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September 17, 2006

Ben Curtis


TODD BUDNICK: All right, we welcome the winner of the 2006 84 Lumber Classic Ben Curtis. Congratulations, Ben, another nice victory here for you today.

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, it was great. It was nice to finish on Sunday. Last time I won I finished on a Tuesday morning. But it was great to pull off a win like that. I played extremely well all week.

TODD BUDNICK: It was a neck and neck race for most of the day. It looked like 16 was kind of a pivotal hole there. Charles drove the green in two and you had a long putt.

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I got a little lucky there. I kind of just planned for par not really playing for par; it would have been nice to make birdie, but I hit a bad wedge shot in there and hit a great putt. I was concentrating on getting good speed and I was lucky it went in because you figure Charles is going to make at least 4 at the worst. It looked like he was going to make 3.

You knew it was going to be tough coming in. Just when you think you get a little breather, he comes up, so it was kind of a reality check to get refocused and try to pull it off.

Q. On No. 14 you thought long and hard about that chip. What club did you end up using and what was in the thought process?

BEN CURTIS: Well, because the ball was in a divot and it was up over a slope and probably 60 or 70 feet from the hole, and it was just a very difficult shot. You know, I had three different clubs. First of all, I could have taken the sand wedge and flopped it on the green and let it roll down to the hole, and then I had 8 iron to bump and run it, and I ended up hitting rescue club. It's one of the shots we've been hitting the last few years, especially in a divot.

I was trying to get it up over the hill, and if it went over the green, no big deal, but it's one of those things you've dot to deal with what you've got, and I hit a great chip and was able to make the putt.

Q. Was there a point in the round when you felt like you were in control, and if so when?

BEN CURTIS: I felt like I was in control of my emotions all day. I just didn't putt well on the front nine, had a couple three putts. I made nice par saves on 10 and 11, and that kind of got me going, gave me confidence. I felt really comfortable all day. My swing all week has been pretty good. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and never put myself in too much danger.

Q. You had said once you got the Booz Allen win that kind of took that monkey off your back. Does this one what does this do? Is this like further vindication, or how do you look at it?

BEN CURTIS: I mean, I compete out here to win. That's what you want to do. Obviously you want to play well, and this doesn't necessarily mean victories, but if you play well it's a good feeling, but you want to win. That's what you come out here to do.

My goal after the British was to win one every year, and I got off to a slow start, not really worrying about that, just trying to play my game and trying to get myself in position where a day like today you can go out there and compete for the championship, and that's what you want to do. That's why we play this game. I mean, it's a lot of fun to be in that position.

Q. Does this one mean you've run out of monkeys?

BEN CURTIS: I've got no more left. I'm just going to try to go and just start next year and just try to continue with this momentum and keep playing well and hopefully get myself in this position. I feel good about my golf swing and where that's at. Obviously I still need to improve on the putting. This week was a good week for putting, but overall I still need to work on getting more consistent with that, so I'm just going to work hard on doing it.

Q. I believe your two victories have been your only two top tens of the year. What have you done these two weeks specifically with your game that you haven't been able to do the rest of the year?

BEN CURTIS: Putting, just making long putts, making those 20 , 30 footers when you least expect it, like the putt on 16 just went in. That's what it takes to win. You get a little bit lucky, as well. There's a lot of things involved. But it boils down to putting out here, and if you're hitting the ball decent and you putt really good, you have a chance to win.

Q. Can you talk about the 12th hole? You took the lead for good. That kind of set the tone for the last six holes.

BEN CURTIS: Well, that's a tough par 3, and I was actually trying to hit it a little bit long and kind of to the left, kind of where Hunter hit it back there. I pushed it a little bit but it ended up being the right distance. That kind of got the confidence going. I made the putt there. That was a tricky putt. It broke a few inches and it was pretty fast, so that made me feel a little more comfortable with the putter.

Q. How do you think you look in black and gold?

BEN CURTIS: I look good in it.

Q. Any chance you'll stick with what was the impact of those fans out there?

BEN CURTIS: I mean, they were great. They were a lot of fun. They're very passionate about their team obviously, just like the Cleveland Browns fans are. You guys have had a good string of a few years and we haven't had so many good years. It's just a lot of fun to have the home team behind you.

Q. When will you play again?

BEN CURTIS: TOUR Championship if I can get in. I mean, that's the only commitment I'll make now.

Q. I guess expecting your first child it's just as well you didn't make the Ryder Cup team?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I think we would have had to deal with it if something would have happened. It'll be nice to be home for the next few weeks at least and see what will happen.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through the round. Bogey on No. 2.

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I hit a 6 iron there about 30 feet past the pin and three putted that. The greens are a little bit quicker than the putting green which shocked me a little bit, and I three putted there.

