BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Ben Curtis is no longer a surprise guest when his name appears on a leader board at a major. Not after bouncing back from a horrendous start at the British Open to finish in the top 10 at Royal Birkdale. And not even after playing his last eight holes in the 90th PGA Championship Thursday in six-over par. "He might not be the best swinger of the club in the game," said caddie Andy Sutton. "But he has a fantastic head and a great heart."
Both of those elements came into focus Friday at Oakland Hills, when Curtis rebounded once again with a 67 to move up 41 spots and finish the day in a tie for second with Charlie Wi and Justin Rose at even-par 140, one stroke behind leader J.B. Holmes. It has been five years since Curtis' improbable victory in the 2003 British Open. He has backed that up with two wins on the PGA Tour and he goes into the weekend at the PGA with chance to validate that first major.
"I think I've proven I can play out here," Curtis said. "To me that's all that matters. Because if I sit here and think about winning another major, I'll be thinking about it for the rest of my life. I don't have to prove it to anybody but myself."
Curtis considers himself a major player because of his grinding disposition. After starting out triple bogey-double bogey at the British Open, he fought through rain and 40 mile-per-hour crosswinds thinking that if he could break 80, he'd make the cut. How did he get past the six bogeys he closed with Thursday? "Sleep," he said.
Overall, he makes a lot of pars, not many bogeys, and never quits.
"I don't know what it is," he said. "I think I just try to get my game ready for these majors. I just like tough conditions."
-- Tim Rosaforte