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June 4, 2004

Ben Curtis


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thanks, Ben, for joining us for a few minutes. Another steady round out there in some tough conditions as the day went on. No bogeys yet this week. Way to go.

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I got a few lucky breaks, but for the most part I played really well. I'm just really happy. I think any time you can walk off this golf course without giving any shots away, you're going to do well.

Q. Why are you more comfortable playing here? A lot of guys, the old Ohio State guys, always talk about how hard it was to play The Memorial because they had so many demands from friends, and I would think the demands on you would be rougher here than another Tour stop.

Why are you more relaxed here and playing better than someplace where you wouldn't have so many demands?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I just love the golf course. That has a lot to do with it. I feel very comfortable on this golf course. You've got wide fairways so I feel like I can be aggressive off the tee, and there's some key shots out there.

You know, I don't let the distractions bother me. I just let my family and Candace take care of that so I don't have to worry about it, so it makes it easier on myself. I know it's probably tougher for them than it is for me, but I just try to focus on playing golf and try not to worry about the surroundings, just try to treat it like I was playing last week.

Q. Last year at the Canadian Open, Mike Weir, of course, he won The Masters, and at one point he went to use the portable toilet and he came out and everybody applauded. It was actually quite funny. Have you ever had any instances like that around here, overzealous fans that get a little too --

BEN CURTIS: No, actually it's been good. They've all been supportive actually, but nothing where I've gone to the bathroom and come out to that (laughter). They've been good. They've been very supportive and clapping when they need to, and I think they understand that it's a tough golf course and it's a tough place to play.

Q. I wondered if you heard more "Go Browns" today than "Go Bengals" yesterday.

BEN CURTIS: It was about the same. Some people still think this is the Bengals.

Q. That new logo, they don't know it?

BEN CURTIS: Exactly, the brand new logo.

Q. What are your colors for the weekend?

BEN CURTIS: They'll be browns.

Q. Both days?


Q. Is that a reflection of your personal feelings?

BEN CURTIS: Well, they only sent one Bengals shirt so I got that one out of the way (laughter).

Q. Did you tell Reebok you need an orange hat with no letters on it whatsoever and then they'll recognize what it is?

BEN CURTIS: No, they've got some goofy hats out there. They sent pretty much the basic stuff.

Q. There have been some pretty good scores today, but overall right now, is 8-under the lead, 7-under?

BEN CURTIS: 7-under?

Q. We're used to seeing 11, 12, 13-under leading at this point. What is it so far this week that's making this play harder than past years? Because it's still pretty soft out there in the fairways it seems like.

BEN CURTIS: I think the greens are a lot faster than they were the last -- at least last year. I think they're faster than they were. I don't know the logical explanation. I remember last year there being a little bit of wind, but it was coming from a different direction. I remember 17 being downwind and now it's left to right or into the wind, so I think some of the easier holes are playing downwind and the harder holes are staying playing into the wind, so it's making it a little more difficult.

Q. Is no bogeys through 36 holes a reflection of how you're playing or have you had some hell /HRAEURBS saves out there?

BEN CURTIS: Well, 16, I hit a shot to the green that was pin high and I had less green to work with, and I hit it over the green and then chipped it in.

Q. Outside of that, though?

BEN CURTIS: Outside of that, not really. No. 3, I made like a 10 or 12-footer for par, and that was basically it. I think all the rest were within three, four feet, so I played really solid, hit the irons really well today, and I think -- other than 16, that was a reflection of what I shot.

Q. You mentioned a few lucky breaks. Was there anything else besides 16 you're referring to?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I hit a good drive on 18. You're trying to hit it just left of those trees, and I hit it right at the trees and then it just flew right in and kicked out to the left. It could have ended up in the bunker or even bounced further off to the left, but I think sometimes -- it's a tough hole anyway, and you've got to look at it that way, so I said, oh, we hit 3-wood instead of driver.

Q. I think twice this year you've had a good opening two rounds. What happened in those rounds that kind of went south a little bit, and how do you get over the hump at this point being in that situation again?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think MCI I wasn't playing that well going in -- all year going into that thing, and then all of a sudden I just made everything. I think there I chipped in three or four times on Thursday and Friday, so that had a lot to do with it. And on the weekend I kind of woke up and went back to the old way. I hit the ball fairly good on Saturday and got nothing out of it, and Sunday I hit the ball poorly and got everything out of it until the last few holes. I've shot some good scores since then. I think if I can keep it more consistent, like today just having no bogeys, I think the last two days is a reflection of how I've been playing.

Q. Is that why your scoring on essentially the last 11 holes on the golf course, you've had chances on the front, is there any particular explanation for that? Have you been in the wrong places on some of your birdie tries?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I think you go from the putting green boards, the greens are a little bit faster. The first few holes I was pretty much playing defense, just trying not to -- 12 feet on No. 2 and I'm trying not to hit it four or five feet by just because it's so quick, and K.J.'s putts were from above the hole. More than anything, I was just trying to get the speed down, and once I got that down, then worry about the line. But they're just so fast, and if you're off just by a little bit -- the only straight putt I had all day was on No. 18, so I just feel like every putt is going to break.

