Six years later, Ben Curtis is a PGA Tour champion again.
His victory Sunday in the Texas Open in San Antonio didn’t come easy. Neither did his words describing the redemption of nearly a decade spent falling from British Open champion to, this year, waiting by the phone simply for a chance to play.
His voice quivered, and his eyes welled up.
“It’s been a tough couple of years just fighting through it,’’ Curtis said.
Holding off Matt Every and John Huh in a tense back-nine finish, Curtis closed with a flourish by holing a 12-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th, sealing a two-stroke victory and his fourth PGA Tour title. His par 72 put him at 9 under and triggered a wave of emotions that Curtis said he didn’t know were in him.
Curtis won $1,116,000 and a two-year tour exemption - a more meaningful reward after being relegated to a status so low that this victory came in just the fourth tour event he managed to get into this year.
“You think you’re just staying positive and not worried about it, but I think deep down, you realize all the hard work you put in that, you know, finally paid off,’’ Curtis said.
Every had a 71 and lost a chance at his first tour win with a shaky putter. Huh, who shot 77 in the opening round, roared back with a 69, but the Mayakoba Classic winner fell just short of completing what would have been a remarkable comeback.
Defending champion Brendan Steele, a distant afterthought for three rounds, made himself known again at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67 to finish an impressive weekend climb from 56th. He tied for fourth with Bob Estes (69), Brian Gay (70), and Charlie Wi (71) at 5 under.
Champions - Michael Allen and David Frost shot a better-ball 10-under 62 for 29-under 187 total and a one-stroke victory over John Cook and Joey Sindelar in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf championship in Savannah, Ga.
Frost eagled the 14th to put the team at 29 under and that proved to be the difference as, moments later, Cook cut the lead to one with a 45-foot birdie at No. 18.
Three teams tied for third at 27 under: Andy Bean and Chien Soon Lu (62), Jeff Sluman and Brad Faxon (63), and Tom Purtzer and Brad Bryant (64).
European - Branden Grace won the China Open in Tianjin for his third tour victory of the year, closing with a 3-under 69 to hold off 2011 winner Nicolas Colsaerts (69) by three strokes. The 23-year-old Grace, from South Africa, finished at 21-under 267 at Binhai Lake. He won the Joburg Open and Volvo Champions in consecutive weeks in South Africa in January.
Asian - Third-ranked Lee Westwood defended his Indonesian Masters title in Jakarta with a two-stroke victory despite a shaky final round. The 39-year-old Englishman, who completed his delayed third round with a 7-under 65 to take an eight-shot lead in the morning, shot a 2-over 74 in his final round for a 16-under total of 272.
Former top-ranked tour player Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand shot a 67 in his final round to finish second, two shots back.