Golfer follows father’s footsteps at Colonial

05/19/2014 9:46 PM

05/19/2014 10:08 PM

For the first time at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Jeff Curl will compete just like his father did over the span of four decades.

Rod Curl won the 1974 Colonial and played the event 31 times between 1973 and 2007. Jeff, a player, is in this year’s Colonial on a sponsor’s exemption.

“It’s kind of a dream come true for me. It’s awesome,” Jeff said after Monday’s Hogan Pro-Am. “I’ve been wanting to play in this since I was 5 years old, basically.”

Curl, 35, was born four years after Rod Curl won Colonial. Jeff is in his ninth year on the tour.

“Obviously I’ve had about a million people since I started playing golf ask me about the Colonial,” Jeff said. “My dad’s legacy is this tournament, so it’s been a big part of my life.”

Rod Curl is also entered in this year’s tournament, and the two plan to play a practice round Tuesday. Jeff said his dad followed him for a few holes Monday.

“Whether he’s walking around or playing it’ll be fun to have him around and kind of give me some local knowledge,” Jeff said. “He’s been around here a few times.”

Jeff has made four cuts in seven events on the Tour this year, with a tie for 14th as his best finish. Before Monday, Curl’s first round at Colonial was a week before last year’s event, with club member and Tour player Franklin Corpening.

“The course is good, in really good shape. I like it, it suits my game well,” Curl said. “If I play the way I should play I’ll be fine. This is the kind of course I can thrive on.”

Just like Dad.

Campbell a regular

It hasn’t been that long since Chad Campbell was among the PGA Tour regulars and in consistent contention for major championships.

He finished second in the 2003 PGA Championship; tied for third at the 2006 Masters; lost the 2009 Masters in a playoff; and had a fifth-place finish at the 2011 British Open.

Campbell is in a different situation now. The Colleyville resident, who grew up in Andrews, is simply trying to earn his fully exempt status back on the PGA Tour.

Campbell finished 136th in the standings last season, dropping into the conditional status category. He received an exemption into this year’s Colonial.

“If you ever think you’ve got golf figured out, that’s when you’re done,” said Campbell, who turns 40 at the end of the month.

“So keep working hard with it. I haven’t really put everything together. I don’t feel like I’m too far off, but golf is a crazy game.”

Campbell’s best Colonial finish is second in 2004 when he tied the course record with a 9-under 61 in the third round.

He’s played the weekend only once in the past six years, tying for 41st in 2012.

Campbell plays the course occasionally and is coming off a respectable finish (tied for 48th) at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, and is hoping that bodes well for him this week.

“I’ve worked hard at pretty much every aspect of my game and don’t feel like I’m that far off,” he said. “I definitely feel comfortable here, so hopefully that’ll help me.”

Helping out

Dallas resident and former Mansfield High star Martin Flores participated in the pro-am despite not being in the field for the PGA Tour event due to a family commitment.

“I told them I’d support the tournament, help out,” said Flores, who played Colonial in 2010 and the past two years. “Colonial is one of my favorite tournaments, so I’m here to help.”

Flores said he hasn’t played a Monday pro-am since his 2010 rookie year. Wednesday pro-ams tend to draw the more noteworthy field. Monday’s low-key day also gave him a chance to try out new shafts on his 5-, 7-, and 9-irons.

“They’re tighter,” Flores said. “This is a good opportunity. I’d practice a lot with any new equipment before using it in a tournament.”

Foundation winners

Fort Worth high school seniors Jacey Patton and Anthony Harper II have been awarded scholarships to Texas Wesleyan University, with the school and Ben Hogan Foundation each contributing 50 percent of the cost for four years.

Candidates are chosen by The First Tee of Fort Worth and reviewed by the university and foundation.

Golf legend Ben Hogan won Colonial a record five times from 1946 to 1959, and his bronze statue graces the main clubhouse entrance.

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