Q. Having Andy on the bag, has that contributed to you being relaxed or your comfort level out there?

BEN CURTIS: I think so. We have a good relationship. We joke around and tease each other all the time, so it's just one of those relationships. Any time he's on the bag it feels good because if you're playing bad he always tries to keep you looking positive, and I think that's all you can ask for in a caddie, is someone that knows the right time to joke around and knows when to keep you motivated.

Q. Do you know what your personal record is for holes without bogey or not? Anything you know?

BEN CURTIS: I have no idea. I know at the Highland Am I think I made three all week, something like that, so I don't know how many holes I went without a bogey.

Q. Is this characteristic of you when you're playing well?

BEN CURTIS: I think so. I think last year at the Open, I don't remember making a lot of bogeys, and I definitely didn't make any doubles, so I think that just reflects on how -- if I'm hitting the ball really good and I'm putting decent on top of it, I mean, I'm hitting it straight enough and feel like -- on 18, it was like, well, hit 20 feet right of the hole, and I just ignored him and went right at it (laughter). That's just how I feel over the irons right now, and I'm just very confident.

If I play that way, then I know I'm on top of my game.

Q. When was your last bogey?

BEN CURTIS: In tournament play?

Q. Yes.

BEN CURTIS: I know it was at Wentworth. Do you know?

Q. I was going to guess 15.

BEN CURTIS: On the PGA TOUR it had to have been Wachovia, 12 or 13 at Wachovia, I think. But I played last week, made bogey I think on No. 8, was the last bogey. I played the last ten holes 4 or 5-under.

Q. Justin kind of said the same thing about his irons, he was really confident with them. Do you think that the winner is going to be the person who stays on top of their irons or who feels the most comfortable with their irons this weekend?

BEN CURTIS: No. I think whoever is going to make the most putts. If I go out there and feel really comfortable over the weekend and not make anything, then I won't be holding the trophy up at the end of the week. I think whoever makes a lot of putts -- like I played with K.J. today, and he made a lot of putts, and if he keeps that up, he could be a guy that could be holding the trophy up at the end of the week.

Q. Does playing this week do anything for you, give you more confidence? Is it kind of building now?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I think each week it's building. There were some parts of the game I wasn't doing so well that have improved each week, and everything this week kind of so far has fit in, so who knows. I'm just going to go out there and just play aggressive and play smart and try to do the best I can and try and make as many birdies as I can and not make many bogeys.

Q. What's your happiness with your reading putts? I know that's been a struggle.

BEN CURTIS: I know I'm very happy with the speed this week. I think that's the key issue. There's so many putts where you can just get away from it easily, and there's a 10 to 12-foot range where I'm kind of struggling a little bit to get the right line on it. Once I do, I feel like I have the speed down so they'll go in. It's probably like a 7 out of 10 right now.

Q. Does your family have any kind of big get-together or anything to get that out of the way during the week so people aren't trying to talk to you on the course or when you're between green and tee?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I put the smack-down on that. It's just going to be me, Candace, and my parents and her parents and my brother, and that's about it. I mean, if we tell one family member, you'll have 20 or 30 people over, and it'll just get too much.

Q. Do you go out to dinner with anybody or are there cookouts or anything like that?

BEN CURTIS: I know we're going out to dinner with friends tomorrow, but tonight I think my dad is just going to grill some steaks and there will probably be like eight or nine of us, nothing special. I feel sometimes there's too many people, and when it gets that way it's all about golf, but if it's just our immediate family, it turns into not just golf, it's a lot of other things.

Q. When was the last time that you put together 36 holes like this from a ball-striking, putting, driving standpoint?

BEN CURTIS: I think at 84 Lumber and Japan, it was the first -- I think at the 84 Lumber I made three bogeys all week and finished 17th or 18th place. It was just one of those weeks where I hit the ball really well and just maybe missed a few putts here and there, but that was just a reflection on how I was playing. Japan was the same thing, I just played really solid the first three days and struggled a little bit on Sunday, but I feel like it's close to where those two weeks were, and I think -- I've been working on my swing a little bit and just trying to get it a little shorter, more compact.

And I think at the Open I could tell that with the irons I haven't really come over the top of them. I did a couple of drivers, but with the irons it's been right where I've been aiming.

Of course you've got to look back at the Open. That week I did everything great, I think, and it's similar to where it was then.

Q. Would you say, just to clarify, that where you are, no bogeys on this type of golf course, is this more similar to the Open or more similar to 84 Lumber and Japan?

BEN CURTIS: I think it's more 84 Lumber and Japan. I think the score is just totally different, so that has a lot to do with it. There I hit the ball so good and there were times I ended up 40 feet away and I thought I was right on. There were times I maybe mis-hit it and it ended up close to the hole. I feel like it's maybe more close to the other two. I hit it great there and hit a lot of fairways and greens. If you keep giving yourself chances, they'll sometimes go in.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Can we go through the birdies that you had, 9 and 15.

BEN CURTIS: 9, hit 3-wood, 9-iron to about a foot, tapped that in.

15, driver, 2-iron, pin high about 20 feet away, two-putted for birdie.

Q. What did you hit into 18?

BEN CURTIS: 5-iron.

Q. How long was the chip-in on 16?

BEN CURTIS: It was probably no more than 25 feet.

End of FastScripts.

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