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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 22:52 GMT 23:52 UK
Curtis triumph stuns experts
By Matthew Slater and Ed King
BBC Sport at the Open

Ben Curtis
Curtis was overwhelmed by his unexpected achievement
Golf pundits from across the world are admitting to being astounded by Ben Curtis' dramatic victory at the 132nd Open Championship.

The 26-year-old American ripped up the form book at Royal St George's on Sunday to become the first player to win an Open at their first attempt since Tom Watson managed it in 1975.

Wayne Grady, the 1990 USPGA champion, was just one pundit to confess to being amazed by the unheralded Curtis' achievement.

"That has got to go down as one of the biggest Open shocks ever," said the Australian. "This bloke has come from nowhere.

"In fact, I've had to have a few tinnies just to come to terms with it all!"

European tour and Ryder Cup veteran Ken Brown was another to admit his surprise.

"I'm pretty gobsmacked," said Brown. "To say what happened was a shock is the understatement of the century.

Three weeks ago he probably didn't know where Sandwich was
Wayne Grady

"Three weeks ago this guy probably wasn't the most famous person in his own house - now he's Open champion and the world is at his feet.

"And we really don't know much about him at all - I'm talking about the golfing world, even in America.

"The funny thing is he was doing his best to throw it all away on the back nine - four bogeys in seven holes are hardly ideal. But it was enough - just."

Grady also had doubts about Curtis' ability to hold it together down the stretch.

"I have to say I didn't think he would make it when I saw him on the final few holes," said Grady.

"The realisation of what he was doing seemed to have dawned on him and I just thought it would get too much.

"But he managed it, and who knows what he'll do now. Golfers work all their lives for moments like these and Ben has just done it at the first shout.

"Three weeks ago he probably didn't know where Sandwich was. Now he's won a Major and I can tell you it is a life-changing experience. We'll just have to see how he handles it."

Both Brown and Grady were quick to express sympathy for Thomas Bjorn, whose three shots to get out of a greenside bunker at 16 let Curtis in for victory.

Thomas Bjorn
Thomas Bjorn's bunker shots on the 16th were awful to watch - that's about as painful as it gets for a professional golfer
Ken Brown
"Bjorn will be feeling very down," said Brown. "A lot of us felt he was the form player heading into the last day.

"But a couple of missed shots cost him, and on a day as close as this that was crucial.

"Those bunker shots on the 16th were awful to watch - that's about as painful as it gets for a professional golfer - and he's normally so good from sand.

"Whether it was nerves or the emotion of the occasion we'll probably never know, but it'll certainly go down as one of those memorable Open moments, up there with Jean van de Velde at Carnoustie (in 1999).

"But whatever people say about the more experienced players throwing it away, Curtis shot a 69 on the final day of the Open, and anyone who does that is a deserved champion."

Links to more The Open 2003 stories


Who suffered the worst Open blunder?
2003: Thomas Bjorn
1999: Jean Van de Velde
19225 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion






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