Golf: Kite stays steady

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Tom Kite doesn't mince words. He keeps reality in focus.

We are fallen people living in a fallen world. Adversity will come, along with triumph.

The key, according to Kite, is not straying too far in the wrong direction. In golf, that could refer to a cut instead of a slice.

Kite's career tells the story of consistency.

In a little more than four years, Kite has made the cut in all but one of the 106 Champions Tour events he has entered. He has the best current streak of years (11) making the Charles Schwab Cup Championship for the top-30 money leaders on the tour for golfers 50 and older.

Kite will be the honored guest for the Breakfast of Champions on Tuesday at the Balboa Bay Club. Three days later he is scheduled to tee off in the 17th Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.

Kite comes off a year he called inconsistent. He had shoulder surgery at the end of 2009 and said he developed some bad habits that he's trying to work through. He still had seven top-10 finishes last year, including two solo thirds.

"It was a lot of rehab and a lot of practice balls before I started feeling comfortable," Kite said by phone while he was driving home in Texas last weekend.

He placed seventh in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii in January.

The focus turns to Toshiba. Kite's best finish in nine prior tournaments was a tie for 10th in 2001.

"There are some tricky holes where you can make high numbers," Kite said.

The talent assembled at Toshiba includes defending champion Fred Couples, who shot an 18-under 195 to claim last year's tournament, and Bernhard Langer.

"Bernhard is doing phenomenal things," Kite said. Langer won the ACE Group Classic in February and placed first five times in 2010.

Kite said the quality of play on the Champions Tour is boosted because the tour doesn't have as many events as the PGA Tour. The Champions Tour has 25 tournaments this year while the PGA has 51.

"Most players play a full schedule," Kite said.

He may try to qualify for the U.S. Open, which he won at Pebble Beach in 1992, but will stick to the Champions Tour.

What also helps boost the caliber of play on the Champions Tour is that rookies "have 30 years of experience," Kite said.

What does Kite attribute his consistency to?

"I pay attention to the details," he said. "I approach [golf] as a business. I don't get far into any slump before errors get corrected. You'll always encounter difficult playing conditions. You're always in a state of adjustment."

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Toshiba Classic Schedule

MONDAY

8 a.m. – Gates open

10 a.m. – Monday Pro-Am shotgun start

5 p.m. – VIP players night reception (by invitation only)

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TUESDAY

7 a.m. – Breakfast with a Champion, featured guest Tom Kite, presented by the Allergan Foundation (at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort)

6:30 p.m. – Classic Pro-Am, presented by Emulex, Pairings Party (by invitation only) at Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa

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WEDNESDAY

6 a.m. – Gates open

7 a.m. – Morning shotgun for Classic Pro-Am, presented by Emulex

12:30 p.m. – Afternoon shotgun for Classic Pro-Am, presented by Emulex

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THURSDAY

6 a.m. – Gates open

7 a.m. – Morning shotgun for Classic Pro-Am, presented by Emulex

12:30 p.m. – Afternoon shotgun for Classic Pro-Am, presented by Emulex

6 p.m. – Classic Pro-Am, presented by Emulex, awards party (by invitation only)

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FRIDAY

8 a.m. – Gates open

10:15 a.m. (approx.) – Toshiba Classic Round 1

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SATURDAY

8 a.m. – Gates open

10:15 a.m. (approx.) – Toshiba Classic Round 2

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March 13

8 a.m. – Gates open

10:15 a.m. (approx.) – Toshiba Classic Round 3

4:45 p.m. (approx.) – Awards ceremony on the 18th green

(Schedule is subject to change)

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