Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Big Ben: The British Open

New Ohio golf legend

In a land of castles and green meadows that lead to the sea, a fairy tale came true this past weekend when Ohio's Ben Curtis won the British Open.

Curtis accomplished one of the most improbable feats in sport: winning the world's oldest and most prestigious major golf tournament, on his first try. Not since Tom Watson did it in 1975 had such a feat been accomplished. More amazing is that this was Curtis' first tournament win - anywhere. Congratulations to the Kent resident and former All-American golfer at Kent State University.

There was a time when American golfers skipped the British Open because it was held out of the States and because it is played on rougher links courses, not the lush fairways Americans are accustomed to. But by skipping the Open, they missed the opportunity to play against truly a world-class field. That has changed.

At 26, Curtis, a PGA Tour rookie, beat the best golfers in the world: fellow Americans Tiger Woods (No. 1), Davis Love III (No. 4), Fiji's Vijay Singh (No. 6) and all the rest.

Before the tournament, Curtis was ranked No. 396 in the world. Ohioans knew him as the two-time state Amateur Champion. Now he joins the likes of Watson, Arnold Palmer and fellow Ohioan Jack Nicklaus as a British Open champion.

In a weekend that saw Los Angles Lakers star Kobe Bryant defending a sexual assault charge and a Cincinnati-native boxer dying in the ring in Los Vegas, Curtis' good-news victory seemed all the more refreshing. Here's to fairy tales coming true.

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