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June 30, 2005

Ben Curtis


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ben Curtis, thank you for joining us this afternoon. Great round for you today, 64, and you're currently the leader at 7 under par. Start with some opening comments. Great day for you.

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, it was. I drove the ball really well, hit a lot of good iron shots and made a few putts. I made it very simple on myself, didn't get in any trouble off the tee with the thick rough and everything, so I just played very solid in that aspect and just made it very easy on myself.

Q. During that birdie eagle period there, birdie, eagle, par, birdie, that kind of made the round there? It was a good round before that, but

BEN CURTIS: Exactly. Made a good up and down on 13 from just off the green in the thick rough and made like a six footer for par there. Then hit a 6 or 7 iron on 14, I can't remember, and hit it about 20 feet by the hole, made a good putt there. Then just hit two good shots onto 15, the par 5, and it was only 12, 13 feet, and made that for eagle.

And then a key up and down on 16 kind of kept the round going, as well. I chunked my second shot, left it just short of the green and hit it eight, ten feet past the hole and made that for par. Just all in all, it was a good putting day. It was just everything clicked together today.

Q. Can you talk about the state of your game, and did you see this coming today? Could you feel this coming?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I could, to be honest with you. I was at home last week and I played a few rounds, played a couple good rounds, kind of got some confidence going, I think, before. It just kind of made me do two or three things right and had a couple parts of my game that weren't very good. I couldn't put anything together and shot some bad numbers and then my confidence went down. Playing last week at home for three or four days helped because I made some good numbers and shot some good scores.

Q. Harrison Frazar was just in here a couple seconds ago talking about how he's in a slump and trying to work out of it. Are you in the same situation, and is it tougher for you because your reputation from The British precedes you?

BEN CURTIS: I try not to think it's rougher on me than anybody else. I am in a slump, haven't played well all year. I had a couple decent tournaments, and it's just a long year and I just try to stay positive and try to work out through the problems and keep my head up high because, you know, all you need is a couple good weeks, decent weeks to get your game going and get your confidence up, and you never know what can happen.

Q. Did it feel good coming back here?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I feel very comfortable here. Last year I played well I shot a big number in the second round, but in the three times that I've been here now, I think I've shot under par almost every round but one. I just feel very good here. It's just a solid golf course that you don't have to be real long to play; you've just got to keep it in the fairway.

Q. Is this the best single round you've had since winning The British, and can you give us a few more details as to what really you were struggling with throughout the year so far?

BEN CURTIS: I had a couple good rounds since the Open, but, I mean, I've had a few 65s and a few 64s. You know, basically this year has just been up and down. It just seems like one week I'd hit the ball poorly and then the next week I'd putt poorly, so it's been everything, to be honest with you. I've just been working really hard on the short game and driving the golf ball because I think you've got to get the ball in play; that's where it starts. If you're not hitting the ball in the fairways out here, and I always had a tendency to miss by a few yards, so if I could keep it in the fairway then I'd just make it easier on myself.

Q. You talked outside a little bit, the British Open is coming up and that kind of puts the focus back on you. How difficult or how has that been trying to live up to the expectation that people kind of have of you after winning that British Open?

BEN CURTIS: It hasn't been too bad to be honest with you because, you know, it's still kind of under the radar a little bit. You know, I've had a few decent tournaments, but it hasn't affected me. I think more than anything the stuff that you have to deal with after you win, all the requirements that you need to do, I think I just basically got tired, and this year there's been no excuses. It's like my rookie year again.

It's just been a struggle with the game. I mean, there's no other way to explain it. I don't want to say it was this and that, because it wasn't. It was all just a part of how I was playing.

Q. Back to your round today, the par save at 13 and 16 you mentioned, but just how big were those for the momentum for keeping the back nine going?

BEN CURTIS: Well, especially on 13, I hit a decent drive down there and pulled a 4 iron left of the green. I didn't hit a bad shot, and then I knew I just needed to make a key par putt because every good round, you always make one or two key par putts because most of the day my par putts were tap ins if I didn't make birdie. It's just one of those great feelings you have that just keeps the momentum going. It's just indescribable because you feel like everybody that plays a great round, you look back at their round, they made some key par putts. It may not be three or four, it may only be one or two, but it keeps the round going.

Q. Confidence is such a fragile thing in this game, and you talked about trying to stay positive when you're not playing the way you know you can play. How do you really try not to let negative thoughts creep in?

