Curtis game is suited for Oakland Hills

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Ben Curtis hits it short and straight off the tee.
 
From there, he plays it safe to the green where hes a solid putter.
 
Curtis temperament and ho-hum game served him well at vaunted Oakland Hills ' just as it did at the 2003 British Open ' as he shot a 3-under 67 on Friday to trail J.B. Holmes by a stroke halfway through the PGA Championship.
 
I dont know if its just my personality or my game, he said. Probably a reflection of both.
 
Curtis was at even-par 140 through two rounds, giving himself a chance to claim his second major and just his fourth victory since becoming a full-time PGA Tour player five years ago when he came out of nowhere to win at Royal St. Georges.
 
Regardless of how he fares in suburban Detroit, the Ben Bulletin will be updated throughout the weekend about 150 miles away at Mill Creek Golf Course in Ostrander, Ohio.
 
Curtis grew up about 50 yards from the course that his grandfather created near Columbus. Dad is the superintendent while Mom and other family members, including Grandma on Friday, chip in by cooking, cutting the grass and updating the Ben Bulletin.
 
A dry-erase board under one of the three TVs ' an aunt says there isnt a big one ' in the pro shop shows how Curtis is doing each day hes competing.
 
We were following him on the computer, said his aunt, Nancy Plant. But we were pretty busy because we had an outing today, so it was hard to keep up.
 
Curtis mother, Janice, was able to see the action in person at Oakland Hills while his father, Bob, had to stay behind to work at the golf course and at home.
 
Hes dog-sitting, Plant said. He got to go to the British, so his mother gets to be with him this week.
 
Janice Curtis saw her son get into contention with a 3-under second round after falling apart Thursday, losing six shots over the last eight holes for a 73.
 
Curtis said only one player will like Oakland Hills by the end of the tournament ' and it might be him ' because undulating and firm fairways coupled with hard and contoured greens make it one of the toughest in the world.
 
His game suits the setup.
 
Curtis ranks 148th on the PGA Tour in driving distance, but is 47th in accuracy. His birdie average ranks him 171st, but he makes a lot of pars by being among the best on the green from 20-plus feet and between 5 and 10 feet.
 
The formula does not help him win very often, but it helped him hold off Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods to win the British Open as the 396th-ranked player in the world. He finish tied for second at Royal Birkdale last month and will start Saturdays third round tied for second with Charlie Wi and Justin Rose.
 
I try to gear my game for these, Curtis said. Obviously I havent had success at Augusta, but the U.S. Open, British Open and this one, I feel suit my game quite well.
 
I just like tough conditions.
 
While many are complaining about The Monster, Curtis is not joining the chorus.
 
You just have to accept it, he said. You dont have to like it.
 
Curtis is encountering a tough crowd at Oakland Hills because hes sporting Detroit Lions logos on his hat, shirt and shoes per a sponsor agreement with Reebok, which calls for him to wear the apparel of local NFL teams during PGA Tour events.
 
Ive heard a lot of comments this week from anywhere to `Hes wearing a Lions jersey, so theres no way he can win because of the luck of the Lions, he said. Hopefully I can be victorious with this on.
 
Even if hes not, though, Curtis insisted he doesnt need to follow up his first major with another to validate his career.
 
Ive proven that I can play out here, he said. To me, thats all that matters.
 
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