Tom Strange has actually been unable to do 23 years now. Yet to know his son, to recognize why Curtis strange doesn"t intend to overcome American golf again, and why he to be frightened come the core by a still-undiagnosed illness, one must an initial explore Tom"s life.
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Tom Strange was an accomplished golfer and also attentive father. He won scores the amateur tournaments in Virginia, stop his task at a Norfolk it is provided company, ended up being a society professional, and taught the video game to his twin sons, Curtis and also Allan.
Tom dreamy of owning his very own golf course, and in 1969 he started negotiating a deal to purchase White Sands country Club in Virginia Beach. However cancer the the lymph nodes waited because that no dream, and also Tom Strange died at age 38. Curtis and Allan were 14.
During the previous two years, Curtis has actually been challenged by Tom"s past. The sees the opportunity to come to be a better father, come cavort with his two sons like Tom did through his. However Curtis wonders, during his darkest moods, if he, too, will die young.
""I"m fighting mine own small battle ideal now,"" Strange said as he ready for this week"s Anheuser-Busch standard at Kingsmill, his house course.
The fight was joined two years back as Strange, v an ardor few could match, check to success his 3rd consecutive United claims Open, the competition annually contested Father"s day weekend. At Medinah in suburban Chicago, the trailed by only two strokes entering the final round, however faded come a 21st-place tie v a close up door 75.
""I"ll never forget the emotion I had leaving the golf course,"" strange said. ""That"s once it was over. ... I never ever quite got the same enthusiasm back.""
The listless strange is winless due to the fact that the 1989 Open, his longest drought due to the fact that joining the PGA tour in 1977. But while the regression that his golf to be ""frustrating,"" the deterioration of his health was ""scary.""
The primary symptom was overwhelming fatigue, a notion international to Strange, one avid runner, hunter, fisherman and social animal.
""Last year in ~ the British open up we had a 9:30 tee time,"" claimed Allan, who was caddying because that Curtis. ""We were an alleged to be the end the door by 7:30. At 7:15 he was still in bed saying, `Give me 15 more minutes." it was choose he was in a fog all day. Ns guess it"s like a really poor hangover there is no the headache. ...
""It spooked me. We"re quick approaching the age when (Tom) died, and also there"s miscellaneous spooky around that.""
""It was an extremely scary, very frightening,"" claimed Sarah Strange, Curtis" wife. ""I would notification differences in his character. Looking back, us realize it had been going on much longer than we had actually thought because it crept increase on us and reached a crescendo.""
The crescendo came last august after the PGA Championship. Strange checked into the mei Clinic, where medical professionals theorized that stress was the culprit. Strange disagreed, as did physicians in brand-new York and at the Cleveland Clinic.
But nobody has available a conclusive diagnosis.
""It"s type of scary,"" strange said. ""But once you"ve been seen by the finest doctors in the world and everything look at OK as much as they have the right to tell, you simply go about your business. The doctors just said it"s other I"ll have to fight through.""
Strange the skilled golfer had constantly waged his wars on the course, onstage. But this fight was private, and Strange uncharacteristically withdrew into a shell.
""I have avoided a the majority of the media and the public because I"ve take away this whole thing as kind of a personal thing,"" he said. ""It"s kind of my business, me and also my family. Ns don"t want human being asking too countless questions. I"ve been kind of defensive about it, i guess. Once you don"t feel good, friend don"t action so great sometimes.""
Indeed, after shoot a first-round 67 at critical month"s U.S. Open, Strange was asked in a news conference around his condition: ""It"s fine,"" he said. ""Next question.""
Relaxed under a tree behind the Kingsmill practice range this week, an introspective weird spoke easily of the previous two years.
""It"s much, lot better,"" he claimed of his health. ""I"ve been to run again the last six weeks. I"m ago in shape, and also that provides me feeling 100 percent better. There"s a lot of world sicker than I am. Ns don"t average to be crying the blues.""
