For History of Golf, we were asked to write about two of the greatest golfers of the 80s and 90s (one from each decade) and to explain their contributions to the game. The following is an excerpt from the assignment:
Curtis Strange won 16 times between 1980 and 1989 including back-to-back U.S. Opens in 1988 at Brookline and again in 1989 at Oak Hill Country Club. In the same decade, Strange tied for 2nd in the PGA Championship in 1989, tied for 13th in the Open Championship in 1988, and tied for 2nd in the 1985 Masters. He was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1985, 1987, and 1988 and was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1988. Strange is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and spent over 200 weeks in the Top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking between 1986 and 1990.
In 1997, Strange was hired as the lead golf analyst for ESPN/ABC where he worked alongside host Mike Tirico. Strange has provided commentary for several notable events, including Tiger Wood’s playoff win in the 1997 Mercedes Championship, David Duval’s final round 59 at the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and Jean Van de Velde’s epic collapse at the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Vijay Singh won eight times between 1990 and 1999. The “Big Fijian” joined the PGA Tour in 1993, winning his first Tour event, the Buick Classic, in a playoff over Mark Wiebe that same year. Singh was named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1993. In 1995, he came back from neck and back problems to win the Buick Classic and the Phoenix Open. Singh won the Memorial Tournament and the Buick Open in 1997 before catching fire in 1998 when he won the PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club. In 1999, Singh finished tied for 3rd at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, his best-ever finish at a U.S. Open. Singh was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005 and won the FedEx Cup in 2008.
Singh’s professional career got off to an inauspicious start after he was suspended from the Asian Tour in 1985 over allegations he doctored his scorecard. It was alleged that he lowered his score from one over to one under in order to make the cut. Singh denies this, saying that in any case, it should only have resulted in disqualification from the event rather than a ban. After an investigation by the Tour and other allegations proved to be true, Asian PGA Tour president John Bender issued Singh a lifetime ban from Asian PGA Tour Play.