It seems every week brings a different winner on Tour, and while we know the Tigers and the Rorys, there are quite a few who snag a victory without necessarily snagging the public's imagination. So that's why we're here. Read up on your newest champions so you'll be able to show off when the majors roll around and your non-golf-freak friends actually pay attention to the game.
Ben Curtis, winner, Valero Texas Open
Ben Curtis, Ben Curtis ... name sounds familiar, but ... oh, wait! This is the dude that won the British Open!
Yes, in one of golf's most improbable stories, Ben Curtis captured the 2003 British Open thanks in part to a total collapse by Thomas Bjorn. Leading by two strokes with three holes left to play at Royal St. George's, Bjorn got stuck in a bunker on 16 that required three strokes to escape. Curtis won the tournament while standing on the driving range warming up for a playoff. He was the first player since Francis Ouimet at the U.S. Open in 1913 to win the first major in which he played; Keegan Bradley later matched the feat at last year's PGA Championship.
But even though Curtis ensured himself of golf immortality, success in the British Open's wake was tough to come by. Although the win gave him a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, he only managed two wins, both in 2006, and only three top-10s in majors (2007 and 2008 British Opens, 2008 PGA Championship.) It wasn't until this past weekend's Valero Texas Open that he returned to the win column, taking down Matt Every and John Huh by two strokes. It may not have been a marquee event, but with an accompanying Masters invitation and a probable spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs, it'll do just fine.
To close, here's a fun gem, Curtis on David Letterman's show from way back in 2003 right after his British Open win. Best line: that Tiger Woods "has this aroma about him that's unbelievable." And don't miss Curtis' shot from off the top of the Ed Sullivan Theater at the 5:30 mark; it's a good thing he didn't pitch like that at Royal St. George's:
Probably not going to get a return invitation for winning Valero, but he now has a Tour exemption through 2014, which is almost as good.