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August 19, 2003

Ben Curtis


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome British Open Champion, Ben Curtis, back to the home state of Ohio for the NEC Invitational this week. Ben, you've got a lot going on this week, but first and foremost you've got a golf tournament, you've got a wedding, playing in your home state in a big World Championship event. Start with some comments going into the week.

BEN CURTIS: It's good to be home, first of all. I'm really looking forward to playing this week. I really like the course. It sets up well for me and it's going to be a busy week, but it's going to be a lot of fun at the same time. I'm looking forward to Saturday and then everything after that.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk about the attention you received not only at the other tournaments since winning the Open but also in your home state. Obviously you're probably recognized here, having played at Kent and in high school, but also now being the Open champion.

BEN CURTIS: Well, I've had some calls and it's been a lot of fun. I've heard a story about they want to do Ben Curtis Day in the northeast Ohio area, I think I heard, but stuff like that that you never thought would happen, but it's been a lot of fun and everyone has been very supportive and they've been great.

Q. Ben, do you feel like it's kind of a home game for you here this week, and is that a positive or a negative?

BEN CURTIS: It's a positive. You know, it's good to be home, to sleep in your own bed. You don't get to do that too many times out here. To be able to do that and play on a course that you really like, I've been here before to watch the tournament and stuff like that, so to be on the inside of the ropes instead of the outside is pretty cool.

Q. Could we have the first plan for Saturday, and secondly, the contingency plan for Saturday?

BEN CURTIS: To show up at both on time. That's my only goal. It's going to be a nerve-wracking day. Hopefully I'll make both on time and have it be a great day.

Q. And the wedding is at 5:00 still?

BEN CURTIS: We're not sure yet. Depends what time I tee off. That will be the determining factor.

Q. How many hours after you tee off is the wedding scheduled for?

BEN CURTIS: It's 30 minutes to get there, so who knows? It will all depend. Hopefully everything will run smoothly with tee times. Hopefully I'm there on time, but if not, everything will be fine.

Q. Could you be holding up a stream of other weddings if you're late?


Q. The minister or whoever is marrying you, is he coming to watch the golf first or what's his view on the subject?

BEN CURTIS: Well, we sat down with him a couple times since I won, but he's been very supportive. As far as I know it's the only wedding of the day, so hopefully we won't be holding anybody else up, so that will be good, to know that whenever I get there we can go on.

Q. Is he a golfer?

BEN CURTIS: No, not that I know of. I don't think so.

Q. When did the invitations go out, Ben?

BEN CURTIS: A couple months ago. The 1st of July.

Q. What have you said on the guest list? Have you sent out an addendum to the invitation?

BEN CURTIS: No, we had a time on there and we just kind of -- ever since then we just made some phone calls and said it may be changed. Everybody has been very open and they're all supportive and they say just whenever you get there we'll start.

Q. Could it be before you play if you're really late?


Q. What's the final tee-off time?

BEN CURTIS: 3-ish.

Q. So you might be getting married about 9:00 o'clock at night?

BEN CURTIS: That's fine.

Q. What will the guests do?

BEN CURTIS: I'm not sure, to be honest with you. I hope they -- they're all -- most of it is family, her side and my side, and everybody has been very supportive, and even Candace has been great about this whole thing. She's even said whatever happens happens, and you can't really worry about -- you can't control everything.

Q. How many invitations went out, Ben, do you know?

BEN CURTIS: I'm not even sure.

Q. Ben, having gone to school here and having been raised here, can you talk about some of your fondest memories, about this in particular because you've probably been here to watch it before but now you're on the other side of the ropes?

BEN CURTIS: The first time I was here, it was the year Faldo won by five or ten shots when he shot 61, and that was amazing to sit there and watch him play this golf course without a wood. He's a magician and he gets it down without even using a wood.

Back in those days, that was in the early '90s, I believe, so that was something -- this was a pretty good performance. Just to be here, to play in front of family and friends, that's a lot of fun.

Q. Are you treating this like any other tournament or would it be extra special to play well in front of your hometown fans?

BEN CURTIS: It's always extra special because the crowds will be a little bit louder and more energetic. It's going to be fun. I'm going to go out there and have some fun and really enjoy myself. Good or bad, it's going to be a great week and I'm going to have fun and not worry about it.

Q. Have you had a chance to walk the course? And if so, does it look like it will play to your strengths?

BEN CURTIS: Yes, the course is in good shape. I just got done playing today. The fairways are firmer than when I played here a month ago and the greens are quicker, but it's going to be a good test and you've just got to keep the ball in the fairway.

Q. How hard has it been to concentrate on golf with all that's happened since your Open championship, and what's the biggest obstacle for you right now?

BEN CURTIS: It's been tough, but I've been able to practice a little bit. Last week I didn't play as well as I'd like, but I had fun when I was out there. I've just kind of -- it comes with the territory. You win a big tournament and you're going to get the attention. Golf is going to be put aside for a little bit, but I go out there whenever I can and I just try to do the best I can and not worry about anything else, just have fun. With the wedding plans and everything, that's been tough, too.

