Curtis wins Booz Allen Classic by five strokes

Updated: June 28, 2006, 4:37 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Curtis Loses Label
Just as Phil Mickelson shed the label of Best Player To Have Never Won A Major with his 2004 Masters victory, Ben Curtis rid himself of an ugly designation early Tuesday morning -- that of one-hit wonder.

• For more of Jason Sobel's analysis in the golf blog, click here.

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.

Ben Curtis
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesBen Curtis dropped two strokes Tuesday but won anyway.

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."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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