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Curtis wins Booz Allen Classic by five strokes

6/28/2006 - Golf Ben Curtis

POTOMAC, Md. -- After making the winning putt, Ben Curtis
pumped his fists and joined his playing partners in a bow of
gratitude to the volunteers and superintendents behind the 18th
green.

He had reason to give thanks. After all, it took him six mostly
waterlogged days to win the Booz Allen Classic, his first title
since the 2003 British Open at Royal St. George's. The Tuesday
finish was the first on the tour since the 1980 Tucson Open.

"It was just a big relief to get it done and finally get this
win," Curtis said. "I've been waiting three years for it and it
finally came. We bowed to the superintendents because they did a
wonderful job getting the course ready."

But there was hardly anyone to see Curtis complete the
five-stroke victory. Fans were not allowed on the course Tuesday
because the tournament didn't anticipate six days of security
arrangements.

That left about 40 people, including a handful of fellow
golfers, to watch Curtis tap in for his second bogey of Tuesday
morning. The two harmless bogeys concluded a 1-under-par 70 in an
event that dragged on because of rain.

Curtis began Tuesday on the 17th hole facing a 28-foot par putt,
which he missed. He failed to get up and down for par on the 18th
and wound up at 20-under 264, one short off the tournament record.

Curtis, who earned $900,000, was five shots ahead of Billy
Andrade (64), Padraig Harrington (66), Nick O'Hern (67) and Steve
Stricker (68).

The tournament, already fighting for its existence, was depleted
because most top players skipped the event because it followed a
week of tough play at the U.S. Open. The tour plans to move the
event to the fall in 2007, but a monthslong search for a new title
sponsor has yielded no results. If a sponsor can't be found, the
tour's only stop in the Washington area probably will disappear.

Curtis said he would defend his title if he gets the chance, but
he wasn't given a proper trophy presentation on the 18th green.
That was done in the clubhouse.

Rain wreaked havoc on the schedule Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
By the end of play Monday, the TPC at Avenel course had been hit
with more than 9 inches of rain over 1½ days, and more rain fell
Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

There were small ponds around the 18th green, and every sand
trap was a mini lake. Officials scheduled a 7:30 a.m. start
Tuesday, but that was delayed by about an hour. The bad weather
also forced Tuesday's British Open qualifier at nearby
Congressional Country Club to be canceled.

There wasn't much drama at the start of the day -- Curtis already
had a big lead before he missed the 28-foot putt for par at the
17th hole. Brett Quigley, who played in the final group with Curtis
and Stricker, made the day's most exciting shot by holing a 45-foot
birdie putt on 18 to move into a tie for sixth.

"There was still plenty on the line," Quigley said.

Many tournaments hit by rain have been shortened to 54 holes.
Curtis said finishing the event, even on a Tuesday, made it more
satisfying.

"Anyone who plays this game, they don't want to be a 54-hole
winner," Curtis said. "Obviously you'll take it, you won't
complain about it, but I think if you have a choice to play 72
holes, you want to play 72 holes."