Tom Kite Flys High at 1982 Bay Hill Classic
On this day, Tom Kite showed why all his “practicing” paid off by chipping in to win the Bay Hill Classic. The win was even sweeter, as he did it in a sudden-death playoff against the great Jack Nicklaus and Denis Watson. In the middle of the final round, nobody in their right mind would put their money on Kite who was drifting on & off the leaderboard for a tie for fifth place. But Kite made up ground by getting two birdies on the back nine at holes 11 & 12. Then he took his chance and made a move with a birdie at the 15th and a birdie the 17th, with a putt from 8 feet.
After coming back from a six-shot deficit with a final-round 69, Tom Kite had to wait in the clubhouse for over an hour before learning he was in a playoff with Jack Nicklaus and Denis Watson. Nicklaus had an absolute nightmare day shooting a 75, 4 over par yet somehow still in the playoff.
“It’s no fun working as hard as you can, day in and day out, without getting any rewards,” said the delighted Kite, who won the 1981 Vardon Trophy. “To finish second or third, everybody says, ‘Gee, you’re making so much money.’ But the whole thing we’re out here doing is trying to win tournaments.”