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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Ben Curtis cards his low round at Muirfield Village

By Marla Published: June 5, 2011

Ben Curtis wasn't sure that shooting 8-under par on the weekend at Muirfield Village Country Club was a good omen for Monday's 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier.

But the Stow resident turned in his low round in nine appearances in the Memorial Tournament Sunday with a 5-under par 67. He finished with a 7-under total of 281.

That left the 2003 British Open champion from Kent State tied for 13th, 9 shots behind winner Steve Stricker.

The previous best for Curtis was a 68 in the first round in 2004. That year he shared the lead with eventual winner Ernie Els after 18 holes and a second-round 69 left him tied at the top with Justin Rose and Stephen Ames. With a 282 total, Curtis tied for eighth, his best finish at Muirfield.

On Sunday, Curtis carded seven birdies, including five of the first six holes on the back nine. His two bogeys came at No. 4, where he 3-putted from 25 feet, and at No. 13, where he missed a 6-footer for par.

With the course softened by rain after the third round, Curtis lamented how low he could have gone. He missed birdie putts at Nos. 1 (8 feet), 5 (5 feet) and 9 (14 feet) and failed to hole an 8-footer for par at No. 13.

"If I would have made all those putts I probably would have started steering it halfway through the round,'' Curtis joked.

"Yesterday I putted well and today I did the opposite. I could have been real low. I woke up yesterday feeling great and hit it so bad. Today I was like, 'I'm not really striping it that well' and I get out there and hit every shot. My iron play was good today.''

Playing in the U.S. Open every year starting in 2004, Curtis will attempt to qualify in Columbus. He goes off the 10th tee at Brookside Country Club at 7:10 a.m. and off No. 1 at The Lakes Country Club at 1:10 p.m.

Last year was the first time since his major victory that Curtis was been forced to qualify, and he did. He shot 66 at Brookside, where he won the second of his two Ohio Amateur titles by 17 strokes in 2000.

The U.S. Open is June 16-19 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

While his final 36 holes at Muirfield should have boosted his confidence, Curtis wasn't taking anything for granted going into today.

"Obviously you've got to feel good about yourself because you played well on the weekend,'' Curtis said. "But you never know.

"It was so soft today. The greens were slower, that's why the scores were a bit lower. Today I probably shot about as high as I could.''



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