Curtis Strange, One of Golf's Best Players of the 1980s

Curtis Strange plays a shot in the 1992 Memorial Tournament
Golfer Curtis Strange, pictured in the early 1990s, was a 2-time US Open champion. Gary Newkirk/Getty Images

Curtis Strange was one of the top golfers of the mid-to-late 1980s, but one whose wins stopped at an early age. His wins were all packed into a 10-year period from 1979 through 1989, but that stretch included back-to-back victories in the U.S. Open.

  • Date of birth: Jan. 30, 1955
  • Place of birth: Norfolk, Va.

Strange was known for his intensity on the course, and also as a Ryder Cup regular - and later captain - for Team USA. He later went into television broadcasting and eventually was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Wins by Curtis Strange

  • PGA Tour: 17 (listed below)
  • Major Championships: 2

Strange's two wins in majors were the 1988 and 1989 U.S. Opens.

Awards and Honors for Strange

  • Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
  • PGA Player of the Year, 1988
  • PGA Tour money leader, 1985, 1987, 1988
  • Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995
  • Captain, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 2002
  • Member, Virginia Sports Hall of Fame

Curtis Strange Trivia

  • Jay Haas was a college teammate of Curtis Strange at Wake Forest University. Strange won the NCAA Championship in 1974 and Haas won it in 1975.
  • At the 1987 Dunhill Cup, Strange set the course record at The Old Course at St. Andrews, shooting 62. However, in 2005, the St. Andrews Links Trust threw out the old course records when The Old Course was lengthened, so Strange's 62 is no longer recognized as an "official" record. Regardless, Strange will always be the first golfer to shoot 62 on The Old Course.
  • Strange has an identical twin, Allen, who also played on the PGA Tour.

Curtis Strange Biography

Curtis Strange's career bears a resemblance to that of Tony Jacklin's. Like Jacklin, Strange was briefly one of the best players and biggest stars in the world of golf. And like Jacklin, Strange suddenly stopped winning. But during the period he was at his best, Strange was surely one of the greatest golfers of the 1980s.

Strange's father owned White Sands Country Club in Virginia Beach, Va., and Strange began golfing at an early age. At age 15, Strange won the Virginia Junior Championship and later earned the Arnold Palmer Scholarship to play golf at Wake Forest University.

At Wake Forest, Strange was part of what some consider the best U.S. collegiate golf team ever. With teammate Jay Haas, among others, Strange led Wake Forest to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1974 and 1975. Strange won the individual collegiate crown in 1974, when he also won the World Amateur Cup.

Strange turned pro in 1976 and won his first PGA Tour event at the 1979 Pensacola Open.

Strange's Career Years in the 1980s

Strange's career surged in the 1980s, when he won 16 of his 17 PGA Tour titles. He won at least once every year from 1983 through 1989. His first great season was 1985, when he won three PGA Tour events and claimed his first PGA Tour money title. He did the same thing again - three wins plus the money title - in 1987.

In 1988, Strange won four tournaments and became the first golfer to crack the $1 million mark for single-season earnings.

Consecutive U.S. Open Wins

One of those four victories in 1988 was at the U.S. Open, Strange's first win a in major. He won that tournament by beating Nick Faldo in an 18-hole playoff, 71 to 75. Strange won the money title a third time in 1988 and was named the tour's Player of the Year.

Then, the following year, Strange won the 1989 U.S. Open, becoming the first back-to-back champion since Ben Hogan in 1950-51. He won that one by three strokes.

At age 34, coming off his second major, with 17 career PGA Tour wins, Strange seemed in the middle of a great stretch of golf. But, as it turned out, he was at the end instead. Strange never won again on the PGA Tour after that U.S. Open.

Strange's Decline in the 1990s and Post-Career

Strange dropped all the way to 53rd on the money list in 1990, and failed to post any Top 3 finishes. He did come close at another U.S. Open, finishing one stroke out of a playoff in 1994. But by the mid-1990s, Strange was playing less and less on Tour.

What happened? He once explained:

"The loss of enthusiasm - I think that happens to everybody when they don't play well. I'm not one of those guys who can be confident and happy when they're not playing well. It got to be a vicious circle. I wasn't playing well so I wasn't confident."

Strange eventually left the Tour to become the lead analyst on ABC's golf broadcast team. Strange held that position for several years before departing ABC in 2004. In 2005, he began his first season on the Champions Tour, but played the senior tour only sporadically and without winning. He later went back into broadcasting.

Strange was known as an intense competitor, someone who could be brusque to fans and media. Several times early in his career, he skipped the British Open, a decision he has called his biggest regret in golf.

Strange was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.

Quote, Unquote

  • Curtis Strange: "Bad shots should cause you all sorts of pain."

PGA Tour Wins by Curtis Strange

Here is the list of Strange's tournament wins on the PGA Tour:

  • 1979 Pensacola Open
  • 1980 Michelob-Houston Open
  • 1980 Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic
  • 1983 Sammy Davis Jr.-Greater Hartford Open
  • 1984 LaJet Golf Classic
  • 1985 Honda Classic
  • 1985 Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational
  • 1985 Canadian Open
  • 1986 Houston Open
  • 1987 Canadian Open
  • 1987 Federal Express St. Jude Classic
  • 1987 NEC World Series of Golf
  • 1988 Independent Insurance Agent Open
  • 1988 Memorial Tournament
  • 1988 U.S. Open
  • 1988 Nabisco Championship
  • 1989 U.S. Open

Six of Strange's PGA Tour victories, more than one-third of his total, came via playoffs. Those six playoff wins were at the 1980 Houston Open, 1985 Honda Classic, 1986 Houston Open, 1988 Independent Insurance Agent Open, 1988 Nabisco Championship and, most notably, the 1988 U.S. Open.

Strange's overall PGA Tour playoff record was 6-3, and among the opponents he beat in playoffs were Hall-of-Famers Lee Trevino, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Tom Kite.