Curtis strives to make new name for himself

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The Independent Online

If it is true that nobody is perfect then it can also be said that the PGA Championship is perfect for nobodies.

That might seem unfair, especially when it is considered that even to play on Tour you need the combined touch of God and David Copperfield. But put yourself in the sponsor's shoes of Europe's supposed "flagship event" and see who you have heard of at the top the leaderboard after yesterday's first round.

Lawrie, McDowell, Lima, Ormsby, O'Hern, Fraser, Oldcorn, Fowler, Hedblom, Curtis, Olander? Graeme McDowell, undoubtedly, if you have kept even half an eye on the US Tour this year where the young Ulsterman has made such a name.

Andrew Oldcorn maybe, but only because the adopted Scotsman won this event a few years ago and triggered the "who?" run of winners that has read Anders Hansen, Ignacio Garrido and Scott Drummond since 2001. (And before you get excited about "Lawrie", that's Peter not Paul, not that on the 1999 Open champion's present form you'd particularly wish to rob either to pay the other.) But look again because there is someone you should recognise in that group of eight on four under, one behind Portugal's Jose Filipe Lima, and the Irish pair, Lawrie and McDowell after 68s.

The name is Ben Curtis, he won some tournament called The Open Championship 22 months ago. Although the cynics were suggesting that as the "King of Nobodies" he should indeed take pride of place on this anonymous scoreboard, his return to form - on his 28th birthday, no less - was welcomed in more quarters than simply the BMW tent.

"Yeah, this year has been a struggle - please don't look at my stats," he pleaded, unsurprisingly seeing as he made just two cuts out of 11 events thus far. "But I've seen a bit of an upturn in my game recently. Being Open champion probably does make you believe that there are some things you must accomplish. But I'm not trying to set any goals now. At Sandwich, wherever I hit the ball I was just happy to be there. That's where I've got to get back to."

With an eagle on the par-five last here, he made strides yesterday where Ernie Els lost out to par with a 73 on the West Course that backs on to his garden. "Room for improvement," said Els. Not the time to be quoting BMW's motto to the South African - "Sheer Driving Pleasure".

BMW OPEN (Wentworth) Leading early first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 67 P Lawrie, G McDowell. 68 W Ormsby (Aus), N O'Hern (Aus), M Fraser (Aus), A Oldcorn, P Fowler (Aus), P Hedblom (Swe), M Olander (Swe), B Curtis (US). 69 R Coles, P Hanson (Swe), A Forsyth, B Kennedy (Aus), P Lonard (Aus). 70 L Slattery, S Dyson, M Angel Jimenez (Sp), N Faldo, A Cabrera (Arg), H Stenson (Swe), A Coltart, P Senior (Aus), S Hansen (Den), P Broadhurst, R Jacquelin (Fr), P Harrington, D Howell, R Goosen (SA).

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