Kite Healthy Again & Ready to Return


World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Kite will return to the Champions Tour February 10-14 at The ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla., about 14 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon in his left shoulder.

Despite the pain from the injury, Kite managed to play all 25 tournaments throughout the 2009 Champions Tour season and was still able to amass $848,871 in earnings on the strength of seven top-10 and 17 top-25 finishes.

The procedure in Kite's shoulder was performed November 4 in Birmingham, Ala., by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who is widely considered one of the foremost surgeons in the United States for knee, elbow and shoulder injuries.

Soon after the surgery, Kite began physical therapy sessions that included stretching for flexibility and weight-resistance work for strength and well as intense massage to break down the scar tissue built up from the injury.

"The shoulder rehab has been long and intense but it has responded well," Kite said. "My shoulder's flexibility and strength are about 80-85 percent of normal, and while I would prefer to head out to start the season at 100 percent, I feel confident that I will be able to play my way back to being competitive in a short time. The first few weeks may be a bit rugged, but I need to test the water to see how my shoulder responds to playing and the hours of practice."

Kite was given the clearance by Andrews in mid-January to resume full-swing practice sessions. Over the past month, Kite - who turned 60 in December - has been working with golf teacher Chuck Cook in controlled stints at the practice range - "as much as Dr Andrews allowed," Kite said. "He wanted me to go slow and be cautious, so I am trying to do that as much as my lack of patience will tolerate."

Kite has played in the ACE Group Classic in eight of the past nine seasons, and has recorded three top-10 finishes at the event since 2001. His best finish at the tournament was a tie for second in 2008 - when the event was held at Quail West Golf Club - and he tied for seventh in 2003 (at The Club at TwinEagles) and fourth in 2001 (at Pelican Marsh Golf Club).

Kite tied for 19th at the ACE Group Classic in 2009, when the tournament was held at the TPC Treviso Bay. This year the event will be contested at The Quarry, a course that can play as long as 7,300 yards.

"I have always enjoyed playing in South Florida and have had some pretty good success in this tournament, even though it has been played at different courses," Kite said. "I hope this tournament, and the event in Boca Raton the following week, can be a jump-start to a great year for me. It will be nice to play without pain and injury and - eventually - to get back all my flexibility and strength."

Kite's playing career could be described as successful and consistent. Growing up under the guidance of Hall of Fame instructor Harvey Penick, Kite enjoyed an impressive amateur career. At the University of Texas, he captained two NCAA title teams and was co-medalist at the 1972 NCAA Championship. He represented the United States in the 1970 Eisenhower Cup Matches and the 1971 Walker Cup before turning professional in 1973.

Kite's professional career includes wins in 19 official PGA Tour tournaments, with his most memorable victory at the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. From 1989 to 1995, Kite was the career leading money winner on the PGA Tour, and he spent 175 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings between 1989 and 1994.

Kite has been a member of seven U.S. Ryder Cup teams and was the captain of the 1997 team. In 1979, the USGA bestowed their highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, to Kite for his sportsmanship. He has won two Vardon Trophies (1981, 1982) for low scoring average and was named Player of the Year in 1981 and 1989.

After turning 50, Kite has focused on the Champions Tour winning an additional 10 events including one major championship, the Tradition, and - most recently - the Boeing Classic in 2008. In 2004, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, joining an elite list of greats who have played the game.

For more than 35 years, Kite has played and studied most of the greatest golf courses in the world, and in the early 1990s he decided to take his love of playing golf and use it to begin work designing golf courses.

Kite has now designed 12 courses with another two now in the construction phase. He utilizes his vast experience and knowledge of golf in each of his design projects, with the goal of creating a high-level course capable of hosting a PGA Tour event but enjoyable and playable for all skill levels. Kite is highly selective with the projects he accepts and remains actively involved throughout the construction and grow-in phases of the development to insure the integrity of the design. His completed projects, both individually and in conjunction with some of the world's top designers, include:

Liberty National Golf Club (Jersey City, NJ)
Trump International Golf Club (Puerto Rico)
Vanderbilt Legends Club (Nashville, TN)
Gaillardia Country Club (Oklahoma City, OK)
Somersett Country Club (Reno, NV)
The Club at Comanche Trace (Kerrville, TX)
Eagle Ridge Golf Club (Garner, NC)
Baltimore Country Club (Baltimore, MD)
Riverplace County Club (Austin, TX)
The Legends at LBJ Golf Club (Kingsland, TX)

For more information about his architectural firm, visit http://www.tomkitedesign.com.


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