At the 1974 NCAA Championship, Strange eagled the 72nd hole to not only ensure the team championship but to win the individual championship by a stroke. “I’ve always looked at pressure as the time to show off,” he said.
After mixed results in his first three years as a professional, Strange changed his swing from a powerful but erratic action to one with less explosion but more consistency, and found his stride in the mid 80s. At the 1985 Masters, Strange opened with an 80 but came back with rounds of 65 and 68 and entered the back nine of the final round with a four stroke lead. But he dunked his second shot on Augusta’s risk reward par 5s, and lost by two to Hall of Fame member Bernhard Langer. Still, that year he won his PGA TOUR money title, and for the next several years would be America’s best player.
Strange led the money list again in 1987, and late in the year set the St Andrews Old Course 18-hole record of 62 at the Dunhill Cup. He had his best year in 1988, winning four times and becoming the first player to ever win $1 million in a season, in the process earning PGA Player of the Year honors. “I’m a grinder,” said Strange. “I maximize my game.”
In five Ryder Cups as a player (he was chosen U.S. captain in 2002), Strange’s finest hour was the final singles of the 1989 matches. By birdieing the final four holes, Strange took the lead from Ian Woosnam and took great delight in earning the final point for the American team, which secured a share of the trophy.
Curtis Strange was originally inducted through the PGA TOUR Ballot.