By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
One of the year’s better stories on the PGA TOUR was authored last week by Ben Curtis, ending a six-year winless drought on TOUR with a win at the Valero Texas Open.
Curtis was the Cinderella champion won the 2003 British Open (Valero T2 finisher John Huh was 13 years old then) and two events in 2006, then a few years later dropped off the radar. This year he as many starts on the European Tour than the PGA TOUR (three each) before winning in Texas.
In winning by two shots at TPC San Antonio, Curtis had another first of sorts – the first win for Titleist’s AP1 712 irons. Most Titleist players on TOUR play the AP2 irons, which have more of a traditional blade feel and less offset. The AP1 irons have a high-density tungsten sole weight positioned toward the toe, increasing ball speed on off-center hits and reducing twist at impact.
Curtis had a 4-iron through pitching wedge in his AP1 set – which we’ll see a lot more of in the U.S. now that Curtis has winner’s status again on TOUR.
GOLDEN: Ping has enjoyed a great season so far, with wins on TOUR by Mark Wilson (Humana Challenge), John Huh (Mayakoba Golf Classic), Hunter Mahan (World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, Shell Houston Open).
All of its players have a gold-plated replica of their winning putters put in Ping’s vault in Scottsdale, Ariz., and sometimes even more special additions are put in the vault. A double eagle at the Masters would qualify, so a gold S56 4-iron was added to the vault recently in honor of Louis Oosthuizen’s feat. He also received one for his collection.
WEEKENDER: David Duval tested a Callaway Razr Fit driver against a Titleist 910D3 and TaylorMade RBZ last week, with the Callaway going into his bag at Valero at 9.1 degrees loft. He ended up making his first cut of the season after seven misses, and shot his best round on Sunday (71) to finish in a tie for 60th.
BY A HAIR: Amazing how just the slightest adjustments make all the difference for TOUR players. At TPC San Antonio, Derek Lamely thought a flatter lie angle would help to stop losing shots to the left with his 15-degree Callaway Diablo Octane Tour fairway wood . Callaway techs adjusted the angle by one degree – from 59 to 58 – allowing him to hit a baby fade. No more lefts. He finished T35 at Valero, his second-best finish of the season.
WINNER’S BAG: Curtis at the Valero Texas
Driver: Titleist 910D3 (Aldila RIP NV 65X shaft, 8.5 degrees)
Fairway wood: Titleist 910Fd, (Aldila RIP 80X shaft, 13.5 degrees)
Hybrids: Titleist 910H (Aldila hybrid NV 85X shafts; 18, 20 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP1 712 (Dynamic Gold shafts; 4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Spin Milled C-C 200 (52 degrees), C-C TVD (58 degrees)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
After a winless drought and lots of hard work, Ben Curtis is back on top after winning the Valero Texas Open. What's interesting is that over the last two weeks we have discussed two guys -- Bubba Watson and Carl Pettersson -- that haven't really changed their swings over the years and have elected to be their own swing coach. However, this week, we have a winner in Ben Curtis who has done lots of work to his swing and overall game to get back into the winner's circle.
During this time, I have thought a lot about much of the publicity that Bubba Watson and Carl Pettersson have received about their home-bred swings, and how this has perhaps slightly tainted today's coaching model that consists of swing instructors, trainers, sports psychologists, high speed cameras, launch monitors and more. Of course, working in the coaching business, I like to think we can help all golfers, but the reality is that golf instruction and technology is not for everybody.
So the question becomes: Is golf instruction for you? Here are a handful of things to think about, just as Ben Curtis did when he made the decision to change his swing and work on his game to get back on top.
1. Are you happy with your skillset? Every day at the TOUR Academies, we work to help golfers improve their skillset -- whether it's hit a draw off the tee, take a more consistent divot with the irons, improved bunker play, etc. Educating golfers on what they need to do to improve their skillset can be a great experience.
Key: Good information in the right order.
2. Are you happy with your approach to the game? One of the most important things in golf is managing your expectation level to the amount of time you are putting into it. Only you can decide your definition of fun. Educating golfers on what they need to do to help manage their time is an important issue to the popularity and growth of our sport.
Key: Good attitude with a balanced approach.
3. Are you taking responsibility with your game? There is no bigger distraction to one's game then blaming the golf course or others when it comes to measuring results. The reality is this: Golf is one of the most independent games you will ever play. As a golfer, you need to own your game, but also understand there are trained professionals that can help you in the areas of the game that may be in need of assistance.
Key: Take control of your game and own it.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here .
Check out the top five shots of the week from the Valero Texas Open and Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, featuring highlights from Bobby Clampett, John Cook, Ben Curtis, Bill Lunde and Cameron Tringale.
|Bubba Watson vs. Keegan Bradley||Two major winners square off. Bubba is the reigning champ.|
|Graeme McDowell vs. Luke Donald||Two Euros inside the FedExCup top 30 do battle in NoLa.|
|Nick Watney vs. David Toms||Who wins between these past champions off to slow '12 starts?|
|Ben Curtis vs. Ben Crane||Battling Bens, both boasting four wins, head to TPC Louisiana.|
|Webb Simpson vs. Steve Stricker||Consistency is key for both players. Which one has the edge?|
Ben Curtis got his first win in six years, shooting an even-par 72 on Sunday to win the Valero Texas Open by two over John Huh and Matt Every.
After the round, Curtis, who had limited status on the PGA TOUR after finishing outside the top 125 on the money list last season, fought back tears, saying, "It's been a tough couple of years."
Leading by three at the start of the day, Curtis fell into a tie for the lead on a few occasions but never trailed on another difficult day of scoring at TPC San Antonio.
After back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes, Curtis dropped into a tie for the lead with Matt Every. Three holes later, however, Every made a bogey of his own to fall one behind and into a tie with John Huh.
On the 17th hole, it looked like Curtis would again drop a shot and into a tie for the lead when he bladed a wedge over the green. Instead, he rolled in a 23-foot curling, left-to-right putt to save par and keep his lead.
With Every and Huh both trailing by one coming to the par-5 18th, neither was able to make birdie, meaning that Curtis had two putts to win. He only needed one, rolling in the 12-footer for birdie.
The victory is the first for the former British Open champ since the 2006 84 Lumber Classic and comes nine years after his improbable triumph at Royal St. George’s. It is his fourth career win and moves him to 28th in the FedExCup standings.
Ben Curtis got his first victory in six years on Sunday with a two-shot win at the Valero Texas Open. The win locks up his PGA TOUR card for the next two years and moves him to 28th in the FedExCup standings. Congratulate him below and we’ll pass it along.
The good news for Ben Curtis? He leads by three strokes as he gets set to tee off in about 25 minutes. The bad news? The last time someone led by at least three strokes going into the final round of this event they ended up losing. That was in 2007, by the way, when Jesper Parnevik failed to hang on and Justin Leonard went on to win.
Curtis, however, has won twice when holding at least a share of the lead going into the final round, the last of which came at the 2006 84 Lumber Classic, which also happens to be his last victory on the PGA TOUR.
More good news: Dating to 2000, eight third-round leaders of the Valero Texas Open have held on for the win, most recently Brendan Steele last year. Six 54-hole leaders this year have held on for the win, the last coming just last week when Carl Pettersson won at Harbour Town.
Here are three other very important facts concerning Curtis: He’s second this week in driving accuracy, first in greens in regulation and first in strokes gained-putting. No wonder he was able to survive to double bogeys on Saturday and still lead. Now the question is, can he win?