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Calm Jon Curran in the hunt in Houston

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Jon Curran may be the lesser-known member of the Hopkinton (Mass.) High team duo making a name in professional golf, but the Tour player has a six-stroke edge on 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley after three rounds at the Houston Open.

Better yet, Bradley’s Florida roommate enters Sunday’s finale at 6-under, nine shots back of 54-hole leader Matt Kuchar, and with an outside shot of making his way into next week’s Masters. The winner of this week’s final warmup for Augusta earns a trip down Magnolia Lane, though a more realistic aim for the 27-year-old Massachusetts native is the chance to start another PGA Tour game if he finishes in the top 10.

Not long ago, such pressure would have had Curran flipping out. Thanks to the efforts of Boston-based sports psychologist Greg Cartin, however, Curran will take the field for the final round with his emotions in check.

“The 2011 Jon would have been like, ‘What kind of money am I going to make here?’” Curran told Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner after firing a 3-under 69 on Saturday at the Golf Club of Houston. “Now, I don’t really care about much on the golf course. I’ve really lost a lot of that. I think it’s really freed me up to be able to play my game and develop naturally.”

Curran, who finished T24 in the PGA Tour’s 2013 Puerto Rico Open, has one win -- a wire-to-wire W three weeks ago at the Brasil Champions -- in five minor league starts this year. He ranks second on his tour in scoring average, is third in earnings, and has a good chance at playing his way into full-time playing privileges in The Show, the spoils that go to the top 25 on the money list at year’s end.

“It’s definitely taken a lot of pressure off,” Curran, the recipient of a sponsor’s exemption in Houston, told Lavner. “I feel comfortable out here and feel good.”


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