sure what to expect, is the way Strange phrases it. Whereas, when you're playing well and playing well day to day and playing a lot of tournament, years ago, it was - that's what you try to do, obviously. And you expected it.
'But it's getting better. It's getting better. I sprinkled too many bad rounds around a couple good rounds. But at least I shot some good rounds. That's the good thing.
And in case hes forgotten a few things, it didnt take long for him to remember. He had to remind myself how tough this game really is. I think when you get in the booth, you forget in a hurry, because you don't know what to expect.
This time in his life, though, its time to enjoy the fruits of his prior success. Back 25 years ago, golf was so different. It was a need back then - not WANTING to play well, but HAVING to play well. Both financially, wanting to make a name for yourself.
Now it's not quite like that. Doesn't mean I don't want to go try to beat the guys, try and beat them, yeah. But it's a little different.