Ben Curtis Wins Booz Allen Classic

Updated 6/29/2006

POTOMAC, Md. (AP) -- In a sloppy finish to a sweet victory, former Kent State All-American Ben Curtis made two harmless bogeys Tuesday morning for a 1-under 70 to complete a five-shot victory in the rain-delayed Booz Allen Classic.

It was the first Tuesday finish on the PGA Tour in 26 years, but it was worth the wait for Curtis.

He won for the first time since he captured the 2003 British Open at Royal St. George's, one of the biggest upsets in golf history, and found validation on the TPC at Avenel with a wire-to-wire victory stretched over six days.

Curtis had a seven-shot lead and was on the 17th hole facing a 28-foot par putt when play was suspended Monday evening because of heavy rain. He returned Tuesday morning to make bogey, then finished with another bogey on the 18th -- in front of about 40 people -- to wind up at 20-under 264, one short of the tournament record.

He finished five shots ahead of Billy Andrade (64), Padraig Harrington (66), Nick O'Hern (67) and Steve Stricker (68).

After sinking the final putt, Curtis pumped his fists, and then joined his playing partners in a bow of gratitude to a group of volunteers and superintendents seated in a corporate tent behind the green.

"It was just a big relief to get it done and finally get this win. I've been waiting three years for it and it finally came," Curtis said. "We bowed to the superintendents because they did a wonderful job getting the course ready. They've worked harder than we have getting this tournament done."

Curtis earned $900,000 for the win.

For a tournament fighting for its existence, the Tuesday finish seemed appropriate, the first since the 1980 Tucson Open.

The field itself was watered down because most top players skipped the event because it followed a week of brutally difficult conditions at the U.S. Open. The tour plans to move the event to the fall in 2007, but a months-long 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 will probably disappear.

Curtis said he would defend his title if he gets the chance.

Rain wreaked havoc on the schedule Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

By the end of play Monday, the course had been hit with more than 9 inches of rain over 1┬Ż 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.

Fans were not allowed on the course Tuesday because the tournament didn't anticipate six days of security arrangements.

But despite an almost gallery-free environment, the final few groups were cheered on by the volunteers and fellow golfers, who had been scheduled to play in a British Open qualifier at nearby Congressional Country Club. The bad weather forced that event to be canceled.

There wasn't much drama at the start of the day as Curtis already had a big lead before he missed a 28-foot putt for par at the 17th hole. Brett Quigley, who played in the final group with Curtis and Stricker, came up with the most exciting shot of the day 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.

Previous events that have bogged down by rain have been shortened to 54 holes, but Curtis said finishing the event off, 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."