Curtis faces hectic dash between tee and altar

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The Independent Online

Ben Curtis, the Open champion, has a chance this weekend to prove himself more than a one-major wonder after a strong start in the NEC Invitational here on Thursday, but could find his powers of concentration stretched to see his challenge through.

Curtis, who led jointly with Sergio Garcia after hitting a first-round 64, with Tiger Woods and Darren Clarke one stroke behind, is getting married today, but exactly when it will be is anybody's guess. The ceremony is a 30-minute drive from the course and is set for 5pm, but he may not tee off until around 2pm, which could mean an evening service and a reception that does not start until after dark.

"Let's just say, if he's in contention I want to see how tired he is on Sunday morning," Woods said. Garcia added: "I tell you what, if he's doing well Saturday night is going to be a big night. Because a wedding, what do you do? Do you get drunk or don't you? A lot of decisions are going to be made that night."

The wedding date was set before Curtis' Open win, when he was ranked 396th in the world so not in line for an invitation to this event. But he and his fiancée, Candace, decided to fit the arrangements around the tournament.

"This will be the best week of my life no matter what I shoot," Curtis said. "Good or bad I didn't care, I was just going to have fun." The Open winner, who took just 23 putts on Thursday when he recorded a score only one off his lifetime best, added: "The hole just seemed like it got bigger and bigger as the round went on."

Padraig Harrington, who was three over after the first round, admitted he had considered pulling out as his wife, Caroline, is due to give birth to their first child at any time. But he thought it would be rude to walk out of the event just because he had not started well.