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October 14, 2003

Ben Curtis


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ben, welcome. You did quite well last time you were here, just your thoughts on being back in the U.K..

BEN CURTIS: Well, it feels really good to be back. Ever since I won the Open, I've looked forward to coming back over here. I went over to Paris last month, but to be back in England is a great thrill and I'm looking forward to this great championship and hopefully having a good week.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You've had a busy time since the Open, fitting in a wedding, how has it all been for you?

BEN CURTIS: It's been very busy and fun. A lot of things happened in my life, just getting married over a month ago, everything. It's started to settle down a little bit and just have some fun.

Q. When did you get here?

BEN CURTIS: Got here Saturday, Saturday morning and we went into London actually Saturday with the whole family and just been able to play a couple of days out here.

Q. When you say family, what part?

BEN CURTIS: My mom and dad and Candace's parents and brother. We just kind of went around the city. We just showed my parents and her parents like Big Ben and the London Tower and the bridge. We went on a little boat tour. It was beautiful weather. We were able to get outside and we went to Buckingham Palace and the Queen's Park and just did a little walking and just enjoying the sites.

Q. Were you recognized?

BEN CURTIS: No, I wasn't. It was nice, we were in a big group of people, stick out.

Q. What has been the most interesting thing to happen to you?

BEN CURTIS: I just think, you know, the opportunities to travel and play worldwide now, not just in America. To be able to come over here and play in this event and being exempt for five years on the American tour and the majors, I think that has a lot to do -- that was a big perk for me. Before going into the Open, I was exempt for six more months or whatever.

Q. What was your main objective at that time?

BEN CURTIS: Well, my main objective was to get the card back, to maintain a PGA TOUR card, and just improve and try to improve my game all around.

Q. You say you look forward to travelling, which is in contrast to some of your compatriots?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think just personally, it depends on who you are. I think some people do what's best for them. If they feel like they can get better just playing the American tour and have success there. I think personally, I like to travel. I don't mind it. I think it's something that I could look forward to doing some day.

Right now, I'm just going to focus on the what I'm scheduled to play and go from there. It's just personal preferences. Some people don't mind the travel and getting on a plane for 15 hours and playing for four days, and turn around and fly 15 hours back to where they came from and play the next week. I think everybody is different individually and that just depends on how it should be.

Q. What do you think of the course?

BEN CURTIS: The course is very nice. It's a great event, a great course for match-play. There's a lot of chances for birdies, and obviously there's holes out there where you can get into some trouble. I'm really looking forward to it. Someone who makes a lot of greens and makes a lot of putts is going to win a lot of matches and the best player that day is going to win. It's not going to be a fluke. Whoever plays the best is going to win.

Q. Have you had any success in match play in your career?

BEN CURTIS: I went to the semis of the U.S. Amateur in 1999. I played in the Western Amateur, which is a stroke-play and match-play event, so I had some success. Anybody can win in match-play. It doesn't matter who makes more birdies and who has a hot hand that day. But this course of more of a true test. It's not that you're going to win with pars and bogeys; you've to make birdies. I think whoever is playing the best is going to win.

Q. Were you disappointed you weren¹t recognised?

BEN CURTIS: No, not really. I'm just a humble guy. I don't really pay attention to all of that. If I get recognized a lot, it doesn't bother me; and if I do it, doesn't bother me. I just kind of go about my business. I wasn't really thinking about it. The whole family was just together and we were having a good time. We were on the subway for about six hours out of the seven hours we were in town. (Laughter.) Other than that, we had some fun.

Q. It will be different when they announce you on the tee?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, well, obviously, playing here for the first time since the Open, it's going to be a mean a lot to be announced as the Open Champion. I think the fans will come out and show their support this week. Everybody I've talked to this week has been great, the fans, the last couple of days since I've been out here. Everybody is glad to see me back out here and I'm looking forward to it.

Q. What did you know of the event before you qualified to play here?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I know a lot of great players have won the event. I didn't really know much about it before the Open, but seeing Palmer, Nicklaus, Faldo and Els recently over here, I know it's a great event. It's kind of an elite field. It's kind of a chosen few, like the Grand Slam of Golf. There's four players there and there's 12 here. It's kind of like you're an elite field.

It rewards you for good play in the majors, and I think it's a great event and something I hope to have an opportunity to play in the future.

