PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Playing alongside Rickie Fowler and among a gallery that will surely be a sea of orange, Ben Curtis will probably feel like an invisible man during the final round of the Players. But for a guy who has played most of the past six years in obscurity, that shouldn't be a problem.
After nearly six years without a victory, Curtis came out of nowhere to win the Valero Texas Open last month. He's proving that performance was no fluke.
Since then, the 2003 British Open champion has been on the best stretch of his career with a T-13 in New Orleans, a T-5 at the Wells Fargo and now this effort at the Players, where he'll play in the penultimate pairing.
On Saturday, Curtis fired one of two bogey-free rounds (Kevin Na had the other) in the field despite gusty conditions at TPC Sawgrass. He missed a bunch of birdie opportunities, including two from within 10 feet on his final two holes.
Still, his play, or position on the leader board hasn't warranted an official post-round press conference any day, keeping the 34-year old under the radar -- as usual.
How surprising has Curtis' recent revival been? He began this season with such low status on the PGA Tour that he only got into the field at three tournaments -- two of which were opposite-field events -- prior to his comeback win in San Antonio. In fact, that victory is what got him into the field this week. But a win today will bring not only a check for $1.71 million, but a five-year exemption on tour as well.
Five is also the magic number on Sunday. It's the deficit he trails Na by heading into the final round at TPC Sawgrass. Even if no one watching other than his younger, flashier playing partner seems to notice.-- Alex Myers
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