A New Life for British Open Champ

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
2003 PGA ChampionshipROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- In Ben Curtis' former life, he would have been thrilled just to be playing in the PGA Championship.
That was only a month ago, but his life as a struggling rookie now seems so far away.
Curtis is not only at Oak Hill Country Club this week, but he's come with expectations -- the kind that winners of major championships often carry.
Funny how a silver claret jug can change everything.
'Obviously when you come off a major win and this is the next major you're going to be asked to play well,' Curtis said. 'I try not to worry about it.'
Worrying is not something that occupies a lot of Curtis' time.
He didn't worry when Tiger Woods and Davis Love III chased him down the back nine at Royal St. George's last month, only to lose when they couldn't make a few simple pars on the closing holes.
He's not worried about the sudden demands on his life and time that come with the British Open title.
He doesn't even worry about making his wedding, which is set for the same day he will play the third round of the NEC Invitational next week just down the road from his home in Ohio.
'Just hop in the car and be home in 20, 30 minutes,' Curtis said of his wedding plans.
Ordinary life goes on for the taciturn 26-year-old, who has tried to remain largely unaffected by the pressures and challenges of sudden fame.
His life has been anything but ordinary, though, since winning his first major championship in the only major championship he's ever played.
Consider just his last few weeks.
Curtis had gone to the David Letterman show before, but this time he was a guest instead of in the audience. He even managed to put Letterman in convulsions by misspeaking and saying Woods had an 'aroma' about him when he meant an 'aura.'
Curtis had been to a Cleveland Indians' game, but in the cheap seats. This time, he threw out the first ball, and put it right down the middle.
Oh, yeah, and there's that 25-minute meeting he had with President Bush in the Oval Office.
'That was pretty cool,' Curtis said.
Not much hasn't been cool since Curtis made a crucial par putt on the final hole, then waited it out while Thomas Bjorn collapsed and the chances of Woods and Love faded away on a warm Sunday last month on the English coast.
Curtis had been ecstatic just to get into the British, his first major.
Winning? Well, that certainly was a nice bonus.
'I knew I could win majors; I just didn't think it would happen this soon,' Curtis said. 'I thought maybe as soon as I got 10 or 12 under my belt, that maybe once I got in contention a couple of times I would. I was surprised to win, but at the same time, I wasn't.'
No more surprised than some of his fellow pros, none of whom knew who Curtis was.
'Obviously, Ben came out of the blue,' Padraig Harrington said. 'I wasn't familiar with his game.'
Neither was Woods, who was bitterly disappointed after two bogeys in the final four holes ruined his chances. Woods chatted with Curtis on the phone the day after his win, and again a few weeks later at the Buick Open.
Woods, who has some experience dealing with expectations, said Curtis will have to adjust to his new celebrity and the demands it places on him. Instead of sneaking into the PGA championship without notice like he did at the British Open, Curtis was followed by autograph seekers Tuesday and then had to spend some time in the media room doing interviews.
'One of the biggest things is to try to delegate his time so that he doesn't lose his focus and his preparation and his intensity for competing,' Woods said. 'He's got so much more responsibilities and attention than he ever has, it's going to be tough to try and delegate everything and get to where it feels comfortable.'
Curtis has played only once since winning the British Open, finishing 61st in the Buick Open. He was scheduled to play more, but pulled out so he could adjust to his newfound fame.
Curtis said he's not hitting the ball that well, but his short game is sharp and he's eager to test himself again.
'My goal is just to go out there and hit a lot of fairways and greens and try to keep it around the red numbers,' he said.
Could he win again? Probably not.
After all, 12 of the last 15 PGA Championships have gone to guys who haven't won major championships.
Ben Curtis doesn't fall into that category anymore.
Related Links:
  • TheGolfChannel.com Bio: Ben Curtis
  • 2003 PGA Championship Home
  • More News from the 2003 PGA Championship
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    The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

    By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

    Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

    Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

    But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

    So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

    Speaking of greatness …

    There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

    The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

    When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

    So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

    Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

    Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

    Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

    This, according to Curtis Strange.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

    This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

    Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

    By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

    Tony's gonna stand on an egg

    A post shared by theCHIVE (@thechive) on

    Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

    Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

    Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

    But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

    Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

    A post shared by Under Armour Golf (@uagolf) on

    The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

    Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

    Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

    That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

    Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

    Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

    The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

    Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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    Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

    Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

    Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

    Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

    Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

    Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

    Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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    Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

    ‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

    Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

    Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

    Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

    “Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

    “Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

    Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

    Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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    Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

    By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

    Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)