Q. How does the year look from your perspective?

BEN CURTIS: Obviously, it's a big confidence booster. Going into this playing the practice round, I was just worried if the money would count towards the American tour Money List because I was just trying to keep my card. I had made 200,000 at that point and my game was steadily getting better and I just wanted to go in there and have a good week and make the cut and try to do something on the weekend. Obviously, it's something that changed my life forever. I knew I could do it. I just didn't think it would happen this quick.

Q. Why did it work for you that week and not others?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think obviously it helps that you didn't have to shoot 15-, 20-under par to win, knowing that you kept it around par and try to play solid golf and not do anything stupid of the just play within yourself; and knowing when you have to punch out and take your bogeys when you get them and take advantage of the holes where you can make some birdies.

Q. Were you shocked you won?

BEN CURTIS: A little bit but not really. I knew when I turned pro that I could have a realistic chance to win majors. I thought I would have better chances there than like the Las Vegas Invitational where you have to shoot 30-under par, it seems like. Just knowing that my game is -- basically survival, make a lot of pars. If I play good, I'm going to shoot some low numbers, but for the most part I'm going to keep it around par and go from there. I'm trying to improve on that.

I think it wasn't too much of a shock for me, just knowing that going into Saturday and Sunday, I knew I could win. I think that I had that confidence in my game that week. It's one of those times where everybody has it a couple of times a year where they have the confidence that they think they are going to win every time they go out.

Q. Do tougher golf courses suit you then?

BEN CURTIS: I think so. You look at the PGA, obviously I didn't play very well there. But going in there, I felt like if I hit the ball solid that I had a realistic chance to win. It's a tough golf course and you know that 10-under par is not going to win. You know it's going to be right around even par. I think even par was third or fourth in that event.

It just shows that golf is a funny game and that you can play a course two weeks earlier and the scores would have been ten shots lower.

So I think -- I know that I can play in tough conditions and I've proven it in the past and hopefully in the future I will, too.

Q. Do you expect to play in more international events next year?

BEN CURTIS: I'm sure I will, but obviously at the end of the year, I'll sit back and go over the schedule and see what fits best for me. If it calls for it, I will, and if not, then I'll stay home.

Q. Where did you put the Claret Jug?

BEN CURTIS: It's at home. No, it's on the fireplace mantle, sitting right there. It's a great spot. I can see it every night when I watch TV.

Q. Do you have any photographs framed at home?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, you know I got one Baxter painting of Royal St. George's. Also a picture with the trophy after we won.

We going to plan it this week. We got in a day later than we expected. We are going to go one day this week, maybe Thursday.

Q. Are you going to play?

BEN CURTIS: I don't know if we're going to play. Everybody wants to at least go there and it depends on the weather. Obviously if it's 20 degrees or 50 degrees and blowing 40 miles an hour, we probably won't play, but we would at least like to go out there and see it again.

I don't play until Friday. I know the whole family is going into London again today while I'm out here, so we'll see.

Q. Have you done anything special with your winnings?

BEN CURTIS: I bought Candace and me a car, a Mercedes, but other than that, I haven't had time, really to sit back. I know we've spent a lot of money on the house, getting everything we want for the house. But other than that, that's all I need. Save it.

Q. Because you've won a major so early in your career, are the expectations higher?

BEN CURTIS: Obviously, the first event in America, everybody is screaming to "win this one" or "go two for two". Obviously expectations are higher, but I'm not going to worry about that. Just go out and try to play golf the best that I can and not really worry about that. I know there's going to be weeks where you're not going to play good and there's going to be weeks where you're going to be in the hunt and just try to do the best that you can every week.

Q. What did you hear from Tiger after you won?

BEN CURTIS: Obviously he said great playing and he said that I showed the heart of a champion just sticking in there and playing with those guys. He was joking around with me. He goes, "How did you handle it with us behind you"? Because obviously Vijay and him and Davis Love are all right there, so I knew that I had the best players in the world chasing me.

To be honest with you, I was shaking in my boots, but I was just trying to stay calm and enjoy it. He's been great to me. It's been fun.

Q. What's your schedule for the rest of the year?

BEN CURTIS: I'll play Tampa in two weeks, the Chrysler Championship, and then hopefully THE TOUR Championship and then Japan, and then Hawaii, Grand Slam and Target Challenge.

Q. Did you debate not playing here?

BEN CURTIS: No. I would go play here no matter what. It's an honor to be here and I think someone in my situation, there may not be many more opportunities to play in this event, so at least come here and enjoy it and have fun. It's a great event and it's an honor to be here.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Hope the week goes well for you, Ben. Thanks very much.

End of FastScripts.

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