Cool Curry heats up on golf course
By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun
Lee Curry used to care too much.
The 24-year-old had high expectations for himself on the golf course and when things didn't go the way he would like, he let his passion and fiery temper get the better of him.
He's finally figured that out.
"I play my best golf when I don't care," said Curry yesterday.
You know what? Not caring is working.
Curry has turned pro after a glittering amateur career and last week earned a full exemption for next year's Canadian Tour on his first try, finishing fourth in the qualifying school. He had rounds of 73-73-68-72 for a total of 286 (2-under par) in the rain-shortened event at Royal Ashburn. That was good for fourth place behind medallist Bryn Parry of Vancouver, who topped the field at 284.
(Ottawa's Julian James, a rookie on the Canadian Tour last year, earned a conditional exemption, while Cornwall's Dan McNeely didn't qualify.)
Like a lot of young players, Curry had trouble controlling his temper on the course. There's nothing wrong with wanting to do well, but when your focus is too much on the outcome of each shot, rather than what you need to do to hit a good shot, no player can play up to his potential.
Rideau View head pro Paul Sherratt, who's worked with Curry for years, could see the hurdle his runaway emotions were becoming.
"Lee didn't control his emotions well and it got to the point where that lack of control was inhibiting his performance," Sherratt said yesterday.
"Lee, honestly, is a top-60 ballstriker if you look at (PGA) Tour players, but he didn't have a top-125 head on his shoulders two years ago."
But, as is often the case, until the player himself has the epiphany, no amount of coaching, preaching, cajoling or scolding is going to really get the point across.
Curry admitted he knew he could sometimes be his own worst enemy, like when he shot an 87 while representing Canada at a tournament in Malaysia.
"I was just trying too hard," he said.
Curry was upset at this time last year after missing the cut at the Bell Canadian Open and that led to a breakthrough.
Sherratt and Curry spoke on the range after his opening 74 at Angus Glen and continued to talk after they had returned home.
After seeing red, Curry saw the light.
"You can't try to make things happen," said Curry. "You've just got to let them happen."
Like at the Duke of Kent?
"It's amazing what can happen," he said.
Curry blitzed his way to a course-record 29 on the final nine of the Royal Quebec course at the Kent, the second of Quebec amateur golf's triple crown.
Curry birdied Nos. 11 and 12, had a hole-in-one at 13 (7-iron, 166 yards), birdied 15, holed out from 50 yards for an eagle on 16 and birdied 18 to get into a playoff, which he won with a birdie. That's 9-under for the last 10 holes he played.
"It all goes back to not caring," said Curry. "I just walked up and just whacked it. It was pretty crazy."
DOMINATED IN QUEBEC
Curry was the dominant player the last couple of years on the Quebec amateur scene. It was his second Duke of Kent title in a row to go with three consecutive Alexander of Tunis championships (2001-03). He finished his amateur career as only the second player to win more than two Tunis tournaments in a row.
Now he figures he's ready to take the next, big step. He sees himself playing a couple of years on the Canadian Tour, then trying the next level.
"I'm going to get my feet wet out there (on the Canadian Tour), learn some of the tricks of the trade," said Curry.
Sounds like he's already learned an important one.
Don't beat yourself or beat yourself up.