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January 27, 2004

Ben Curtis


GORDON SIMPSON: We have by British Open Champion Ben Curtis with us now. Ben, we just spoke to Thomas Bjorn about playing on both tours. You are obviously will go to try to do the same. Tell us why b your decision to join the European Tour as well as the PGA TOUR.

BEN CURTIS: Well, after the Open, it kind of came about when you went over to Europe a couple of times. I had a great time over there. The fans have been wonderful to me. It kind of came about that I could do what some of the greatest players in the world do, like Ernie Els and Thomas Bjorn. They play all over the world, not just within the United States.

I think that there's so many great tournaments out there other than on the American tour. Take nothing away from the American tour, it's the greatest tour in the world obviously. But I think there's other great events and this is a great tour, as well.

You know, from winning the Open, I think it kind of put things in perspective that traveling, Trying across the world, it's an honor, and to showcase that.

GORDON SIMPSON: Do you think it helped you at The Match Play to do what Ernie has done, Tiger has done, to play everywhere?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I think to play all kind of different conditions and you play all over the world, you see different players. There's so many good players around the world. I think there's so many good players here that over here in Europe, that are good enough to play our tour obviously. They choose to stay here, and for obvious reasons. It's a great course. You get great courses, you get to travel around the world. I think a lot of people like to do that.

Q. Inaudible?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think for now, I look at it as a one-year experiment just to see how things go. Hopefully it will be a full-time thing. But for now, with my wife and I being able to travel with no kids and everything like that, I think once that comes around, that has a big influence on what you do. And for now I'm just going to take it one year at a time and hopefully it will turn into a long-term deal. For now, I think just one year, just to test the waters, you should stay and just see how it goes.

Q. Can you believe the changes in your life, from just not a year ago?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, it's been very fast-faced since the Open. It's been about seven months now. Has not seemed that long. I'm just enjoying myself. It's something that I always dreamed of doing is playing, being one of the top players in the world. Now that I have the opportunity to do that, I just want to keep improving and try to play better. I think by playing all over the world, that's the only way that you can do it.

Q. What is the reaction from the other players?

BEN CURTIS: Well, everybody has been very supportive. I think they understand when you win the Open, what it means. I think it's not just, you know, as an American, you just didn't win the Open. You won the World Open. It's one of those events that's the most prestigious event in the world. A lot of players understand that and they know what it means. I think they understand why I'm doing this. Everybody has been very supportive.

Q. What have been the most surprising thing that's happened to you since you won?

BEN CURTIS: Well, there's been a lot of great things. I think that having this opportunity has probably been one of the biggest surprises. I talk about it with my wife and she was very supportive. She kind of pushed me even more because she enjoys the travel. She enjoys getting to see the world. And for me to be able to play in different parts of the world, that's what drives me. I think having her support and then having my agents behind me and supporting me, supporting the decision that I made.

Q. When you travel internationally, are you flying commercial or private jet?

BEN CURTIS: Commercial.

Q. You're not in Ernie's league yet?

BEN CURTIS: No. He's been around a long time. It's so expensive to do. I think that maybe in a few years that will happen, but for now, first class is fine with me.

Q. Is this something you thought about before you turned pro or before you won the British Open?

BEN CURTIS: I think just the experiences that I had growing up playing in the junior circuit and then the Amateur circuit and college level. I was successful at every level up until I was a pro.

I think I just took all of my past experiences and put it on the table, and especially during that week, just take advantage of the opportunities that you get. Not too many people get the opportunity to play this sport at the professional level. I tried to work hard and just focused hard on my game. I think a lot of times, it may only be one or two good weeks out of the year that make a good year, and that's what it was in my case and hopefully. Now I can improve and each year get better and better just like I have in the past.

GORDON SIMPSON: Do you want to develop more consistency in your play?

BEN CURTIS: I think so. The first year was tough out there on TOUR, especially the first four or five months. I didn't know when I was playing. I didn't know if I was playing the next week or anything like that. So there's a lot of pressure on me. I just went, I think one of the reasons why I did so well at the Open, I just played all out. I just went out there and I knew that I was playing the next week no matter what if I missed the cut or whatever. And I just let it all out. Playing in a major for the first time, you have to kind of go in there no fear, and that's what I did. I just went out there and tried to do the best I could.

Q. What are your impressions -- is there more pressure now that you are the Open Champion?

BEN CURTIS: Obviously you do. Every week you go out there they are expecting great things from you. It's getting easier each week that I play. I'm getting more used to that. I'm going to work hard on my game this spring and hopefully by the late spring, I get my game up there coming around where I can play in a very consistent level. There's some things I'm working on right now just with my own game that I think need improving. In the next few months, I hope to see more results.

Q. Inaudible?

BEN CURTIS: I've only played in Japan just once. I never played over here other than that, just the one week.

Q. Now that you've won the Open Championship, and you can play anywhere in the world --

BEN CURTIS: It's a great event. You look at the field it's a world-class event. You have the three tours combined playing here this week. I think it's a showcase of the top players from each tour. I think it shows why the Ernie Els and Thomas Bjorns are here. It's such a great event. They take great care of you personally. It's a great place to come. Asia, it's a wonderful place and I enjoy coming here.

Q. Ernie was just saying that he basically can't go anywhere in the world without being recognized. How has it been for you since you won the Open?

BEN CURTIS: Well, you know, about a back in the States, the first few weeks was very difficult. Everywhere I went, even dinner, the grocery store, gas stations, didn't matter where I went, somebody recognized me.

The last few months, it's been a lot better. I've been able to go to places, even back home, I've been able to go where I want and -- they may recognize me, but they were not as forward as they were before or they kind of look back. It's great. I can play anywhere in the world and go to a lot of great places. Obviously once you get to the event, you're going to be recognized. But outside of that, it's been very good.

Q. How many holes have you played of this course?

BEN CURTIS: I just played the front nine yesterday. I just got in Sunday night so I was a little tired. I got out here to see the course and get a feel for it.

Q. What player do you think will have the advantage?

BEN CURTIS: I think whoever is the best putter. I think that's what it boils down to most weeks. Here it's not a real long golf course. You're going to have some opportunities for birdie. So I think that whoever makes the most putts is going to win.

Q. (Inaudible.)

BEN CURTIS: Last week we just vacationed back in Hawaii. We stayed there for a week. We went whale watching. Just went to the beach a couple of times, played by the pool. We do a lot of reading and just hanging out with our family. I think that's what's most important to us and that's what we like to do.

Q. Super Bowl pick?

BEN CURTIS: I think the Patriots are going to win. I'm rooting for the underdogs but I think the Patriots have a better chance.

Q. You're obviously disappointed with your performance in Hawaii, was there any part of your game that caused that?

BEN CURTIS: I think my putting, just like here the greens are very grainy. That time that I took off really hurt with not practicing the putting, I think more than negative, and that's the part of the game I'm really working on.

I think there are several areas that I need to improve on with my game, and that's the No. 1 priority right now. I had some great weeks putting and then there was weeks it was just awful. I'm just going to go out there and try to improve on that. I think once I do that, then I'll be become a much better player.

Q. What is your European schedule?

BEN CURTIS: Well, looking for late springtime. Looking right around May and then right around the Open. Hopefully play in a few events right around there. And then hopefully again in the fall, as well. Going back over to Ireland for the World Golf Championships, if I'm still ranked high enough and maybe around there playing a few events as well.

Right now it's up in the air. Wait and see how things go through the Masters, see how I'm doing and go on from there.

GORDON SIMPSON: Ben, thanks for coming up today and have a great week.

End of FastScripts.

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