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Despite wearing Detroit Lions gear, Ben Curtis was successful on Friday. (Shamus/Getty Images)

Curtis battles back into contention

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After a difficult end to his first round, Ben Curtis posted the round of the morning on Friday -- and bolstered his chances for a second career major.

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Since Ben Curtis is wearing Detroit Lions logoed shirts and caps this week, a local reporter just had to ask Curtis if he was drawing inspiration from that out here at Oakland Hills.

Cue incredulous look. You know. Eyes-wide-open look due to mock shock. Facial expressions feigned to match.

"From the Lions?" Curtis said grinning and shaking his head.

Umm. No.

But he has seen a new Brett Favre Jets jersey in his gallery. And he's heard there's no way he can win this 90th PGA Championship because he's wearing Lions colors and, well, that's not exactly lucky.

Curtis laughed.

Majors may be a little bit about luck, but they're mostly about patience. And Curtis has a ton of that.

He won the Open Championship at St. George's in 2003 by hanging in there and simply playing the course. It was his first win, period. Curtis was a 1,000-to-1 shot that week; a guy who was ranked 396th in the world and the only thing most people knew about him was his name.

Five years later, he's a three-time winner and a not-so-surprising face on an Open championship leaderboard. And now a player on the big board at Oakland Hills.

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Curtis shot a 67 -- the low round of the morning which was subsequently tied by Justin Rose - to put himself in position going into the weekend here at The Monster. It was a pleasant turnaround from Thursday's opening round where he left the course disgusted after a 3-under-through 11 holes crumbled into a 3-over 73.

"It was it was a lot of fun today compared to yesterday and the last eight holes where I really struggled with putting," Curtis said. "But today I had the speed down a little bit better."

Try a lot better. Plus, he hit 13 greens and got it up and down three times on the way to the locker room - 17 and 18 from about 6 feet each.

"(Thursday) I didn't leave myself too terribly difficult first putts, but enough where I've been struggling with the speed that I just hit it a couple feet too hard and it just catches a little ridge and runs six feet by par; and today, where I just made those," Curtis said.

Sounds simple. But it's really not. And sometimes, even when you think you've got, you don't. Like Thursday's 6-over-par slide.

"I lost my head a little bit ...
it was all mental," he said. "It wasn't necessarily how I played.
It was, you know, tee-to-green, I was fine. It was just all those three-putts.

" ...
I have high expectations for myself. I hate three-putting, that's the worst feeling in the world."

Thursday, he shook it off by getting back in time to chase 23-month-old Liam around a bit and see 7-month-old daughter Addison before she nodded off.

"They were only up for about a half an hour, but it gets your mind off golf," he said.

Sleep doesn't hurt, either.

"You wake up and every day's different," Curtis said. "You see guys that are playing really good and they wake up the next morning and it's all of a sudden another ballgame.

"You could have the best three months of your life and you're still playing well and you wake up and something just doesn't feel right. That's the way golf is."

At St. George's Sunday night, everything felt like a blur. Curtis parred the 72nd hole in '03, then had to wait as Thomas Bjorn imploded and Tiger Woods, Davis Love III and Vijay Singh tried to catch him. They didn't.

Since then, he's also had a tie for eighth
at the Open (2007 at Carnousite) and a tie for seventh (two weeks ago at Birkdale). And now he's gearing his game toward the majors.

He's straight off the tee and major fairways are usually firm and fast so he can get enough roll to keep up and have 120 to the hole on a 500-yard hole.

"I don't know what it is," he said. "I think I just try to get my game ready for these majors and obviously I like to see, if you miss a fairway by a couple of yards that you can at least advance it to the green. But I just like tough conditions.

"If you did a stat over the last five years, who made the most pars, I probably have one of the top 10 averages on TOUR, but my birdie average is roughly, you know, it's towards the end of the pack."

What matters this week is his patience and that 67, which left him one shot behind J.B. Holmes on Friday afternoon.

He hung in there in week-long gales at Birkdale -
he started out 5-over-par for the tournament and finished in a tie for seventh -
and in the gusty winds here Friday morning.

The forecast was for the wind to gust up. He laughed. It was gusting 20 mph today," he said.

All if which reminded him of Saturday at Birkdale when he shot 70 in gusts approaching 50 miles an hour.

"When I finished, they were saying they're thinking about suspending play," he said. I told them 'No, you're not. I just played out there and you can play.'"

Another major? It's a possibility, but not a necessity.

"I think I've proven that I can play out here," Curtis said. "To me that's all that matters. Because if you sit here and think about winning another major, I'll be thinking about it for the rest of my life. I mean, just, you know, I don't have to do that. I don't have to prove it to anybody but myself.

"I know I can win another one. It's just a matter of taking care of the opportunities that I'm given, and if I get ... there's weeks that you can play your best and not win and there's weeks where you can kind of just stumble your way in and win. So I mean, you just can't think about it; if I don't win another major, is my career not fulfilled, because it is."

Now, about those Lions colors ...

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