SAN ANTONIO — Six years later, Ben Curtis is a PGA Tour champion again.
His victory Sunday in the Texas Open 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 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 even-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 PGA 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.
It was 2003 when Curtis kissed the Claret Jug at Royal St. George’s with a square jawline and closely cropped black hair. This time, he was handed a pair of cowboy boots, smiling with a rounder face and a better appreciation of the journey.
“When you come out here and win one, well, if I win one every year I have a great career. That would be true,” Curtis said. “But, you know, to get to three, four, five wins – you’re a solid player. I just feel like you get yourself into contention and just have that belief, and anything can happen.”
Every had 71 and lost a chance at his first tour win with a shaky putter. Huh roared back with 69, but the Mayakoba Classic winner fell just short of completing what would have been a remarkable comeback.
Huh nearly withdrew Thursday when he plunged to 5-over through only his first three holes and finished with 77. But he rebounded with rounds of 68 and 67.