Curtis Strange is one of only six players to have ever won back-to-back U.S. Open championships, and the only one to do so in the last 40 years.
When he accomplished the feat in 1988-89, it was the signal achievement of a five-year span during which Strange won 12 tournaments and led the money list three times.
Strange's father, Tom, was a Virginia club professional who had played in the U.S. Open. He died when Curtis was 14.
Strange built an outstanding amateur record, with his most impressive victory coming as a freshman at Wake Forest in the 1974 NCAA Championships. He eagled the final hole there to earn both the individual and team titles.
Strange also won the 1973 Southeastern Amateur, the 1974 Western Amateur, the 1975 Eastern Amateur, and the 1975 and '76 North and South Amateurs. A long hitter in his amateur days, Strange throttled back when he turned pro in order to gain more control.
Strange left college in his junior year to turn pro in 1976, but he didn't score his first Tour win until the last event of 1979. He blossomed in 1985 when he won three times and led the money list. Strange's finest seasons came in 1987 and '88 when he led the Tour in earnings each year, totaling more than $2 million.
Going into the 1988 U.S. Open, Strange had done nearly everything except win a major championship. He finally claimed his first major at The Country Club, getting up-and-down from a bunker on the 72nd hole and then defeating Nick Faldo in a playoff.
Strange defended the U.S. Open title the next year, passing a faltering Tom Kite on the final day at Oak Hill with a round that included 16 pars, one birdie, and one bogey.
Strange challenged for a third straight Open title in 1990 before dropping back in the final round. He later admitted he lost his motivation for the next couple of years, and he also had physical problems. His drive and his health later returned, but his game didn't make it all the way back. He remained winless in the 1990s.
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