and just have that belief anything can happen.” And now
he has four career wins, including a major.
Steve Johnson of the Hank Haney Golf Ranch near
Dallas, who worked with Curtis for several years begin-
ning late in 2007, paints a familiar scene of a young man
suddenly immersed in a world of success. “There were a
lot of distractions,” Johnson said about Curtis’ downslide.
“He has two young kids. He was in the process of building
a huge house in Ohio. I think it was a function of off-course
distractions. He didn’t want to practice.”
The Texas Open celebrated its 90th birthday this year,
and the winners list reads like a who’s who of golf—Hagen,
Hogan, Nelson, Snead, Palmer—until recent years. Some
blame the lack of top players on their dissatisfaction with
the Oaks course as much as on the fact that the tournament
is played midway between the Masters and the Players,
making it a good place on the calendar to take a week off.
That schedule problem will be fixed, at least for next year,
when the tournament moves to the week before the Masters
in what feels like a quid
pro quo for the extension through 2018 Valero
signed in February,
along with a $1.2 million
pledge to The First Tee
of San Antonio.
Some of the course
issues will also be addressed—four of the
most severe greens
will be re-done. But
even more than that,
players want to see
some of the in-between
areas around holes
cleared of cactus, brush, rocks and
other nasty stuff.
The Oaks course has pace-of-play
issues—one of the reasons they played
threesomes from two tees on Sunday—
“Playability for the everyday golfer is much more impor-
tant than rebuilding the greens,” Steve Flesch tweeted
on Saturday about landscape off the fairways.
Curtis, who was 74th in the field in driving distance but
second in driving accuracy, first in greens in regulation and
third in strokes gained/putting, was fighting it on the weekend, no question about it, but he fought it successfully.
After making no bogeys while playing the first 36 holes in
10 under par, he double-bogeyed Nos. 1 and 8 Saturday as he
grinded his way to a 73. The 72 on
Sunday was more of the same. It
was not pretty, but it was all about
not giving up.
Although the birdie putt Curtis
rolled in on the final hole was window dressing, the tears he cried as
he used a TV interview to say hello
to his wife and children were real.
That’s who Curtis is. “Happy to
be here,” he said with more than a
little emotion. “I wish I would have
been here before this.” It felt very
much late Sunday like Curtis will be
here again, and that the next time it
won’t take nearly six years. n
Filling a void: With
many big names
absent, Huh (left)
and Every took
advantage of the
second place two
Curtis’ winning total
of nine-under 279.
overComing DoUBLe troUBLe
There have been 25 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour since
a player won a title with two double bogeys as Ben Curtis did
at the Valero Texas Open: Keegan Bradley at last year’s PGA
Championship at Atlanta AC. Bradley not only doubled the par- 3
fourth hole in the first round and the par- 4 first hole in the third
round, he also tripled the par- 3 15th hole in the final round.
Between Bradley and Curtis, seven players captured PGA Tour
titles with a double bogey the week of their victory.
Carl Pettersson 2012 RBC Heritage
tiger Woods 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational
steve striCker 2012 Hyundai TOC
luke donald 2011 Children’s Miracle
Bill Haas 2011 Tour Championship
dustin JoHnson 2011 Barclays
WeBB simPson 2011 Wyndham Championship
—E. Michael Johnson