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April 16, 2004

Ben Curtis


p> LAURY LIVSEY: We'd like to thank Ben Curtis for joining us here in the media center. You're currently our second round leader after a 66 that goes with the 68 you shot yesterday. You had a hole out from the fairway, that makes two tournaments in a row. Start with talking about that and a few opening comments.

BEN CURTIS: First of all, I played very well today. I think I didn't hit very many good drives, but other than that I played very well. I hit good iron shots and had key ups and downs, and holed some good shots. It was a sand wedge from 110 yards on number one. I got a lucky bounce, hit on the front fringe and kicked to the right and bounced right in the hole. It was a lucky break, but overall I'm very happy.

Q. How important is it to take advantage I imagine the weather conditions, scoring conditions were better this morning than what you faced in the afternoon, was it important to take advantage of that?

BEN CURTIS: Exactly, yeah. There's not much wind out there. There's a little bit, but not a whole lot. So I think guys are going to go out there this afternoon and play well and shoot some good numbers. I wouldn't be surprised if someone else shoots 8 or 9 under for the tournament. There's some easy pins out there, and I think the course is firming up, so it's playing even shorter. The greens are still pretty receptive.

Q. You said yesterday that you were in no rush to do well and win another major. Have you come close to that feeling you had last year at the British of playing that way, getting on a roll since then?

BEN CURTIS: Well, when I went over to Japan last year, I finished second there. I played pretty solid and it felt good to get in contention again. I was very comfortable in that position. And actually, sometimes it's surprising, because in the past you get there and you'd be a little nervous. But the last few years I get there and I feel more and more comfortable. But I think that just comes with experience and the more times you get to do that. So for the most part that's the only week I had a good chance of winning. So it felt good there. And hopefully this weekend I'll have a chance.

Q. All four days, everything clicking?

BEN CURTIS: I opened up strong, shot 65 the first day. I played well all four days. The conditions got tougher as the week went on. I ended up losing by four or five.

Q. This week you've had two good days, is this starting to feel like it could be a winning week?

BEN CURTIS: It could be. I'm not going to make any predictions. I feel good about the game. I need to hit some better drives this weekend. I won't get as lucky today as I did with some of the those drives. If I can get that going and just continue with the short game, I'll be fine.

Q. What were some of the bad drives or maybe less than stellar drives you hit today and what did you end up getting out of them?

BEN CURTIS: Well, the biggest one was No. 3. I hit it way right. And I had to punch out just short of the green and I chipped in from probably 50 yards from the pin. That was one of them.

15 I hit a bad one, it kind of kicked back towards the fairway. And I ended up missing from the green and chipping in there. It was one of those days.

Q. You holed out three times?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah. (Laughter.) Three zero putts. I haven't had three zero putts in a month.

Q. You told us yesterday that when you get around the Tour a couple of years you'll be more where you want to be. Is there something about this course that suits you? You hadn't played here. Is there something that suits your game better than you thought it might?

BEN CURTIS: I think the small greens help. You know if you hit the green you're going to have a chance for birdie. Sometimes you're going to have long putts. But for the most part it just suits my eye well. You've got overhanging trees. You've got to work the ball. I like to do that. I don't like to stand up and hit it as hard as you can every time and try to hit a hard shot again to the green. For me it's more of finesse, just work the ball. This is one of those great courses that doesn't have to be 7,500 yards to be a good golf course.

Q. Are you playing here and in Europe?


Q. How many tournaments have you played over here and do you plan to play?

BEN CURTIS: I've only played two over there. I'm going to play the minimum, 11, at least. I'm going to go over there later this spring and play some. And it's been a good stretch over here for us. I like the Florida swing and staying here, and the Carolinas is a good spot for me. I'm going to do a bit more traveling starting soon.

Q. Is there a point where after the winning a major that you have to mentally say or you say I want to prove to everybody that's not a fluke and win again? Is there a point you say I have to put that on the shelf? How do you handle that?

BEN CURTIS: You've got to put that aside, that's done and over with. I know I'm the Open champion, but at the same time you have to look past it and look to the future, not always rely on the past. I want to prove that it was no fluke. I'm going to go out there and keep playing and working hard. I think that's the only thing you can do. I've been struggling with the putter for a year and a half. And that's unlike me. Usually you might have a spell of a couple of months you don't play good, but then you find it. It seems like it's coming around a little bit, each week it got better and better. And hopefully things will turn around.

Q. How many putts did you end up with today?

BEN CURTIS: Couldn't tell you.

Q. You chipped in three times and you say the greens are small. You've been struggling with the putter, and the putter numbers are pretty poor this year. Do you think this course is masking your putting problems or it's coming around a little bit?