4, I just hit it off the green. I was pin high, probably about 12 feet or so, made a nice putt from the rough.

5, hit a nice little wedge in there to about three or four feet.

9, hit it to the right of the green in two and chipped it over there and kind of just chipped it a little too far past, ten feet or so, missed that.

10, I struggled with the speed of the greens up to that point, especially on the long ones. I was about 35 feet or so, and I left it about four feet short. I was having trouble reading the greens, and I read that one right, and that kind of got the confidence going.

11, hit it over the green on my third shot and hit a great chip to about four feet or so and made that.

Then 12, I hit a nice smooth 8 iron in there and only had 12 feet or so and just that was probably one of the best putts all day.

15, I hit a bad drive not real bad. The bunker wasn't a bad place to be, and I hit an 8 iron in there to 15 feet, made that.

16, I don't know how long that was, 50 feet or so. I mean, it was a long one. I was just trying to two putt that one.

Then 17, I hit it to the right. I wasn't going to mess with the left anywhere, too much water over there, and just three putted from I was probably 45 feet or so from the hole but missed like a four footer.

Q. What did you hit off the tee there?

BEN CURTIS: 7 iron.

Q. I might have missed this, but at No. 11, would you go through that? You were off the back in two; is that correct?

BEN CURTIS: No, it was down in the fairway, it was about 90 yards to the hole and I hit it over the green.

Q. And you were in a collection area?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, down in that collection area.

Q. How far from the pin were you down there?

BEN CURTIS: Probably 45 feet maybe, 40 feet.

Q. Was it a putter coming back?

BEN CURTIS: No, I used a sand wedge, a lob wedge.

Q. And you had a little drain in front of you?

BEN CURTIS: No, that was on 14. But this one I had a good lie on 11 and was able to get the sand wedge on it, hit a good little spin shot.

Q. The scores today were poorer for the most part. What do you attribute that to?

BEN CURTIS: Well, the greens were a little bit faster, a couple good pins out there. The weather, a little bit of wind, so I think those three factors made the difference. It was a grind out there, and not being able to pick the ball up in the fairway, I think that probably a few shots where you had some mud on the ball and made you think a little bit more rather than just firing right at it.

Q. Did you have a lot of mud?

BEN CURTIS: A few holes. 5 and 6 were probably the two worst, and then a little bit on 9, as well. Other than that it was fine.

Q. When you observe the truly great players, Tiger, Phil, Ernie, whoever, where do you think you need to improve if you're ever going to get to that level on a consistent basis?

BEN CURTIS: Putting. I just need to become a more consistent putter. I wish I could putt like this every week, even though I missed some short putts today and even yesterday. I just need to be a more consistent putter with the speed, get rid of the three putts. You like to never three putt because it's probably one of the hardest things to take as a player is a three putt. You get in the position you need, and if you misjudge the speed or the break it's tough to take, but that's one area I'd like to improve on, putting.

I'd obviously like to hit it a little bit longer, but if you can continue to hit the fairways out here, you're okay as long as you putt well.

Q. When did your wife make the decision to come?

BEN CURTIS: She must have done it today. I called her this morning and she was still home at noon or 11:45. She was still at home.

Q. Did she jet here?

BEN CURTIS: No, she drove over. It's just a couple hours' drive.

Q. She drove herself?

BEN CURTIS: No, her mom and dad were with her.

Q. You talked about the putting being so important. Can you explain how things turn around like that? Can you explain how you kind of get on that roll?

BEN CURTIS: Confidence is one. Two is maybe fundamentals. You figure something out that's in your stroke that you need to work on. For instance, for me it was just getting a little bit further away from the ball. I was just getting a little bit too close, so I just stood a little bit further away and then started making a few putts, and then the confidence comes, and then once you get that, that's where you feel comfortable on the green, once you get that confidence going. That's the biggest thing.

Q. Everybody is pretty sad about this event leaving, and now I'm sure it falls on your shoulders because you're the winner of this event and you can't defend it again. What are your thoughts on that?

BEN CURTIS: Well, it's a great event. There's a lot of great things for me why we love it. It's a couple hours from home, a good golf course, they treat us like kings here. We don't get treated this good on Tour all year, and the Hardies, they put on great shows and events for us throughout the week. It is tough. It's going to be a tough one to take.

Now that I won, it makes it even more tough for me. As a player you always like to see how you can handle defending the title, and I had the opportunity once a few years back, and it's a tough thing to deal with but it's a lot of fun, as well. It's good to have all the eyes on you for one week or a couple days out of that week. It's always a fun place to be, and that's a shame that we can't come back.

TODD BUDNICK: Well, congratulations, Ben.

BEN CURTIS: Appreciate it, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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