Former Open champion Ben Curtis revived fading memories of his tournament prowess by taking the second-round lead at the Texas Open on Friday.
Getting in his round before a two-hour storm delay and resultant strong winds, Curtis shot another bogey-free five-under 67 to finish at 10 under. He was two strokes ahead of David Mathis, and three in front of Cameron Triangle and Matt Every.
Mathis matched Curtis with a 67, Triangle had a 65 and Every was poised to inch even closer before darkness suspended play. He would line up for an 11-foot birdie chance on the par-four 17th when second-round play resumed yesterday.
Blake Adams (69), Ryan Palmer (69) and Hunter Haas (74) were tied for fifth at four-under.
In his first time playing TPC San Antonio, Curtis has looked right at home after starting the year in Dubai and hopping around on the European Tour. The Texas Open is just his fourth PGA Tour stop because of his low conditional status following a miserable year last year, when he did not muster a top-10 finish for the first time since joining the tour in 2003.
That was the year Curtis came out of nowhere to win the Open. He racked up two more tour victories in 2006, but has not won since, and his 149th ranking on the money list last year was a career-worst. The slump, Curtis said, has left him not only trying to repair his game, but also his mindset.
No longer able to pick and choose where he plays, Curtis described simply being “ready to go” if his phone rings the week before a tournament. He said he tries to focus on the 12 to 15 starts he expects to make this year, rather than dwell on his place near the bottom rung of the tour.
The 36-hole lead is his first since the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2010.
“Everybody knows me, know that I don’t stress about much,” Curtis said. “If you see me stressing it’s probably over nothing, too. I usually sweat the small stuff and the big stuff, I don’t really worry about.”
Triangle and Scott Piercy, who started the day four-over, vaulted back into contention with their 65s. Triangle began a bogey-free round with birdies on five of his first six holes, using his irons on the fairway to set up four putts from 4 feet or closer.
“There was no wind this morning and it was a little softer,” Triangle said. “So you could be a little more aggressive to the pins.”
The afternoon group fared badly, as a still morning gave way to strong wind gusts delivered by a passing storm cell, freezing the leaderboard and raising the projected cut line to four-over. Troy Matteson tumbled hardest, slipping from fourth to potentially out, after an 81 which included a quadruple-bogey on the par-five 14th.