Here are 5 Things to take away from Ben Curtis’ two-shot victory at the Valero Texas Open on Sunday.
1. BIG BEN: Ben Curtis did what he had to at TPC San Antonio – stay in play.
Curtis was second in driving accuracy at 73.2 percent, while coming in No. 1 in greens in regulation at 68.1 percent. On a course that can be penal for an errant shot – just ask Scott Piercy about his quadruple-bogey 9 at the par-5 18th to finish his tournament – Curtis didn’t give the course a chance to take away the title.
Curtis also used opening 67s on Thursday and Friday to afford him the luxury of a 73-72 finish on the weekend. Curtis didn’t have a bogey in the first two days.
And it was a bogey that he avoided on Sunday that likely clinched his victory. Sitting on the edge of the green at the par-4 17th, looking at more than 20 feet to save par, Curtis drained the putt, the ball falling in on the right edge. Curtis looked at the crowd, tongue waving out of his mouth and let out a deep sigh.
He had avoided disaster and closed the door on John Huh and Matt Every – who each trailed by a shot heading to the final hole – prior to stepping up to the 18th tee.
At TPC San Antonio, it isn’t about attacking, it is about taking what the course will give you.
And it gave Curtis his first title since 2006.
2. NOT EVERY’S TIME: Matt Every keeps knocking on the door, but no one seems to be answering just yet.
Every picked up his fourth top-10 finish of the season (he was T-6 at Sony, T-3 at Mayakoba and T-8 last week at the RBC Heritage), but might have thrown away his best chance to win to date.
While he started fast on Sunday with four birdies in his first six holes, it was birdie misses at Nos. 12 and 14, combined with untimely bogeys at Nos. 11 and 15 that allowed Curtis to keep a stranglehold on the lead.
Every failed to take advantage of his opening, 9-under 63 that set the course record at TPC San Antonio. He only had nine birdies over the next three rounds.
The second-place finish secured Every’s Tour card for 2013, but the Florida product is still looking for that elusive first win.
3. FIRST-ROUND BLUES, HUH? John Huh was the only player in the field to card three rounds in the 60s, posting 68-67-69 in Rounds 2-4.
But it was the first round that cost him. While his 77 wasn’t abnormal when you look at the field as a whole – four players in the top 24 also shot a 77 at some point in the tournament – but it cost him a chance at his second victory of the season.
That first round featured two double-bogeys (on Nos. 12 and 15), five bogeys (all on the back nine) and five birdies (three on the front nine).
According to reports, Huh injured his wrist during the tournament and has scheduled a doctor’s appointment to see if there is any significant damage.
Huh has three top-10 finishes this season.
4. WHAT ABOUT BOB? Bob Estes has quietly had a solid season in 2012, picking up his fourth T-24 or better finish of the season.
The 46-year-old used a final-round, 3-under 69 to finish T-4. The round could have been much better after making the turn in 3-under 33, but 11 straight pars to finish his round left him four shots behind Curtis.
Estes rode his putter into contention, finishing T-6 in putts per round (26.8) and was 34th in strokes gained putting.
5. FORGET THE ALAMO: Kevin Na should put TPC San Antonio in his rearview mirror and never look back. Ever.
A year after a Tour-record 16 on the par-4 9th hole – he actually “retired” the shirt he wore in 2011 by hanging it on a tree during the first round this year – Na managed a par at the hole on Thursday, but the rest of the round was very forgettable.
After carding a 7-over 79, Na decided to withdraw.
No word on whether that might a permanent thing for him at San Antonio.