BEN CURTIS stunned the world when he won the 2003 Open while ranking 396th in the world.
The American entered the event as a big underdog at 500/1, his big debut.
In a field that has included the likes of Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo, Curtis has not received a single prayer from the golf community.
But the Ohio-born star put on the performance of his life, beating competition from Thomas Bjorn to snag the Claret Jug – and a £700,000 prize.
Many of Curtis’ former colleagues on the PGA Tour made their way to the Royal Liverpool this week to take part in the latest edition of The Open.
But the 46-year-old remains at home in Ohio – after he hung up his racket in 2017.
Curtis went on to win three more PGA Tour events after his Open triumph and was part of the 2008 USA’s winning Ryder Cup squad.
But he could never recreate the magic of 2003 in a major.
Since turning his back on professional golf, Curtis has taken an unusual path for a former superstar: he coaches a high school team.
Curtis and his wife Candace have two children together – the former Open winner was eventually persuaded to coach his son.
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In conversation with the New York TimesHe revealed: “My son was on the team and the coach decided to retire.”
“I got a call from the sporting director and I was like, ‘Who do you think?’ And they said, “You, that’s all.”
“I asked them to take a few days and try to find someone. I didn’t want to put so much pressure on my son, but he said, ‘Coach, dad, coach.'”
Since retiring in 2017, Curtis has also led an academy in his home state.
Deciding that life on tour was no longer for him, he added, “When the kids got to school age. When they were young and you could take them with you, that was great.”
“Then they went to school and their schedules are limited and you travel and play in these tournaments and you’re on your own.”
“IT’S GETTING HARD”
“I’ve never played much, but when you’re used to having them for like 20, 22 events a year, suddenly it’s down to six or seven, and now you’re out there for 20, 22 events on your own.” it’s gonna be hard
“It doesn’t matter how beautiful the resort is. Every hotel room, whether it’s the Ritz-Carlton or the Courtyard Marriott, is a rectangular room with a bathroom inside. And it’s hard for the family at home, also because they want me home.”
Until he’s 60, Curtis is eligible to compete in the Open every year as a former champion – but hasn’t been tempted to come back just yet.
Asked if he would ever be persuaded to try again, he told The Guardian: “All my friends bother me all the time. With so many offerings I have, I would probably need a new caddy for every shot.”
“There is no plan at the moment but things can change because five years before I quit golf I would have thought you crazy if you told me I would stop competing.
“If I went, it wouldn’t take two days and wave at the five people who follow me. When I come back I have to feel like I have a chance to be competitive and break through.
“I also don’t want to take a spot away from anyone trying to make a living. If I can do it, I have to feel ready to compete.”
Asked if he will be watching what’s happening at Royal Liverpool from afar, he told the NYT: “It’s funny: it’s been seven years since I’ve played but now I wake up and realize it’s almost over is.”
“You completely forget. You get up and start doing your stuff and it’s 2pm and you think you’ll see what golf is – and then it’s over.”
“The first three years were like that and I really missed it. Now I’m going to watch it and I enjoy it.”