Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 5/30/12
DUBLIN, Ohio - His unofficial status as Homecoming King at this weeks Memorial Tournament wont help a bit when the tournament starts Thursday morning. Remembering what its like to be crowned, though, has been good for Ben Curtis. In late April, the Columbus-area native and Kent State alum won a PGA TOUR event for the first time in six years when he posted a 9-under at the Valero Texas Open. Suddenly, the player who pulled one of the all-time shockers when he won the British Open in 2003 is back consistently contending amongst the worlds best golfers. Curtis enters The Memorial, played about 10 minutes from his childhood home in Ostrander, ranked 19th in the FedEx Cup Standings and 75th in the World Golf Rankings, 205 spots higher than he was on April 1, when he missed the cut at the Houston Open. Curtis earned 2,096,730 in a month-long period that started with the Texas Open and continued through the PLAYERS Championship, when he finished tied for second. That's more than the 2,035,126 total he made from 2009-2011. He comes home this week very, very happy. I never lost faith, Curtis said. I knew I was capable. I just think if you work hard you never know when those good things will happen. Im finally just now seeing the results. Thats golf, thats how it works. Curtis, who turned 35 last weekend, said he didnt know it had been six years or even close to that since his last win at the Booz Allen Classic in June 2006. I just knew it had been a while, he said. Time flies. He credits his recent success in large part to a change he made with his putting grip, a change that came in part from his golf coach at Kent State, Herb Page. Curtis, who lives with his wife and two young sons in Stow, Ohio, said Page had encouraged the change several months back after noticing something while watching highlights of Curtis British Open win. Its just a grip thing, Curtis said. Its amazing. Its a huge change. Im still even kind of messing with it to get comfortable with it. My (right) hand moved two inches on the club, more towards the center. Its made a huge difference to see the ball rolling and how its coming off. Ive been more consistent. Ive been hitting pretty well for probably two years and with my putter, Ive had glimpses. To put four rounds together is not easy, but to do it again has been fun. Curtis said his comfort level with the new putting grip has been both the most difficult and most important aspect of his turnaround. He said after a long period of waiting for disappointment as his putts approached the cup, hes now seeing many of them go in before they actually do. Herb always says if you work hard good things happen, but you definitely have to work on the right things, Curtis said. Hes always been a big supporter and felt I was working on the right things. Ive been waiting for this. I just didnt know when it would come. I definitely have confidence. Its been a lot of fun just to see putts go in again. Once I hit some putts the first couple days at Valero my confidence came back. Curtis finished tied for 13th at last years Memorial, shooting 7-under par over the final two days and finishing with a 67. He went on to miss the cut in five of the next seven events he played and never finished better than 32nd for the rest of 2011. After having to play his win in to events earlier this season or gain sponsors exemptions, hes now feeling not only like he belongs again, but that hell have a shot to be playing for better than 13th when Sunday comes. I believe Im going to play well, Curtis said. Ive put myself in the right position for something good to happen but you cant think about that stuff, you just add more pressure you dont need. When you have to fight to get in a tournament, thats hard. You have to battle to stay positive. Its always a little easier knowing you have a place to play.
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