Life Has Changed for Ben Curtis

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 30, 2003, 4:00 pm
GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) -- In less than two weeks, Ben Curtis has gone from an unknown rookie on the PGA Tour to someone famous enough to be invited into the White House and onto David Letterman's show.
 
That's what an improbable victory at the British Open will do for you.
 
'When I left there, I didn't think it would be that big of a deal coming home,' the 26-year-old from Ohio said Tuesday. 'I didn't think the country would take me in like they did, to go to Letterman and to go meet the President, that topped it off. That was just an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.'
 
Few knew who Curtis was when he began play in the British Open as the 396th-ranked player in the world. After winning the prestigious event on July 20, most at least recognize his name.
 
'You know you have to do something special for (the president) to invite you into the White House,' Curtis said.
 
'Coming from virtually unknown to the No. 1 guy in golf at the time, it's very overwhelming. But I'm riding the wave right now and it's a lot of fun.'
 
Curtis will begin his quest to be more than just a one-win wonder on Thursday at the Buick Open, his first tournament since the big win. He will be in a field that includes defending champion Tiger Woods, U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, Vijay Sing and Peter Jacobsen, who won last week's Greater Hartford Open.
 
'I want to go out there and prove to everybody that I belong out here and that the win was no fluke,' Curtis said. 'But, time will tell. I feel that it should not just be based on this week, or the next few weeks. It should be based on between now and next summer.'
 
Curtis knows his life has not only changed off the course but on it as well.
 
When he is introduced Thursday, he will not just be 'Ben Curtis.' He will be, '2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis,' and a crowd will gather to watch.
 
'I know the fans will be expecting a lot more form me,' said Curtis, who withdrew from last week's tournament to spend time with family and friends. 'I'm just going to go out there and continue what I've been doing and hopefully, I'll keep getting better and have a chance to win a few more.'
 
When Curtis arrived at Warwick Hills, 60 miles north of Detroit, he could not simply show up for a practice round and leave quietly. Fans gathered around the practice green watching him, and there were kids waiting for autographs when he finished.
 
Curtis still wasn't done.
 
He was the featured attraction in the media tent, where he was peppered with questions by a slew of reporters, who he said will pose a new challenge.
 
'All of the eyes will be on me and they will be looking for a story,' he said. 'I'm just going to have to try to block that out.'
 
Curtis, who spent the last two years on the Hooters Tour, qualified for the British Open two weeks before the major with a 13th-place finish in the Western Open. Before that, he had missed five cuts and finished between 27th and 75th at eight other tournaments this year.
 
'My year has been kind of up and down,' he said. 'I would like to keep more consistent and get to that level where I can compete every week, just like Tiger does and Vijay.'
 
Related Links:
  • TheGolfChannel.com Bio - Ben Crutis
  • Full Coverage - Buick Open
     
    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x