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February 25, 2004

Ben Curtis


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Ben, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center. Good match today. You were up, and then Charles battled back, but you continued to hold your position and hit a great shot there on 18 to seal the match 1-up.

BEN CURTIS: Exactly. I played fairly well, hit the ball pretty solidly, for the most part. I struggled off the tee a little bit. I've been struggling with the putter and I actually worked hard on it this week and made some good putts early on that got me some momentum. Luckily, I was able to put the pressure on him instead of myself.

Q. What kind of adjustments have you made with your putting? That's a big part of what you're trying to do?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I just needed to relax a little bit, I think, more than anything. You know, when you start missing them, you start getting tense and then you start pressuring yourself to make it. Instead, I just went out there and freed myself up. Freddie Jacobson helped me yesterday. He said just stroke it, don't worry about it. That's what I tried to do, was just straight down the line.

Q. No fundamental changes?

BEN CURTIS: No, my fundamentals were pretty solid. I just needed to make sure -- I just wasn't stroking it properly. I just needed to let it loose.

Q. What was it like having Tony on the bag?

BEN CURTIS: Well, it was good. He's had a lot of experience here. He's been here with Norman quite a bit. He's a lot of fun out there. And basically, we were just talking about normal stuff and we just went about our business and just tried to hit better shots than he did.

Q. How much attention were you getting when you came to the golf course? Do the fans know you and say, "There's the British Open champion"? How exactly are you treated?

BEN CURTIS: Well, exactly. A lot of places you go, it may take them a second to realize, but they do recognize me. It's quite nice. I mean, it's not as bad as it was before. I mean, after I won, every step I took, it didn't matter where it was, on the golf course or off. Now it's a lot better. The fans, they've been great to me the whole eight months.

Q. Who travels with you?

BEN CURTIS: Just my wife right now.

Q. She travels with you to every event?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, every event.

Q. Does that help keep you grounded or what?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, definitely. It would be hard just to be by myself out here. It gets pretty lonely some weeks. Weeks like this are a lot of fun. Freddie Jacobson, we've seen him for the first time, and he's one of our good friends on Tour, so we have a great time. It's good to see him again. And when she's here, if it's just her and I, we still have fun.

Q. I know you like to travel, see spots. Have you done anything this year in any of the tournaments you've been? Last week in LA or coming here?

BEN CURTIS: Well, we were in Bangkok and we got to see a little bit of that. It was a tough week because it was an hour drive to and from the golf course with traffic, but we did see some of the temples and palaces there. We had a few evenings when we were out and about. It's a lot of fun. We're looking forward to going back to Europe again. There are some places we're probably going to go where we haven't been, so it's going to be exciting.

Q. What's on your agenda?

BEN CURTIS: Right now I'm not real sure. Late in the spring we're going to go over again. Hopefully around The Open we'll work some things out.

Q. What's your hookup with the NFL? I noticed that you had an NFL logo there.

BEN CURTIS: It's a deal with Reebok that I have that I just started last month. What I'll do is, I'll be wearing the local teams. So everywhere -- next week it'll be the Dolphins and this week it's the Chargers. So each week it'll be different, so it's quite fun.

Q. I would think your style, that you can do well in this format, make putts, stay in holes. What did you feel coming into this, that this might be something that suits you?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I was a little nervous about my putting, but I started stroking the ball a little bit better yesterday, and just that little bit of confidence it gives is huge.

For the most part, if you stay within a couple of your opponent then you have a chance. You don't have to worry about everybody else, you just have to worry about one person, hopefully hit better quality shots and come out on top. I like match play for that reason, because you don't have to -- you can shoot 66 and lose and you can shoot 70 and win by four or five, or you can shoot 74 and win. It's a funny format, but it's a good format. Like we were talking about before, it's good for your -- if you win a couple matches, it gets your confidence going.

Q. You haven't had a lot of great results since The Open Championship. Did your confidence start to go down a little bit or did you keep plugging along?

BEN CURTIS: Well, it's funny because I was playing bad and then like I finished second in Japan, and then now I'm starting to play and I can tell that I'm starting to play a little bit better. I've hit the ball good all year long. It's just a matter of getting it to the hole. Once I feel that then I can get some tournaments under my belt. That's what I want to do, is keep getting better and get in contention.

Q. Is your swing better than it was at the British Open, because I've been watching you for a few days and it looks like everything is pretty solid.

BEN CURTIS: I think so. I've been working on a few things, trying to shorten it up a little bit. If I get a little long then I have a tendency to come over the top or hit it weak to the hit. I've been trying to get it more compact and more solid. I've been hitting the ball really well, especially with the irons, all year long.

Q. What's your miss, right or left?

BEN CURTIS: Well, right now it's left, but that's fine because before it was right. Last year everything was a little flush to the right, but now it's actually turning over again and I think it's because I've shortened it up.

Q. You wanted to turn it over?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I want to work it. I want to do both, but it's easier to do it that way. You're a little more solid. Whereas before it was a little loose, and I was trying to hook it and I'd hit it dead straight. It's been a crazy 13, 14 months since I got my card. Now I've been working hard, especially on the swing, and now the short game got away from me so now I've got to start working on that again.

Q. What do you know about Troon? Anything?

BEN CURTIS: Postage stamp. I've never been there, so I'm hoping to go over there in the spring and get a look at the course before they get all the stands up and everything, but I know you go out one direction, in one direction, so I heard -- is it into the wind and then downwind? So it should be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it. It's obviously a great golf course and it should be a good time.

Q. There's a lot of places you're still playing for your first time. The first time here. You've gone overseas and played a lot of places for the first time. Do you feel because of that, that in your mind you're still a rookie?

BEN CURTIS: I don't know. A course like this is right in front of you, you've just got to score a golf ball. Some places you play, you've got to have some local knowledge, you have to have played it a few times.

Like Riviera last week, even though I didn't play that bad, the greens are -- everything kind of went a certain direction and you just didn't realize how much. You see something, it breaks a lot more than you think. I think you just learn through experience, and I think the more times you play the course, the better off you are.

Q. Earlier today we were talking to Stuart Appleby, and he was saying he makes his flight reservations from day-to-day here. How are you handling yours?

BEN CURTIS: My wife does most of it. I tell her what day I'd like to go and what day we'd like to get there, what day we need to get there, and she basically does it all. She calls IMG or the Tour Travel and gets it taken care of. It makes it easy on me so I don't have to worry about it. She's really good at it.

Q. So in other words, as long as you keep winning you'll keep moving your flight back?

BEN CURTIS: Well, we have it scheduled for Sunday night right now. Hopefully we can be leaving on Sunday night.

Q. You talked about learning and gaining experience. What did you learn from the experience last July?

BEN CURTIS: I learned a lot. I went from --

Q. What did you learn about yourself?

BEN CURTIS: I mean, I went from being a rookie to being in the thick with all these guys. It was tough at first, but what I learned is you've just got to be very patient. Even if you have three or four bad tournaments in a row, you can't say it's the end of the world because there are 40 other tournaments throughout the year that you can do well, especially early on.

I'm usually a late bloomer. May, June, July is when I start playing a lot better. That's just been the case my whole life. I just learned that you've got to -- especially in a major championship, you've got to be very patient and just play good, solid golf, and par is not a bad score.

Q. You're playing against Phil Mickelson tomorrow. Any thoughts on that?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I know he's playing really well right now. I think in every tournament he's played in he's been in the Top 10, so it's going to be tough. I know I'm going to have to make a lot more birdies tomorrow than I did today. I'm just going to have to go out there and make a lot of putts.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thanks, Ben, for joining us. Appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts.

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