Ben Curtis Surprising Leader at Valero Texas Open

Kevin CaseyContributor IApril 21, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 20: Ben Curtis plays a tee shot during the second round of the Valero Texas Open at the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio on April 20, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
Darren Carroll/Getty Images

A former major champion sits atop the leaderboard  of the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, but the proceedings are from expected.

Ben Curtis, winner of the 2003 Open Championship, hasn't found nearly the same success since, but after posting a second straight five-under 67 on a tough TPC San Antonio track, he finds himself in prime position to take home his first PGA Tour victory in six seasons.

The 34-year-old avoided the stiff winds and rainy conditions of the afternoon to sit at 10-under par through two days. Almost two dozen players still are yet to complete their second rounds due to a nearly two-hour thunderstorm delay, but almost halfway through the tournament, Curtis is in control.

The Columbus native is two strokes clear of David Mathis and three strokes ahead of Cameron Tringale and first-round leader Matt Every (who will finish the final two holes of his second round Saturday).

Curtis, a man who has barely been a blip on the radar in recent years and is now ranked 285th in the world, has seemingly come out of nowhere to find himself atop a PGA Tour leaderboard with 36 holes to go.

In 2011, the 34-year-old made just 10 cuts in 23 events and finished inside the top 25 on just three occasions. Curtis played so poorly last season that he only enjoys conditionally exempt status on the PGA Tour in 2012.

Matters could change a great deal this weekend, though.

A win on Sunday for Curtis would give him a two-year exemption on tour, meaning much greater control over his schedule and likely some newer and higher-paying sponsors.

Still, there are still two whole days to play and a Curtis victory is a long way off. He is a three-time winner on tour, yet with little chance to prove himself in the heat of contention in recent years, it's tough to expect him to hold up this weekend.

This has not been a straightforward PGA Tour season, however. Kyle Stanley lost a three-shot lead on the final hole at Torrey Pines and Spencer Levin blew a six-shot lead in the final round at Phoenix.

Can Ben Curtis pull off another surprise this season? Maybe, maybe not, but through two days, he has made things very interesting.