Curtis named to 2008 American Ryder Cup team

Marcus Barkley

Former Kent State golfer to represent United States in biannual tournament against Europe

Former Kent State golfer Ben Curtis was named yesterday to the 2008 American Ryder Cup team. The Americans will play Team Europe from Sept. 16-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

Kent State Director of Golf Herb Page, who coached Curtis during his tenure on the team, spoke with pride about Curtis’ selection.

“I’m very proud of (Ben),” Page said. “Ben is a very modest, humble person – he was that way in college and continues to be that way.

“He shared with me a year and a half ago that (making the Ryder Cup team) was one of his goals. He kept it private and just kept working away and working away, and it’s just a great accomplishment for him.”

Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said he sees Curtis’ Ryder Cup selection as not only a great step for him, but for Kent State golf and the university as a whole.

“It’s unbelievable to have a student-athlete who performed at such a great level for Kent State University to be appointed to the highest team that is going to represent our country in a sport,” Kennedy said. “It’s a great testament to our program, our coaches, our athletes and what they’ve accomplished.”

Curtis, who is only in his fifth full season on the PGA Tour, already has a number of accomplishments. While still at Kent State, Curtis captured the 1999 and 2000 Ohio Amateur championships. Only two other players, including Arnold Palmer, have won the tournament two years in a row.

After graduating from Kent State in 2000, Curtis continued to climb the ranks in the PGA Tour before winning the 2003 British Open in what many in the golf world called a major upset.

Curtis has won a total of three tournaments in his young career and automatically qualified for the Ryder Cup team with his strong play this year, which included two top-10 finishes in major tournaments. The Ryder Cup selection helps to solidify Curtis as one of the top golfers in America.

Curtis and the rest of the American squad hope to change the tide of Ryder Cups past for the American team. Team USA has not won a Ryder Cup title since 1999 in Brookline, Mass., and has lost three in a row to the European team. The last matchup was in 2006 in Kildare, Ireland.

Page said he will be cheering for his former star pupil Curtis and the rest of Team USA when they face off with Europe’s best in Kentucky.

“In the PGA, it is a global game and America is no longer the golf powerhouse it once was,” Page said. “So I’m sure they will be going in as the underdog, but I know I’ll be rooting for them.”

Contact sports correspondent Marcus Barkley at [email protected].