But favor Allan, Curtis can"t forget that their father passed away of cancer.
""You constantly think the things like that, especially in these times,"" Curtis said. ""Cancer is together a significant influence on everybody. It"s touch everybody"s life. However they check you out, and that"s other they have the right to see.""
Throughout his illness, Strange has spent more time at his Kingsmill house than top top the roadway playing golf. Last fall, the went six weeks there is no hitting a golf sphere for the very first time in his memory.
Strange enjoyed his sabbatical native golf, specifically the time he invested with Sarah and also sons Thomas, 9, and also David, 7.
""Just being around more,"" weird said. ""I missed castle both riding bikes because that the very first time. Ns missed Thanksgivings and also Halloweens, points they believed a lot of that i didn"t think lot of. Now I"m getting much more to their level. Household is mine No. 1 priority.""
There are an ext trips to baseball games, much more honing that the boys" golf skills. Tuesday on the practice tee, both took turns hitting part balls through Dad"s clubs. Recently, the three attended a youth golf camp in Houston, wherein Curtis mingled with around 50 kids. Strange also has bring away up eye skiing v the family.
""Ten years ago, Curtis would certainly not have even thought around going out and skiing and endangering a limb,"" claimed tour colleague Bruce Lietzke. ""But it"s a family members activity. ... If Curtis would have had a pair of off years without his household or activities off the golf course, he would have actually been a candidate for the rubber room. He just wouldn"t have actually been maybe to accept a pair of turn off years.""
""Familywise, it"s to be so nice to have actually him home,"" buy it said. ""Actually, it"s spoiled every one of us. It makes his leave a many harder and also absences a many harder. The kids are obtaining to a stage where they recognize what"s walking on. There"s a lot an ext camaraderie in between he and also the boys. In fact, I"m finding myself left the end a entirety lot. ...
""Curtis is not lot of a baby father. He doesn"t understand what specifically to perform with them. He"ll hold them and also do what you ask, yet then he"ll say, `Now what?" however then this morning, Thomas and also I took the dog come the vet, and also I left Curtis and also David top top the floor wrestling, and then ns look up and also they"re running roughly the house, and Curtis is chasing him.""
Tom Strange, that was once an assistant pro at White Sulpher Springs in West Virginia under Sam Snead, approached fatherhood the very same way. If he had to take trip to a state tournament throughout the weekend, he carted the boys with him.
""He to be the ideal amateur in Virginia, and also he can have been a touring pro, yet Tom to be a family members man,"" claimed Bill Neal, a friend and golfing buddy of Tom"s. Fourteen years ago, Neal married Tom"s widow, Nancy, that had worked in a financial institution to raise Curtis, Allan and sister ann after Tom"s death.
Curtis knows the price Tom paid, and he will pay, for devotion come family. Golf, the standard by which so countless judge him, will certainly suffer.
Strange has actually just one top-10 complete this season, and only 12 in his critical 61 tournaments dating ago to 1989. In 63 tournaments before this slump, Strange had actually 24 top-10 finishes and eight victories. The led the PGA tourism money list in 1985, "87 and also "88; he to be 53rd in 1990, 48th in "91 and is 96th this year.
Like tennis player Jimmy Connors, Strange relies as lot on thin will and guts as talent. His relentless, final-round 70 at the 1989 open at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., is the perfect illustration: 16 consecutive pars, complied with by a dramatic birdie and also safe bogey because that a 1-stroke victory.
""I took offense one time as soon as someone dubbed me an overachiever,"" strange said. ""But i guess ns am. I"m not some supernatural sphere striker or anything.""
""He"s as well apathetic and also too lot a gentleman,"" Allan said. ""He"s just one more run-of-the-mill good golfer appropriate now. I"m not certain he"ll ever get earlier to the plateau he was on 3 or four years ago.""
