Ben Curtis won the British Open in 2003 as a PGA Tour rookie and became an instant folk hero, appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman and visiting George W. Bush at the White House. But by last year, the 35-year-old Curtis was just another professional player trying to make a living, missing the cut in 13 events and earning a little more than $420,000. Just when many were ready to write him off, the Kent State University graduate won the Valero Texas Open in April and tied for second place in the prestigious Players Championship a month later. Curtis, who lives near Kent with his wife, Candace, and their two children, is back among the tour's top money earners and, at press time, was making a run at qualifying for the Bridgestone Invitational at Akron's Firestone Country Club, Aug. 2-5.
Q: Winning on the PGA Tour is a difficult task. What did it mean to win after a six-year dry spell?
A: It was huge for me. This is a frustrating game, and it can bite you in the butt. No matter how old you are, you still learn every day. I've always known I had the talent, and on any given week I feel I can beat anyone out there.
Q: Many tour players spend a lot of time on the practice range before and after they play a competitive round. What's your approach?
A: I basically show up about 40 minutes before my tee time and then just go out and play. Every golfer is different but I seem to do my best when I'm relaxed. For me, the big thing is to treat every tournament the same.
Q: Do you still get a thrill out of being a British Open champion?
A: They've been playing major tournaments for about 150 years, and I'm one of only about 250 golfers who have won one. It's definitely a small club, and I'm glad I'm in it.