Curtis ends 6-year drought with win
Six years later, Ben Curtis is a PGA Tour champion again.
His victory Sunday at the Texas Open in San Antonio didn’t come easy. Neither did his words describing the redemption of nearly a decade spent falling from British Open champion to, this year, waiting by the phone simply for a chance to play.
His voice quivered, and his eyes welled up.
“It’s been a tough couple years just fighting through it,” Curtis said.
Holding off Matt Every and John Huh in a tense back-nine finish, Curtis finished with flourish by holing a 12-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th, sealing a two-stroke victory and his fourth PGA Tour title. His even-par 72 put him at 9 under and triggered a wave of emotions that Curtis said he didn’t know were in him.
Curtis won $1,116,000 and a two-year tour exemption — a more meaningful reward after being relegated to a status so low that this victory came in just the fourth PGA Tour event he managed to get into this year.
“You think you’re just staying positive and not worried about it, but I think deep down, you realize all the hard work you put in that, you know, finally paid off,” Curtis said.
It was 2003 when Curtis kissed the Claret Jug at Royal St. George’s with a square jawline and closely cropped black hair. This time, he was handed a pair of cowboy boots, smiling with a rounder face and a better appreciation of the journey.
“When you come out here and win one, well, if I win one every year I have a great career. That would be true,” Curtis said. “But, you know, to get to three, four, five wins — you’re a solid player. I just feel like you get yourself into contention and just have that belief, and anything can happen.”
Every had a 71 and lost a chance at his first tour win with a shaky putter – four blown putts from 9 feet or closer. Huh roared back with a 69, but the winner of February’s Mayakoba Classic fell just short of an amazing comeback after starting the first round with a 5-over 77.
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore closed with a 3-under 69 and finished in a tie for eighth at 4 under.
David Frost and Michael Allen won the Champions Tour’s Legends of Golf, shooting a final-round 10-under 62 for 187 total (29 under) and a one-stroke victory over John Cook and Joey Sindelar in the better-ball event in Savannah, Ga. … South African Branden Grace won the China Open in Tianjin for his third European Tour victory of the year, closing with a 3-under 69 to hold off 2011 winner Nicolas Colsaerts by three strokes. … Third-ranked Lee Westwood successfully defended his Indonesian Masters title, shooting a 2-over 74 for a two-stroke victory over Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant in Jakarta.
TRACKING LOCAL GOLFERS on the pga tour
THIS WEEK: Valero Texas Open, ended Sunday, TPC San Antonio
In the field: Puyallup’s Ryan Moore, University Place’s Michael Putnam, Tacoma’s Troy Kelly
Moore’s fourth-round score: 3-under-par 69
Position: Moore (4-under 284) tied for eighth, five strokes behind winner Ben Curtis (9-under 280). Kelly and Putnam missed the cut Friday.
Recap: Easily the former Cascade Christian golfer’s best showing in a final round this season as it appears he is finding good form heading into the meat of the PGA schedule. Moore went bogey-free on the final nine holes, making birdies at No. 11 (9-iron approach to 7 feet) and No. 14 (two-putt from 66 feet on par 5). Coupled with his tied-for-fourth showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has two top 10s in his past three tournaments.
Next for Moore: Wells Fargo Championship starting May 3 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.
Todd Milles, email@example.com