BEN CURTIS: I think it's more fundamental than anything. I made a couple of adjustments. It seems to work a lot better. I'm going to continue to do that, just stay fundamentally sound. And usually that's the best part of me, even with the golf swing, just very fundamentally sound and that's what how I do so well. But obviously everybody who's fundamentally sound is not going to play well, but that's where it all starts, it starts from the beginning.

Q. To follow up on the question regarding your schedule. I know obviously your debut here, first time around for a couple of courses this year. How do you determine where you're going to play and what events you might pass over?

BEN CURTIS: I think you look at location. The timing of the tournament has a lot to do with it, and you look at the course. I think if it fits good in your schedule you're going to play. A lot of these places I'm seeing for the first time. I'm going by hearsay, what someone says about this course. But I basically made my schedule out before the year for this Tour, and I'm just going to stick with it and not try to overdo it. I haven't been playing badly. Earlier this week I was saying I'll play next week, but you don't do it, you stick with your schedule and go with it, you don't prove it that way, instead of playing too much.

Q. What were you hearing about this course?

BEN CURTIS: Well, they all say it's a ball striker golf course and you're going to have a lot of chances for birdie if you hit the ball straight. It's one of those courses you're not going to have a 3 or 4 iron on every hole, you're going to have some wedges, and you have to take advantage of it, and the greens are small. It's one of the classic old style golf courses, that's what makes it so good.

Q. This is one of those days where there are a bunch of low scores, the weather is (inaudible.)

BEN CURTIS: I know it's going to firm up quite a bit, just that little breeze, it's warming up a little bit, so it's going to get hard and fast this weekend. I think the greens are going to get hard and fast. It's going to play tougher, I believe, on the weekend. But you're going to have to go out and shoot three or four under, because somebody is going to catch fire and make a lot of putts. You can be off the green and only be ten feet from the hole and you're looking, okay, I can make this. Some weeks you're trying to get it close, but some guys are thinking of making it. There are going to be some low numbers, I'm going to have to keep playing well.

LAURY LIVSEY: Let's go over your card.

BEN CURTIS: I birdied 15. I chipped in from just off the green, probably 25 feet from the hole.

Hit a sand wedge on number 1, made it from there.

Q. How far was that?

BEN CURTIS: About 110 yards.

No. 2, got up and down from the front bunker for birdie.

And 3, holed out from about 50 yards.

Q. What kind of shot was that on 3?

BEN CURTIS: It was just a little pitching wedge, about 50 yards, just a bump and run. It was just perfect, looked good the whole way, and got lucky, hit the pin and went in.

Q. How far was that putt on 2, where you got up and down?

BEN CURTIS: Probably eight feet.

Q. Have you become more of a grinding type player where you go to the range and work on stuff or are you still a feel player?

BEN CURTIS: It depends on how you're doing. If you're playing well and hitting the ball really well, you spend less and less time. I think you go there, 20, 30 minutes, just keep the rhythm and keep it going. And I think I've been working more a lot more on the chipping and putting, I think that's where I've been lagging. So I've just been working hard on that and not worrying about the golf swing if you're putting well and chipping good, the rest of the game finds its way coming in. It's been the opposite. I've been hitting good and just putting poorly.

Q. The lead could change, obviously, but if it holds up, would this be the first time you've held the lead since the British Open on the PGA TOUR?

BEN CURTIS: No, the second time.

Q. What was the other?

BEN CURTIS: NEC, after the first day.

Q. What's your schedule for July?

BEN CURTIS: The Open, that's all I know. I haven't made any final plans, but there's some good tournaments right around there, especially in Europe at that time that I'm looking into and could possibly play. But for now it's just the Open and the Western Open. Those two are for sure, and then everything else, depending on how I play and how I feel.

Q. Is there anything you're doing or trying to do to be more consistent? I think the British was your only top 10. Is there anything you're working on?

BEN CURTIS: I think it just comes back to putting. There's weeks where I putt decently, and there's weeks where it's just awful. If I can get that more consistent, where if I'm putting bad it's decent, it's not horrible, that's where I'm trying to get, where if I'm putting great, it's really good. I'm working hard on that, because I think I just know if I keep working hard I know some day it's going to come together, and hopefully this is the start of it.

Q. As good as you guys are, how do you get so off on your fundamentals of anything, like your putt, how do you explain that?

BEN CURTIS: It's just bad habits. For me maybe I was well, let's try this, I hadn't been putting good, let's try this, and then you overexaggerate. For me it was getting my elbow up, I just overdid it. And then you just develop bad habits. And that's the thing, you just need to get fundamentally sound. If, especially putting, you're off by half a centimeter, it makes a huge difference, especially out here, because these guys putt so good, that's what you've got to do to compete. You can maybe get away with it on some Tours, but you can't out here.

End of FastScripts.

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