Strange, Curtis (2017)

About Strange, Curtis (2017)

PGA Tour

MAPGA Hall of Fame Class, 2017

Born in Norfolk, VA, Curtis Strange’s playing career began as a junior champion and reached its zenith by winning consecutive United States Opens.  For these accomplishments the MAPGA has enshrined him into their Hall of Fame.  As the second Virginian to win a US Open (Lew Worsham being the first in 1947), Curtis replicated a feat established by the greatest golfers teeing it up during the Twentieth Century.  In taking the US Open trophy in 1988 and 1989, he matched Ben Hogan’s victories in 1950 and 1951 following World War II.   Prior to the World War II, only Bobby Jones and Ralph Guldahl won back-to-back, and in the earliest days of the US Opens, Willie Anderson and John McDermott did so, Anderson three times.

Curtis emerged as the golfing prodigy of the already honored MAPGA Hall of Fame member, his father Thomas Wright Strange, Jr.   Tom Strange, a prominent player in the 1950s and 1960s, won the Virginia Open five times, once as an amateur and four as a professional.  Furthermore, he played in three US Amateur Championships, and six US Opens.  The father introduced the son to golf about the time he turned seven years old.   Unfortunately, he, his twin brother Allan, sister Anne and their mother lost Tom to cancer in 1969.   Fortunately, the local golf professionals, notably MAPGA Hall of Fame member Chandler Harper, stepped in to provide the family support and well-being.

Following success in junior tournaments, having won the VSGA junior crown in 1970 and 1972, he embarked on an amateur career highlighted by winning VSGA Amateur Championships in 1974 and 1975; the Southeastern Amateur in 1973, Western Amateur, North-South and NCAA Championship in 1974; and the North-South and Eastern Amateurs in 1975.  The Eastern Amateur title reproduced his father’s victory in the first one (1957).  Additionally, he was a three-time All American at Wake Forest University as an Arnold Palmer Scholarship recipient.  On perhaps the best college team ever, Strange’s power and pugnacity earned him the nickname “Brutus.” 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.

In amateur team championships, he and his teammates captured the Eisenhower trophy, now the World Amateur Cup, in 1974; and the Walker Cup in 1975.

Turning professional in 1976, Curtis won the first of his seventeen PGA Tour titles, the Pensacola Open, in 1979.  As a dominant tour player during the 1980s, he ranked at the top on the money list in 1985, 1987 and 1988, and was the first to accrue a million dollars in a single year in 1988.  The PGA Tour named him Player of the Year in 1988 after having won four titles.  Additionally, the Golf Writers of America named him their Player of the Year three times.  Curtis won a PGA Tour event in seven consecutive years from 1983 to 1989.  In the 1988 US Open, he defeated Nick Faldo in a playoff.   In 1989, Curtis came back from a 3-stroke deficit to Tom Kite after 3 rounds to edge Chip Beck, Mark MacCumber and Ian Woosnam by a single stroke, thanks to a birdie on the 70th hole. The Official World Golf Rankings had him in the top 10 for some 200 weeks between 1986 and 1990.

Furthermore, he played on five Ryder Cup Teams, 1983 through 1991, again in 1995, and subsequently captained his US colleagues in 2002 at The Belfry in England.  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. Additionally, throughout the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, Curtis he played for the US in the biennial Dunhill Cup matches.  In the 1987 edition, he shot a record 62 at the Old Course, St. Andrews.

As his illustrious playing career drew to a conclusion, Curtis became a well-known golf analyst, first for ESPN/ABC in 1997 continuing through 2004.  Then he rejoined their broadcast team in 2008.  Then in 2016 he joined the FOX Network telecast of the USGA Championships.

Not only a member of the Middle Atlantic PGA Hall of Fame, he is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and the Virginia State Golf Association Hall of Fame.

Curtis is married to Sarah and have two grown children, Tom and David.