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Ben Curtis struggled with his putter late in his opening round. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

Ride on bogey train brings Curtis back into pack

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Ben Curtis was one of a few players to get beyond the 2-under-par clubhouse lead Thursday before he slipped back to a 73. If he can get his putter working, he thinks he'll be fine.

By Dave Shedloski, PGATOUR.COM Senior Correspondent

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Ben Curtis is no stranger to moving up a leaderboard at a major championship. The trick is sustaining it, especially at a venue as challenging as Oakland Hills Country Club.

Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion, was among a handful of players who managed to move beyond the 2 under par posted by clubhouse leaders Robert Karlsson and Jeev Milkha Singh during the first round of the 90th PGA Championship but ended up retreating as Oakland Hills eventually reared its "monster" head.

Three under par through 10 holes, Curtis struggled with his putter coming home, and he eventually carded a 3-over-par 73, a good round on a tough course, but disappointing considering where he'd been.

"Ten holes with no bogeys is pretty good, but you know you're going to make one somewhere. This course just doesn't let up," said Curtis, 31, winner of three PGA TOUR titles. "I played OK. Got a little lucky early. Got a bit unlucky later on. It certainly is hard to sustain any momentum out there."

Curtis tied for seventh last month at the British Open at Royal Birkdale, and that was despite 10 3-putt greens. He had five three-putts at the RBC Canadian Open, and the troubles continued at Oakland Hills, which has some of the trickiest putting surfaces in the game.

Of course, Curtis had no trouble early when he hit a 9-iron to 1 foot on the 10th hole, his first of the day, and then he needed two putts for birdie on the par-5 12th hole. A 30-footer at No. 1 got him a brief share of the lead with Retief Goosen. Goosen, who got to 4 under par, eventually fell back, too.

For Curtis, he missed a few fairways coming home and he mixed in three-putts at Nos. 3, 5 and 6. He ended up with 31 putts on the round.

"He got on the bogey train and he couldn't get off the blasted thing," said Andy Sutton, Curtis' caddie.

"I've just been struggling with the pace, and it's been going on for a while," said Curtis, who putted for 20 minutes on the practice green following his round. "I hit some quality shots today, but this course really punishes you when you miss, and the greens are really tough on top of that, so you have to play really well all the way around.

"Obviously, I didn't do that," he added. "The good news is I'm not in bad shape. Something around par tomorrow (Friday), and I will be fine."

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