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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
Curtis clinches Open
New Open champion Ben Curtis
It's the grandest tournament of them all
Ben Curtis

American rookie Ben Curtis won the 132nd Open Championship after a rollercoaster final round at Royal St George's.

Curtis, competing in his first-ever major, won by one stroke after shooting a 69 to end on one-under-par.

His nearest challenger, Thomas Bjorn, self-destructed on the closing holes having held the lead for much of the final round.

His double bogey at the 16th, where he needed three attempts to get out of a greenside bunker, effectively handed the Claret Jug to Curtis.

"It's unbelieveable," said the 26-year-old from Ohio as he became the first first-time Open winner since Tom Watson in 1975.

"It's the grandest tournament of them all and I'm very fortunate to share the title with all the great past winners."

"I'm going to be up there with the elite. I feel I belong. And I'm looking forward to it."

Curtis, ranked 396th in the world, began the day at one over, but enjoyed a fantastic start, racing to five under after 11 holes.

FINAL LEADERBOARD
-1: B Curtis
Level: V Singh, T Bjorn
+1: T Woods, D Love III
+2: B Davis, F Jacobsen
+3: N Faldo, K Perry

He promptly squandered that advantage by making four bogeys on the last seven holes, but still reached the clubhouse with a one-under-par total of 283.

And he ended up being the only man to finish under par for the whole tournament when Bjorn collapsed over the closing holes.

The Dane bogeyed the 15th, took five at the 16th after his nightmare in the sand, and dropped another shot at the 17th.

That meant he needed a birdie at the 18th to force a play-off, but could only make four, and had to settle for joint second alongside Fiji's Vijay Singh.

I lost it on the 16th but 15 was the key because I hit it in a fairway bunker and let a three-shot lead go
Thomas Bjorn

"Obviously I'm disappointed. I thought I did all the right things all day long," said Bjorn.

"I lost the Open on that 16th hole but 15 was more the key because I hit it in a fairway bunker and I let a three-shot lead go."

Tiger Woods and fellow American Davis Love were tied for third on one over, with England's Brian Davis and Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson a shot further back.

Woods, and the other big names in the frame, had threatened at various points during the day but failed to sustain a consistent challenge.

The world number one enjoyed another good outward nine, but lost his touch with the putter after the turn, and ended with a level-par 71.

Three-time former champion Nick Faldo finished on three over after leaking three shots in his last four holes for a 70.

Defending champion Ernie Els, who had been off the pace from the start but never entirely out of contention, ended on six over.





Links to more The Open 2003 stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
Open champion Ben Curtis
"I set out there to win"


Thomas Bjorn
"It was an expensive mistake"



THE OPEN 2003

CURTIS CLINCHES CLARET JUG

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