Q. I think it was after you missed the cut last week that you said that you weren't as prepared as you would have liked to be, and I'm wondering if everybody said this was coming, and I'm wondering how your daily routine has been impacted and how it's affected your ability to practice and prepare.

BEN CURTIS: Well, you know, when I'm at home it's not too bad, but when I'm on the road there's been a lot of times where they want me in a lot of places at one time so I try to stay focused. I know you've got to do that stuff, and it's been a lot of fun, too. I've had fun doing it. I wouldn't change it for the world. I sometimes wish I had had more time where I could go out to the course to be able to spend a few extra hours where I can feel like I got my game ready. Last week I just wasn't hitting it very well. That was a big issue for me and one of the reasons why I didn't play well.

Q. Could you please detail since you won the Open how your life has changed from endorsements to appearances on and on?

BEN CURTIS: I think the biggest thing is just the attention I've gotten nationwide, Letterman, the president, CNN, and to go to New York and do all that stuff, where you never think of that happening, and it did. It's been a lot of fun and I'm just enjoying it. Other than endorsements and all that stuff, I'm letting my agents take care of that and they're doing a good job. We're pretty much not trying to change too much, just go out there and play golf.

Q. You're working pretty hard with Herb today to fix a swing. It looked like you got it straightened out at the end. Is that harder than you've worked on practice recently?

BEN CURTIS: Last week I got a good practice in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before the PGA, but I had a flaw in my swing that I couldn't get rid of, and Herb knows my swing very well, we go way back, and it took one simple thing and now it seems to be turning the other direction.

Q. Can you explain it?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I was just coming over the top basically. I was just fighting it and trying to work on -- when I get to the top take it down the slot. We just had to work on a couple things to do that and I think we got it squared away.

Q. Is it true you would like to play in Australia later this year?

BEN CURTIS: We'll see. I really would love to go there. I've always wanted to go over there, but right now I'm not really sure. I just know I'll play next week and over in Paris in the World Match Play. We'll just take it one week at a time and we'll see how I feel after the next few weeks.

Q. What will it depend on?

BEN CURTIS: Basically how I'm playing and how I'm feeling, if I feel like I'll be burned out. The big factor is I don't want to come into next year burned out, so I want to get some time off where I can relax, spend time with the family and stuff.

Q. On Saturday how difficult will it be to block out and not try to rush through a round of golf knowing that you have to get married, but at the same time staying focused on the task at hand? How difficult will it be and how will you do that?

BEN CURTIS: Hopefully I won't be too bad, but I know it's going to be nerve wracking. I'm just going to try to calm myself down and be patient and not worry about it because I know in the back of my mind I'll be looking at my watch the whole day, let's go, let's get out of here, but I'm going to have a lot of fun and not worry about it. She's very understanding. She said just go out there and play good and not worry about the wedding until it's over.

Q. Is your speech written, your wedding speech? You've got to do one, you know.

EN CURTIS: We've got it written so it's fine.

Q. We? Who is we?

BEN CURTIS: Well, we've worked it out. We've got something worked out and it's fine.

Q. Do you want to rehearse it for us now?

BEN CURTIS: That's okay.

Q. You know when women say it doesn't matter they often don't mean that?

BEN CURTIS: Well, she's very understanding, let's put it that way. I'm really looking forward to it. I have no regrets about this. I'll just go out there and we're just going to have fun.

Q. Have you ever played golf in a tux before?

BEN CURTIS: No, I have not, and I'm not going to, either.

Q. Is it a more lavish wedding because of Sandwich?

BEN CURTIS: No, we kept everything the same. We haven't really changed anything. We sent out like two extra invitations and that was it. We both are firm believers of what we committed to and that's what we're going to keep.

Q. You said you were kind of letting your agents handle all the business part, but will you get more involved maybe when this calms down and kind of decide what you want to be a part of or not, or are you just going to kind of --

EN CURTIS: Well, yeah, they take everything in and then I kind of give them the final approval or no. What I do is I commit to it. It's not their decision, it's my decision. They suggest some things and I may go with it. They know what needs to be done and I know what I want to do, it's just a matter of how I feel and everything like that.

Q. I want to make sure I understood you right. You said next week is Paris?

BEN CURTIS: No, Deutsche Bank, the PGA Tour event, and then a week off and then Paris.

Q. Is that part of the honeymoon?

BEN CURTIS: No, we're going to go a week before. Just between Candace and I, we have a spot picked out and we're just going to go there, and the following week we'll be in Paris.

Q. What's your reaction to Shaun Micheel winning?

BEN CURTIS: I thought it was great. I watched the last six or seven holes. He performed great. He's a good player obviously, he showed it, and the last shot he hit on 18 was unbelievable. Everybody dreams of hitting a shot like that and he did it. I applaud him for that and I congratulate him for sticking up and fighting until the end.

Q. Along that line, when you see that happen, do you think maybe you inspired a guy like him to think he could do that?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I hope so. He said so in his interview afterwards, but he's obviously a good player and I think it just proves that -- it just shows how deep this game in and how deep this tour is. Any one of the guys can win out here any given week. It shows you how good these guys are. It's a great tour and everybody has gotten a little better each year. That's one of the reasons why nobody is afraid anymore.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ben Curtis, best of luck this week.

End of FastScripts....

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