Delayed Gratification for Curtis


2006 Booz Allen ClassicPOTOMAC, Md. -- Barring a total collapse, Ben Curtis should finally wrap up his second PGA TOUR victory on Monday.
Curtis led the Booz Allen Classic by eight shots when the final round was suspended shortly before 6:30 p.m. local time because of thunderstorms.
Ben Curtis
Ben Curtis was cruising until inclement weather halted play Sunday.
At 23 under par through 11 holes in his final round, Curtis is on pace to break the tournament scoring record. But more importantly, a title would be Curtis' first since he won the 2003 British Open as a rookie.
'I don't want to go to sleep tonight like I've got it won because I still have six and a half holes to go,' Curtis said. 'It's not going to be easy, but I have to go to bed confident and know that I can do it.'
Ireland's Padraig Harrington is alone in second place at 15 under par through 13 holes in his final round. Billy Andrade, Ben Crane, Jeff Gove, Nick O'Hern and 1996 champion Steve Stricker are on the course at 14 under.
Behind Curtis, weather was the story of the day.
Anticipated rain pushed the first tees times back from 7:00 a.m. local time to 1 p.m. Later, thunder and lightning eventually led officials to suspend play for the day at 6:26, with a re-start scheduled for Monday morning at 8 a.m.
That's when players will presumably begin positioning for second place behind Curtis.
With just one bogey through 65 holes, Curtis has taken advantage of the TPC at Avenel's optimal scoring conditions -- one week after he finished 57th at the U.S. Open following four days of hacking it around tough Winged Foot.
After finishing the third round with a five-shot lead, the tournament was his to lose when play finally got underway Sunday.
Curtis extended his lead with a birdie at the par-5 second, rolling in an 8-foot putt to reach 20 under.
He added a birdie at the par-4 fifth, tapped in for birdie at the par-5 fourth, then rolled in a 25-footer at the ninth to make the turn at minus-23.
Before the horn sounded, Curtis hit his second shot at the par-4 12th into the water. Other than that, little else remains for Curtis to worry about -- except waking up to make his tee time following a long day on the course.
'You're always afraid something isn't going to work,' Curtis said.
Since his win at Royal St. George's three years ago, Curtis has made just 32 cuts in the 66 events on the PGA TOUR calendar in which he made a start. His best finish during that period was third place at last year's Western Open.
During one particularly poor stretch, Curtis missed eight straight cuts early in the 2005 season. However, now he's on pace to break the tournament scoring record of 263, held by Andrade, Jeff Sluman (1991) and Adam Scott (2004).
'Hopefully [a win] will be the start of something good for me,' Curtis said.
Robert Allenby and Brett Quigley are on the course and tied for eighth place at minus-13. Bart Bryant is one shot further back, while Jose Coceres holds the clubhouse lead at 11 under following a final-round 67.
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