BEN CURTIS: It's a hard thing to do, to be honest with you. I don't know how to say it. Michael Campbell has been through it, as well. I think you've just got to keep working hard. I mean, you go home, you've got to keep working at it, don't just take a few weeks off and think you're going to come back out and be better than you were before because in the end it's not going to work, you're just going to continually get worse. But if you keep working on it, eventually we have enough talent that we feel like we can compete and win. You've just got to keep working hard. There's no other way to describe it. There's a few times where you go out and you play bad and you get things going the wrong way, but when you get off the golf course try to forget about it and move on and start a new day.

Q. When you win a major like you did, people say this will be the thing that sort of catapults his career and gets him rolling. Did you think that when you won The British, and in retrospect is there anything you would do differently?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, definitely. I think in a few years' time, if I would be lucky enough to win another major or a few more tournaments, then those would be the ones that could turn my career around. It was just my rookie year, so it was kind of more I mean, I deserved to win it, but it was kind of a shock to myself that I won it.

I was just trying to keep my Tour card. I only made a couple hundred thousand dollars up until that time. I'm just trying to keep my Tour card. I wasn't really thinking about winning a golf tournament until Sunday, and I knew there were still parts of my game that I needed to improve. So I knew there was going to be setbacks, but hopefully in a couple more years' time I'll have a few more wins.

Q. What was it like playing with John Daly in the group today, and describe what the gallery was like. He seems to be a fan favorite; do the fans still remember that you're the guy that won that British Open? Do you sense that at all?

BEN CURTIS: I think so. John is a fun guy to play with. He plays quick. You know, if you blink an eye, he might have already hit the shot. He's just one of those he's very courteous, and he just goes out there and just plays golf. He doesn't worry about anything, just plays golf and has a good time. Those are the best guys to play with because no matter how good or bad he's playing, you wouldn't know the difference.

Q. You talked about not believing maybe until Sunday at the British that you could win. How do you feel now shooting a 64 first round? How is that mindset compared to back then?

BEN CURTIS: Well, it's nothing like after I won, that's for sure. You know, I'm still a long ways away from playing really good golf. It's coming, but I'd like to put four good rounds together instead of one or two, and that's the key thing right now is no expectations for this weekend, just go out there, try to play good golf and see what can happen. Obviously I know I can win, I think I can win, but there are still parts of my game that I still need to improve on and still get more consistent in that aspect, and hopefully play well this weekend, so when I go into The British I'll have a lot of confidence.

Q. Any time during the past year did you and Todd Hamilton happen to compare notes about what it was like to win the Open? Did you guys ever sit down and have a conversation?

BEN CURTIS: I mean, we've talked about it but not I mean, I think when people struggle you try not to like for myself, I'm sure Todd doesn't want to try to give too much advice and all that stuff. He's still playing good golf. I mean, he's had some good finishes since.

Golf is a funny game because it's not just because you win doesn't mean you should win every week, and if I could take one victory per year for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy man. That's just the way it is. There's so many good players out here, you've just got to take advantage of your time, if you can.

I respect Todd a lot; he's a great player and he will be for a long time. It's just when you win a major like that, I think expectations get a lot higher on people.

Q. When you were gaining confidence at home last week, was there any one moment or was it more just looking back on your week and knowing that you had gotten your game together?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I played like three days in a row and each day it just got better and better. I made a lot more birdies and less bogeys and hit a lot more greens. Everything started to fall into place, like today, just playing really solid golf and played some good courses with good greens, so it was just one of those each day got better and better, and that's kind of just how golf is. Each day that you play well, you get a little bit more confidence and you get more and more, and that's the way it was.

Q. What do you know about the old course at St. Andrews? Have you played there at all? And what kind of plans, are you taking a whole entourage over? What are your plans for the week?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I've been there a few times. I know my family is coming over. It's not a big crowd. Candace and I are staying at a different place than they are, so we'll kind of be on our own and be able to have our own time and be able to relax a little bit more that way. I'm looking forward to it. It's a great golf course, it's going to be a lot of fun. Hopefully the weather won't be too windy. The changes that they made are good, but it's just going to make the course even a little bit tougher.

Q. How often have you played?

BEN CURTIS: I've played it probably five times. Not like an over amount of times, but enough where I think I can get myself around the golf course.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could touch on the rest of your round. You had birdie on the 1st hole.

BEN CURTIS: I hit a 9 iron in there to about an inch. So it was almost a real good start.

No. 4, hit a 7 iron in there to about ten feet, just left of the hole, straight down the hill, made that.

Par 3, 12th, hit a 6 iron to about three feet.

14, hit a 6 iron in there to 20 feet.

15, hit 3 wood in there from 240 to 12 feet.

17, 7 iron in there to 20 feet.

Q. How far in was the shot on 1?

BEN CURTIS: 140 yards.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ben Curtis, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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