Kris Blanks turns 50 and embraces a new chapter: pursuing golf's second act
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Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour
Kris Blanks reached 50 and decided it was time to be a little selfish.
A two-time winner in his Korn Ferry Tour career, Blanks had devoted himself in his late 40s to his sons’ baseball aspirations. With his oldest son, Kristoffer, securing a scholarship to Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida for next fall, Blanks rededicated himself to his golf game.
A few weeks back, he Monday qualified at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Georgia and parlayed that into a top 10 with a solo seventh in his very first PGA TOUR Champions event. That earned him automatic entry into the Principal Charity Classic, beginning Friday in Des Moines.
“The cool part of being a professional golfer is you have this opportunity when you turn 50, if you keep in shape and have your desire to compete, this is definitely a nice carrot to have in front of you,” Blanks said Wednesday. “I was injured over the last couple of years. I’ve been taking it easy and just was starting to feel better and now am getting in shape.
“The biggest difference is my kids don’t give a s--- about me anymore, and it freed me up to play more. When I was in my late 40s it was difficult to compete with the young guys on the PGA TOUR, so I focused on their baseball. But I’ve spent the past eight months trying to hone my game.”
Despite being a Georgia native, Blanks had never played TPC Sugarloaf before showing up for the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, but he felt like his game was in a good place.
“The course suited my eye as far as layout and shots required,” Blanks said. “I had a really good game plan, not ultra-aggressive. I think I missed only three greens all week. It was a good course for me.”
Blanks has a blank schedule after the PCC. His playing career, while not devoid of highlights that include a runner-up finish at the RBC Canadian Open, did not give him any status for PGA TOUR Champions. He was upset with himself for missing the cut at the Senior PGA Championship last week in Frisco, Texas. He said he if had played well there, perhaps even just posted a top 30, he’d be in that much better shape not only in the Schwab Cup standings but in convincing tournaments on the remainder of the PGA TOUR Champions schedule that he deserves a spot in their fields.
Not that he isn’t willing to earn it. If he doesn’t play well at the PCC, he plans to try to Monday qualify for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, New York.
Blanks said he has sought advice from friends such as Champions Tour vets Scott McCarron, Russ Cochran and Tom Gillis on everything from how to dress for pro-am parties to how to write to tournament directors for sponsor’s exemptions.
“It’s for sure tough to play out here,” Blanks said. “They’re not gonna roll the red carpet out for me. I know that’s not the case. But there’s enough of a window and enough room that if I do what I’m capable I should be able to sustain and carve a little niche out for myself and start a second career.”
Now it’s a matter of either playing well enough to get into future events via the top 10 route, or Monday qualifying, or sponsor’s exemption.
“I’d be lying if I said if I have 25 events I would be shocked if I couldn’t keep my card,” Blanks said. “But a lot lose it. It takes a high level of golf. You can’t just show up and finish 30th every week. I think I can play and compete out here.”