Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Was Ben Curtis' win in 2003 Event a Fluke?
Here are some quick facts about the last time the Open Championship was played at Royal St. George's:
-- Ben Curtis won the event with rounds of 72-72-70-69.
-- Ben Curtis became the first man since Francis Ouimet at the 1913 U.S. Open to bag a major championship trophy in his first ever appearance in one of the big four events.
-- Ben Curtis was ranked 396th in the world, and his move to 35th after the win marked the highest move in the history of the rankings.
-- Nobody in the world had heard of Ben Curtis outside of his family and Kent State teammates before Sunday at the '03 Open.
But Curtis did what nobody else could do. He held it together for 72 holes on a tough-as-an-English-filet style golf course, and made a huge putt on the 18th green that I remember remarking to my dad that rolling that putt in could make things very interesting (and sure, he needed a Thomas Bjorn meltdown to do it, but name me a golfer, and I'll find you an example of him melting down in a major or something doing it so they could win).
And I'm sure after his win you figured you'd never see his face again, and nobody in the world would have doubted that. It was a great story for those that love this sport, and it showed once again that golf is such a different test because the Charlotte Bobcats aren't going to win the NBA Championship next season no matter what aliens came down and stole our best players, but in golf, a guy like Curtis can win the biggest tournament in the world as a complete unknown.
But Curtis isn't some hack, and he isn't some one-hit wonder. There have been a lot less talented people to win majors, and by that, I mean Michael Campbell (sorry buddy). There have been names that have won tournaments and never won another event (Shaun Micheel is a good example of this).
Curtis isn't those guys. He's won two other tournaments since that British, he's finished second at another major championship, and he's made a Ryder Cup team. He might not be the perfect example of a major champion, but he sure isn't some hack that we should write off. Too many times we are all searching for the next great champion and it's easy to forget about the fun ones, like Curtis. A kid that comes into an event that he probably didn't even expect to win flying home (in coach I'm assuming) with the Claret Jug held tightly in his arms because he handled the conditions the best and he was the champion over everyone else.
I like those stories. They're different and unique to this game. Just remember when you're watching the British this week that Curtis stalked these links eight years ago a champion, and a well-deserving one at that.