Ben Curtis probably wasn’t counting, but he had to know it had been a long time since he lifted a trophy.
His personal dry spell, lasting nearly six years — precisely 2,045 days – finally ended on a sunny Sunday afternoon deep in the heart of Texas.
The 2003 British Open champion shot a final-round 72 to win the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio by two shots.
“The last couple of years I felt like I was so close to playing so many good tournaments. I’d end up missing the cut by one or I’d have a bad round here or there or I haven’t putted well,” he said. “Finally, every part of the game came together.”
Curtis climbed to 28th place on the FedEx Cup, but more importantly earned a PGA Tour exemption for the next two years.
After getting into only four events through the first 16 weeks of the season, Curtis can play almost any event he wants on Tour for the first time since the years following that breakthrough win at Royal St. George’s.
Asked where he would play next, he put that exemption status to work as quickly as he could.
“New Orleans, next week,” he said.
The final round of the Texas Open became a three-man race down the stretch. Every missed three birdie putts of less than 10 feet on the back nine, while Huh closed with a flourish, shooting 33 on the back.
Curtis couldn’t rest until Every missed his long birdie putt on the final hole and Huh barely missed a chip from just off the back of the green.
With two putts to win, Curtis needed only one, rolling in a 12-foot birdie at the last as icing on the cake.
But it was Curtis’ par save on the 17th that saved the tournament. After nearly skulling his wedge from 106 yards, he drilled a 23-footer for par to gain some much-needed momentum.
— Defending champion Brendan Steele shot a bogey-free 67 to finish tied for fourth in his title defense. Since 1960, only Arnold Palmer (1960-1962), Justin Leonard (2000, 2001) and Zach Johnson (2008, 2009) have successfully defended their title here.
–Bob Estes, the 1994 Texas Open champion and Austin, Tex. resident, notched his first top 5 finish (tied for fourth) since he lost in a playoff at the 2011 Greenbrier Classic.
–University of Texas Freshman, Jordan Spieth, shot a final round 75 to finish tied for 41st in his fifth start on the PGA Tour.
–Curtis has won three of six times when holding the third-round lead/co-lead on the Tour.
–This marks Curtis’ third top-10 finish since 2009: Sixth at the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational and tied for fourth at the 2009 Travelers Championship.
–Curtis is the first player since Jim Furyk (2010 TOUR Championship) to not break par on the weekend and go on to win the tournament.
–This week marked the first time since rounds one and two of the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open where Curtis posted back-to-back rounds in the 60s (Rd 1-2).
–Curtis recorded the 10th win by a player in his 30s this season, compared with six by players (five different players) in their 20s and two by players in their 40s.
–Dating to 2000, nine third-round leaders of the Valero Texas Open have held on for the win. So far this year on the PGA Tour, seven third-round leaders have converted for victory.
Michael Allen is on a roll in all kinds of weather.
One week after winning by himself, Allen partnered with David Frost this weekend and the duo claimed top prize in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, played in Savannah, Ga.
Threatening skies all day finally gave way to a microburst of rain as Allen and Frost played the 18th hole.
For Allen, it’s his second Champions Tour win in as many weeks, after a nearly three-year-long quest to get back to winning form after he won his very first start on the 50-and-over circuit in 2009. And that came after two decades of never winning on the PGA Tour.
“The last couple years I’ve played some good golf, but never have been able to win, so last (week) was a big breakthrough,” said Allen, 53.
“And then this week I just felt very comfortable personally, and I know I’ve got one of the toughest competitors out there with David.”
At Savannah Harbor Golf Resort, Allen and Frost were flawless in rounds of 62-63-62 in the better-ball format, and spectacular when they needed to be late in the final round. The par-4 14th was set up to tempt players to drive the green, and after Allen blew a 3-wood far right into trees, Frost hit up just short of the green.
Allen chunked his second shot out of the woods and flew his third over the green, leaving it up to Frost to make something happen. Frost did, holing a 40-foot chip to move the team from 27 to 29 under, leapfrogging the team of John Cook and Joey Sindelar for the lead.
The duo parred the last four holes, including the 18th in a downpour, good enough for a one-shot win.
“We played solid golf this year,” said Frost, who picked up his second Champions Tour win. “If it wasn’t Michael, it was me; if it wasn’t me, it was Michael. So we played some great golf at different times every day.”