Nothing Leads to Something for Curtis

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2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' Never underestimate the power of doing nothing. It can lead to something.
 
That seems to be the case for Ben Curtis, who, fresh off a three-week hiatus from the PGA Tour, shot 3-under 67 Thursday to earn a share of the first-round lead in the 87th PGA Championship.
 
Ben Curtis
Decked out in his New York Giants gear, Ben Curtis delighted many -- but not all -- of the fans Thursday.
What did he do during his break?
 
I stayed home, he said. Didnt move.
 
Well, he moved a little bit. After completely abandoning the game over the first two weeks, Curtis played every day on week 3.
 
Thats all I did, he said. I didnt really practice. Just for me, I feel like I got in the habit of practicing too much instead of playing. So on my way home I just went out and played and had a good time, and that just seems to help me.
 
It was nice and relaxing.
 
Curtis was in dire need of a break ' even though he has had plenty of weekends off this year. Prior to the PGA, he had competed in 16 events and had missed 13 cuts. One of those missed cuts came in his most recent start, at the Open Championship.
 
It was just two years ago that Curtis shocked all of golf with an Open victory at Royal St. George's. He came from behind to defeat the likes of Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Thomas Bjorn. More remarkable, he did so in his rookie season on tour. Even more remarkable than that, he did so in his first-ever major championship.
 
It was a dream-come-true for Curtis. But it was also heavy weight to shoulder.
 
I dont know if it was overwhelming, but I think its always difficult to deal with (winning for) the first time, he said. I was a rookie on tour. And you can win all the tournaments in the world, but if you win a major, it can be totally different.
 
Obviously it had an effect on me, but at the time it didnt feel like it. Its a great experience; you never take it back. And you just try to deal with it with the most positive attitude as you can.
 
Try as he has, its been tough to stay cheery considering his results. In 43 tour events since his Open triumph, he has two top-10s compared to 26 missed cuts.
 
One of those good finishes, however, came at the Cialis Western Open, just two starts ago.
 
Prior to the event, Curtis was lamenting about his game. Afterwards, despite not winning, he had reason for optimism.
 
Curtis held a share of the 54-hole lead at Cog Hill with eventual champion Jim Furyk. His closing 74 placed him third.
 
I played well at Chicago, he said, so the game is starting to come around. Other than a few holes at the British, I played pretty well, as well. Golf is a funny game. It can come and go at any time.
 
It was with him Thursday, as he made three birdies and no bogeys on the 7,392-yard Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club.
 
Curtis hit a 6-iron out of a fairway bunker to 4 feet to birdie the 423-yard, par-4 fifth. He made a 12-footer for birdie at the 430-yard, par-4 14th, and he knocked a 3-iron to a foot to birdie the 230-yard, par-3 16th.
 
Everything went well today, said Curtis, who hit eight of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation, and needed only 30 putts.
 
The only rough times Curtis experienced in the first round were from a few New York Jets fans heckling his New York Giants outfit. But he was playing so well and was so locked in that he didnt pay them much attention.
 
When youre out there, you dont hear a lot of that stuff. You kind of focus on what youre doing, he said. If you play bad you might hear some of that stuff, but like today, I didnt hear too much of it.
 
Curtis is still stuck on one win; though, its not a bad win to have on your resume. Two years ago, he swooped in under the radar and snatched the claret jug out of the hands of some of the best players in the game.
 
And while hes technically playing from behind once again, hes not going unnoticed this time around. Not that its worrying him.
 
Im not going to lose any sleep over it tonight, he said. Theres a lot of golf; Im just going to take it one day, one shot at a time and just try to get myself in the best position for myself and try to do the best I can. If it means shooting 72 or 73, then it is. But Im going to go out there and try to do the same thing tomorrow.
 
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