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June, 1, 2016

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Curtis ends 6-year PGA drought at Texas Open

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Former British Open champion Ben Curtis won his first U.S. PGA Tour title since 2006 on Sunday, holding on for an emotional two-shot victory over Matt Every and John Huh.

Curtis, the surprise winner of the British Open in 2003, birdied the par-5 18th for an even-par 72 on the day and a 9-under total of 279.

"It's been a tough couple of years," a teary Curtis said as he struggled for composure. "Just played through it, that's all you can do."

Curtis's lackluster results had seen him lose his full playing privileges on the US tour.

In 2011, he failed to finish in the top 10 even once for the first time since he joined the tour in 2003.

That's the year Curtis shot to prominence with his victory at the British Open, emerging with the triumph after a late collapse by Thomas Bjorn.

He won two U.S. PGA titles in 2006, but had not won since.

Every carded a 71 for 281, but some missed chances on the greens cost him a chance at a first tour title. Huh, winner of the Mayakoba Classic already this season, seized a share of second with a 69.

Huh almost pulled out on Thursday, when he was nine over through his first eight holes of the tournament.

He bounced back with rounds of 68 and 67 to put himself in the mix on Sunday, but nevertheless said he would see a doctor about a sore wrist.

"I didn't really expect too much, final round," Huh said.

Every, meanwhile, had opened the tournament with a course-record 63 at the TPC San Antonio on Thursday.

On Sunday, however, four missed putts from within 10 feet helped prevent him from catching Curtis.

Curtis led by one stroke when he fired a wedge over the 17th green. He chipped to 23 feet than made the left-to-right uphill putt to save par.

After that, his 12-foot birdie at the last was icing on the cake.

Curtis claimed his fourth U.S. PGA Tour title. The US$1.11 million first prize comes with a two-year tour exemption.

"You think you're just staying positive and not worried about it, but I think deep down, you realize all the hard work you put in that, you know, finally paid off," Curtis said.

"When you come out here and win one, well, if I win one every year I have a great career. That would be true," Curtis said. "But, you know, to get to three, four, five wins — you're a solid player. I just feel like you get yourself into contention and just have that belief, and anything can happen."

Defending champion Brendan Steele carded a 67 without a bogey to head a group tied for fourth on 5-under 283. He was joined by South Korea's Charlie Wi (71), Bob Estes (69) and Brian Gay (70).

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Former British Open champion Ben Curtis won his first U.S. PGA Tour title since 2006 on Sunday, holding on for an emotional two-shot victory over Matt Every and John Huh. (AFP)

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