Ben Curtis was born on this day in 1977. An American professional golfer on the PGA Tour, best known for winning the 2003 Open Championship.
Curtis turned professional in 2000, originally playing on the Hooters Tour without any success. At the end of 2002, he finished in a tie for 26th at that year’s Q-School, earning his PGA Tour card for the following year, becoming one of the few players to completely skip the Nationwide Tour. His first year on tour began unspectacularly as he made a fair amount of cuts, but had no finishes in the top 25, until a tie for 13th at the Western Open on July 6, which qualified him for the British Open in England less than two weeks later.
Curtis entered the The Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 2003 as a 300-1 outsider, defying the odds to win the tournament by one stroke from Thomas Bjøn and Vijay Singh on the final day. The 2003 Open Championship was Curtis’ first appearance in a major; he became the first golfer since Francis Ouimet in the 1913 US Open to win his major championship debut. After his victory, Curtis jumped from 396th in the world rankings to 35th, the highest jump for any person. This victory and a solid first season on the PGA Tour led to Curtis’ being named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year for 2003.