SAN ANTONIO — Former British Open champion Ben Curtis registered his first PGA Tour victory in six years by holding off a pair of pursuers down the stretch to claim an emotional two-stroke victory at the Texas Open in San Antonio on Sunday.
Curtis, the 2003 British Open winner, made a 22-foot par-saving putt at the 17th hole and then sank a birdie putt at the last to finish with a flourish for a level-par 72 and nine-under 279 total at TPC San Antonio.
“I don’t know how I did it,” Curtis said in a greenside TV interview, choking back tears. “Somehow these last couple of years, just fighting through it and stay positive. That’s all you can do.”
His fellow-Americans Matt Every (71) and 21-year-old John Huh (69) tied for second at 281 though the outcome was in doubt to the end as they trailed by one stroke heading to the 18th.
For the 34-year-old Curtis, who entered the tournament ranked 285th in the world after struggling the last couple of seasons, it was his fourth PGA victory, but first since the 2006 Booz Allen Classic.
Curtis failed to register a single top-10 finish last year and was playing in just his fourth tournament of the year due to a limited status on the tour.
“The last couple of years I felt like I was so close to playing so many good tournaments and just ended up missing the cut by one or having a bad round here or there, and just haven’t putted well,” Curtis told reporters. “Finally this week, every part of the game fell together.”
After starting the final round with a three-stroke lead, Curtis was caught by Every at the sixth hole after making his third birdie in a row.
A birdie at the seventh pushed Curtis back on top by a stroke, but Every tied him again after back-to-back bogeys by Curtis from the 11th.
The putter, however, failed Every down the stretch as he fell out of a tie for the lead when he two-putted from 11 feet for bogey at the 15th and missed a four-footer for birdie and a share of the lead at the 16th.
Huh, meanwhile, made a charge at the lead, remarkable considering he had started the tournament nine-over through his first eight holes on the way to an opening 77.
After clawing his way into the final grouping after rounds of 67 and 68, Huh moved within one stroke after catching fire after the turn with three birdies in five holes.
Huh, who won February’s Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, nearly cashed in chances to overtake Curtis as he lipped out two birdie putts down the stretch.