""Quite honestly, ns doubt he"ll ever get as focused as that was three or four years ago,"" stated tour veteran Robert Wrenn the Richmond. ""Over the last 6 or eight years, Curtis has actually done one awful most playing, not just here, but abroad, overseas, and he"s make a heck of a many money. I think he felt choose he remained in his prime.
""He"d winner a pair of U.S. Opens. He to be marketable and also he was trying to perform what he could, businesswise, and also I think that schedule finally captured up with him.""
Strange, who played in Asia, Africa, Europe and also Australia, walk not dispute either assessment. Neither does Sarah.
""Curtis is a driven person,"" she said. ""A the majority of that has actually taken a earlier seat to family life, which perhaps in a good respect is more of a balanced life.""
""You just change,"" strange said. ""I"ve been at this a lengthy time now. My purposes are different. Yeah, to be No. 1 top top the money list would be great again, but I don"t think it"s really realistic come think in those terms. I don"t play in as countless tournaments any more. I don"t go at that in the exact same fashion. I"m not rather as demanding ~ above myself together I provided to be.
""My an ideas has changed so much. I"m learning. I"m coping. Right currently I"m in the process of learning exactly how to try to turn it on and also off, come be home for a week or two and also play much less golf, yet still play great golf.
""I to be going come play less golf, play most likely 25 mainly a year rather of 35 main a year. Time haven"t been good the last pair of years, and also I haven"t played as well as I would have actually liked. It"s been an eye-opener. But I still gain the hell out of it.
""I can"t think of anything rather in the civilization I"d ever think around doing the would get me pumped the method golf does, coming down to the critical hole, or a U.S. Open up or a Masters.""
Strange insists he can remain competitive and also win tournaments. At its worst, his disease left that wobbly over shots, however that has passed. The an essential to Strange"s golf now is between his ears.
""I think he"s hitting it just and he ever did,"" Wrenn said.
""His game is still there,"" Lietzke said. ""He may surprise himself as soon as he finds what level he deserve to get back to. He might not have the ability to sustain that for two or three years like when he was among top 2 or 3 players in the world, however he is qualified certainly of winning any type of golf tournament on the tour, or most likely worldwide.""
Allan trust Curtis has actually been play well for six months.
""He was constantly determined to it is in the best,"" Allan said. ""He tried come max out every day. I"d choose to watch him make that commitment again. But at 37, it"s a hell that a lot harder 보다 at 27.""
""It"s difficult to admit,"" Curtis said. ""Sometimes I just want to walk out and act prefer I used to as much as playing hard. Yet those moments are couple of and far between right now.
""I can"t imagine years earlier thinking I would be one of the finest players in the world, to win Opens and also contending in other tournaments. Yet when you get there, you want to continue to be there a little longer. However staying over there is tough.
""Not just is that tough because everybody is going ~ you and the requirements on her time. It"s just challenging to store that level that play and also motivation. But I appreciated it all.""
Strange"s niche in golf history appears secure. With 17 job victories, he trails only Hale Irwin, hubert Green, Lanny Wadkins, beam Floyd and also Tom Watson among energetic players. He was the first player to win consecutive Opens since Ben Hogan in 1950-51, and he is the PGA Tour"s No. 3 all-time money leader behind Kite and Watson.
""He go from being simply a great golfer to yes, really making his mark on the game,"" Allan said. ""Then he fell off, and also that"s a lengthy fall. It"s difficult to pull you yourself back.""
But Wadkins, Irwin, Floyd and Kite have prospered at similar stages of your careers. Since transforming 37, Wadkins has actually won 5 tournaments, Irwin four, Floyd nine and Kite eight.
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""It"s tough to accept the reality of playing good golf and really playing well and then falling off the charts for awhile,"" weird said. ""It"s hard to cope. ... Ns felt ns was quite bullet-proof. Not simply in two years, however pretty much the "80s. Pretty much what i did turned out right. ...
""This is other everybody go through, not simply golfers, however everybody. I"m simply trying to find my means back, and also I will.""