Tom Kite was born on this day in 1949. An American professional golfer and golf course architect. He spent 175 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings between 1989 and 1994.
Kite was born in McKinney, Texas. He began playing golf at age six, and won his first tournament at age 11. Kite attended the University of Texas on a golf scholarship and was coached by Harvey Penick. He turned professional in 1972 and has been a consistent money winner ever since. Known for his innovation, he was the first to add a third wedge to his bag, one of the first players to use a sports psychologist, and one of the first to emphasize physical fitness for game improvement. He also underwent laser eye surgery, due to his partial blindness. in a bid to improve his game late in his career.
He has 19 PGA Tour victories, including the 1992 US Open at Pebble Beach. He competed on seven Ryder Cup squads (1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1993) and served as the 1997 captain. Kite holds a unique record of making the cut for the first four US Opens held at Pebble Beach: 1972, 1982, 1992, and 2000. Kite also shares the distinction (with Gene Littler) of playing in the most Masters Tournaments without a win.
In 1989 he was named PGA of America Player of the Year; in 1981 the Golf Writers Association Player of the Year, the Vardon Trophy winner in 1980 & 1981, Bob Jones Award recipient in 1979 and Golf Digest Rookie of the Year in 1973.
Tom Kite was the first in Tour history to reach $6 million, $7 million, $8 million, and $9 million in career earnings. He was the Tour’s leading money-winner in 1981 and 1989.
His 16th and 17th PGA Tour victories were on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in 1992.
In 2005 he led the PGA Tour’s Booz Allen Classic by one shot going into the final round at the age of 55. If he had been able to stay ahead he would have beaten Sam Snead’s record as the oldest winner on the PGA Tour by three years, but he fell away to finish tied 13th, seven shots behind Sergio García.
Kite currently plays the over 50s Champions Tour, where he has ten victories including one senior major, The Countrywide Tradition. At the 2012 US Senior Open, Kite shot a front nine 28 (seven uner par) in the first round. This was the lowest nine-hole score ever recorded in any USGA championship. He finished the tournament tied for 12th.
Kite has added golf course designer to his resume and has successfully completed several golf courses in collaboration with Bob Cupp, Randy Russell and Roy Bechtol. Completed golf courses include Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey; Comanche Trace in Kerrville, Texas; Somersett Country Club in Reno, Nevada; Gaillardia Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and the Legends on LBJ in Kingsland, Texas.
Kite was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.