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July 2, 2005

Ben Curtis


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ben Curtis, thank you for joining us, one of the 54 hole leaders along with Jim Furyk at 12 under par, and you are also co winner of this week's Crestor Charity Challenge. This week's $50,000 will be given to the Evans Scholars Foundation, which is the primary charity of the Cialis Western Open, and you will also receive $25,000 to give to a health care charity of your choice.

If you could, just maybe talk a little bit about charity on the PGA TOUR. I know it's a big thing and I know you're interested in it.

BEN CURTIS: Oh, definitely. I think the Evans Scholars, definitely one of the great things for young kids today. It gives them the chance to go to school and to become good young men, and I've met quite a few over the years, and fortunately for me, I've played in a lot of Western Amateurs and Juniors and now the Open, so I've gotten to meet a lot of the kids. It's just a good foundation for good young people.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: About the tournament, obviously you're in a great position to win tomorrow. Overall it's been a successful week. I'm sure you've really gotten your game on track this week. Talk about your thoughts going into tomorrow.

BEN CURTIS: Well, I'm just going to try to do like I did the last three days, just go out there and just try to hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and give myself a lot of chances to make birdie, and that's what I've done over the three days. I think yesterday I struggled a little bit but hung in there and finished well. So I'm just looking forward to a fun day tomorrow.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Your thoughts on playing with Jim. Obviously a world class player.

BEN CURTIS: Definitely. I've played with him quite a bit over the last couple of years, so I've gotten to know his game very well. It's very solid and there's no weaknesses, so I look for him to shoot a good round, so that means for me to win I'm going to have to shoot a good round.

Q. Going into tomorrow what do you draw from 2003 at Royal St. George's? Do you draw from that experience?

BEN CURTIS: Definitely. I think this time around it's going to be a little bit different because there I was playing from behind, and this week playing in the lead it's a little bit different. Just hopefully I'll draw on it and keep the confidence up and just know that I can win. I look forward to just trying to grind it out and doing the best I can and not worry about the outcome until it happens.

Q. This has been a big tournament for you so far. What's kind of turned things for you? Is there one thing that you point to why it's all falling together?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I've worked really hard over the last several months, and I think I haven't played as well as I've liked, and I just never put everything together. You come here knowing that you've had success here before, I think, and this is my third year now, and I think I've had one bad round in three years, last year on Friday and missed the cut. For the most part, I just feel very comfortable here. It's a great golf course, you don't have to be super long, you've just got to keep the ball in play and hit good iron shots.

Q. After Thursday you were saying you wanted to put several rounds together and not just have one. So far?

BEN CURTIS: So far three good rounds, hopefully can add a fourth one to it. We'll go out there and see what can happen. I'm not going to try to put any pressure on myself, just go out and have fun and enjoy the whole experience.

Q. The lowest point in your slump? I guess Hank Haney looked at your swing after Augusta? You're a guy who had a teacher. Have you had other people help you?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, my college coach Herb Page at Kent State, I've worked with him since I've basically been there.

I was just in a bad rut. I couldn't do anything I wanted with the golf ball. It didn't matter if it was with a wedge or a driver. It was one of those things that I needed a quick fix, and I've always been pretty consistent on playing, and for the last several months I wasn't. Just going to Hank and Herb both, just helping me out, it's just been a great help.

Q. Your round today, confidence builder? Some of the other players made a bit of a run and made a bogey and fell back, and you didn't make a bogey. Just talk about being confident all the way through your round.

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think I was just trying to make as many birdies as I could. I wasn't really worried about what would happen if I made a double or a bogey. I think I was just focusing on making a lot of birdies. Today you've got to make a lot of birdies. The course was set up fair, not much wind, so you just had to go out there and shoot a lot of make a lot of birdies, and that's what I tried to do. I didn't try to focus on anything else.

Q. Tiger and Vijay made big runs up the board today. I just wonder if you'll be looking on the scoreboard at them tomorrow more than perhaps some of the other guys?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think you're going to have to look a little bit just because for me personally I kind of want to know if I need to make a lot of birdies or if I can play a little more conservative. But I think tomorrow I'm just going to go out and play like the last three days, just play very aggressive, especially when you have the short irons in your hand, just go right at the pin. The greens are still somewhat soft enough where you can get a lot of wedge shots close. I'm not going to worry about it. Some guys are going to make a move tomorrow, but you can't worry about that.

Q. Do you have more Bears apparel to wear tomorrow?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah. No Packers, though.

Q. Smart.

Are you getting a response from people?

BEN CURTIS: Oh, yeah. Obviously Chicago is a big football town, big sports town, so everybody is going to say their comments. I've heard a few Colts fans, a few Packer fans, but for the most part everybody here is a Bears fan.

Q. You're from Ohio. What do you like?


Q. There were some guys yelling for the Browns today, too.

BEN CURTIS: I heard a few, but who knows.

Q. What's the main thing that has been different this week and felt different this week than earlier this year?

BEN CURTIS: I think the biggest thing, I put everything together. It's been a complete package, drove the ball well, good irons, good wedges and made some putts. A couple rounds at the Bob Hope was like that, but for the most part it's just everything came together, and I think that's been the biggest thing. I think there would be times where I'd drive the ball well and then putt bad or hit them bad and putt good. So it never came all together. This week it has.

Q. What comes first, the confidence or the ball striking?

BEN CURTIS: I think when I was at home last week, I just, instead of practice, just went out and played a lot. I tried to make as many birdies as I could. Each day I got better and better, made more birdies, shot lower scores, and that's kind of where the confidence came from. The confidence isn't as high as it is now, but it was coming.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go through your round, the second bogey free round of the week for you. Started off with a birdie on the first hole.

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I think I hit a 9 iron in there just on the back ridge, 20 feet, 25 feet past the hole, made that.

Next birdie on No. 7, hit a sand wedge in there to six feet.

11, sand wedge to eight feet.

14, par 3, 4 iron to 18 feet probably.

Birdie on the last, 9 iron to a couple feet.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: How important has that been for you? You've had two bogey free rounds. It looked like today you didn't have much trouble at all. It had to help your nerves, I'm sure.

BEN CURTIS: I had a tough up and down on 10. I hit a great bunker shot there. I had to hit it over one bunker and got very lucky, it rolled out of the rough and down to a couple feet.

Same thing on 12, long bunker shot, a little bit easier than the one on 10. A couple of those keep you going and keep the confidence going. That's the way it's been this week. Yesterday I didn't do that and had a little setback, and I was a couple over par. But I just hung in there and finished strong.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ben Curtis, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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