Ben Curtis wins first Tour event since 2006SAN ANTONIO - Ben Curtis won the Texas Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour title since 2006, holding off Matt Every and John Huh in a tense back-nine finish for a two-stroke victory.
Curtis birdied the par-5 18th for an even-par 72 and 9-under total. It was a redeeming and emotional win for the 2003 British Open winner whose long slump relegated him to a status so low that the victory came in only the fourth PGA Tour event that he managed to get into this year.
Curtis calmly hugged his caddie after coolly sinking the clinching 12-footer, but then fought back tears just moments later while being interviewed.
“It’s been a tough couple years just fighting through it,’’ Curtis said softly and haltingly, after pausing for a few seconds to compose himself.
Every had a 71 and lost a chance at his first tour win with a shaky putter. Huh roared back with a 69, but the Mayakoba Classic winner fell just short of completing what would have been a remarkable comeback.
Korean-American Huh nearly withdrew Thursday when he plunged to 5 over through only his first three holes and finished with a 77. But he rebounded with rounds of 68 and 67 to give Curtis and Every another player to worry about Sunday.
“I didn’t really expect too much, final round,’’ Huh said.
While Huh’s first round was ultimately too big of a hole to overcome, Every couldn’t close the deal after starting the tournament with a course-record 63. Four blown putts from nine feet or closer - including a six-footer for birdie - kept Every a stroke back until Curtis birdied No. 18.
It was nonetheless a validating week for the 28-year-old Floridian, whose only name recognition in three winless years on the tour was a misdemeanor marijuana arrest as a rookie in 2010. That earned a PGA Tour suspension, and even now, Every’s official biography lists regaining his tour privileges as his biggest achievement.
Defending champion Brendan Steele, a distant afterthought for three rounds, made himself known again at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67 to finish an impressive weekend climb from 56th. He tied for fourth with Bob Estes (69), Brian Gay (70) and Korea’s Charlie Wi (71) at 5 under.
Curtis wasn’t the only emotional player on No. 18. Scott Piercy walked to the final hole tied for fourth at 5 under but walked off snapping his putter in half with two furious strikes over his knee. That was after the tour journeyman quadruple-bogeyed in a meltdown that started with a penalty stroke and ended with him tossing his glove in disgust after two-putting.
Piercy finished the round at par and eight back. Matt Kuchar, the tournament’s top-ranked player at No. 15, had a 73 to finish at 2 under.