Sunday, July 20, 2003

British Open Notebook

Ohioan Curtis up among stars

The Associated Press

SANDWICH, England - The leaderboard at the British Open has a lot of star power. So what's Ohioan Ben Curtis doing up there?

The PGA Tour rookie has made quite an impression in his first major, shooting a 1-under-par 70 Saturday that left him two strokes behind leader Thomas Bjorn after the third round.

Now, he'll compete against the likes of Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry and Sergio Garcia, all within two strokes of Bjorn. Is Curtis, 26, surprised by his performance?

"Yes and no," he said. "I have been playing a lot better the last three weeks and this kind of golf suits me the best. It's not going to take 10, 15 or 20 under par to win. If you stay around par, you're going to be right in the hunt."

Curtis has done just that, shooting 72 the first two days. He's 1 over after 54 holes at Royal St. George's. While most of the attention is sure to be focused elsewhere in the final round, Curtis won't rule out making a run at the claret jug.

"Even if you are like two or three back going into the back nine, you never know what can happen," the two-time Ohio Amateur champion said. "If I shoot like I did today, 4 under, you never know. You get a couple of putts to go in and anything can happen."

Curtis, who played the last two years on the Hooters Tour, qualified for the PGA Tour this year. He earned a spot in the British Open by tying for 13th at the Western Open - the best showing of his young career.

"There are a lot of heavy guys out there, and I'll just do the best I can," he said. "It's a dream come true so far."

ROLLERCOASTER: Singh shot a 33 on the front nine to move into contention, then ran into a stretch that almost ruined his chances of winning.

Singh bogeyed four straight holes beginning with the 10th to go from even par to 4-over par. "I wasn't in too much trouble, either," Singh said. "Just missing the greens, missing short putts, three-putting. But everyone seems to have the same problems. You have to be patient."

Singh followed his own advice. He came back to birdie three of his last four holes for a 69 that put him at 214, just two shots off the lead.

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