I shocked the world to win The Open ahead of Tiger Woods at odds of 500/1… now I’m a high school teacher

BEN CURTIS stunned the world by winning The Open in 2003 while ranked 396th in the world.

The American went into the event, his Major debut, as a huge outsider at 500/1.

PABen Curtis got his hands on the Claret Jug in 2003[/caption]

AFPThe American produced a stunning performance to win on his Major debut[/caption]

In a field including greats like Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo – Curtis wasn’t given a prayer by the golfing community.

But the Ohio-born star produced the performance of his life, beating off competition from Thomas Bjorn to get his hands on the Claret Jug – and £700,000 in prize money.

Many of Curtis’ former peers on the PGA Tour have made their way to Royal Liverpool this week for the latest edition of The Open.

But the 46-year-old remains at home in Ohio – having hung up his clubs in 2017.

Curtis went on to win three further PGA Tour events after his Open triumph and was part of the US’ victorious 2008 Ryder Cup squad.

But he could never re-conjure the magic of 2003 in a Major.

Since turning his back on professional golf Curtis has gone down an unusual route for a former superstar – by coaching a high school team.

Curtis and wife Candace have two children together – with the former Open winner eventually roped in to coaching his son.


GettyCurtis won three further PGA Tour events after his major success[/caption]

Speaking to the New York Times, he revealed: “My son was on the team, and the coach decided to retire.

“I got a call from the athletic director and I was like, ‘Well, who do you have in mind?’ And they were like, ‘You, and that’s it.’

“I asked them to take a couple of days and try to find someone. I didn’t want to put that pressure on my son, but he was like, ‘coach, Dad, coach.’”

Since his 2017 retirement, Curtis has also been running an academy in his native state.

On when he decided 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, it was great.

“Then they went to school and their schedule is limited, and you’re travelling and playing in these tournaments, and you’re alone.


“I never played a huge amount, but when you’re used to having them out for about 20, 22 events a year and suddenly it’s only for six or seven, and now you’re out there for 20, 22 events on your own, it becomes tough.

“It doesn’t matter how nice the resort is. Every hotel room, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Ritz-Carlton or a Courtyard Marriott, it’s a rectangle room with a bathroom in it. And it’s tough on the family at home, too, because they want me home.”

Until he turns 60, Curtis is eligible to enter The Open each year as a former champion – but has not yet been tempted back.

On if he could ever be persuaded to give it another go, he told The Guardian: “All my friends keep hounding me about that. I’d probably need a new caddie for every shot because of the number of offers I have had.

“For now, there is no plan but things can change because, five years before I stopped playing golf, I would have said you were crazy if you told me I wouldn’t compete any more.

“If I’m going to go, it wouldn’t be for two days and to wave to the five people who follow me. If I’m going back, I need to feel I have a chance to be competitive and make the cut.

“I also don’t want to take a spot away from somebody who is trying to earn a living. If I do it, I need to feel ready to compete.”

On whether he’ll be watching goings on at Royal Liverpool from afar, he told the NYT: “It’s funny: It’s been seven years since I played, but I wake up now and realise it’s almost over.

“You totally forget. You get up and start doing your stuff, and it’s 2 o’clock and you think you’ll see what the golf is — and then it’s over.

“The first three years were like that, and I totally missed it. Now, I’ll watch it, and I enjoy it.”

GettyCurtis called it a day in 2017 and now coaches a high school team[/caption]

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