August 20, 1999
PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA
Q. Just run down your birdies. You won the 1st hole with a par?
BEN CURTIS: Yes. That's correct.
Q. 2nd, you both bogeyed?
BEN CURTIS: Right.
Q. What, did you miss --
BEN CURTIS: He hit it in the bunker and chipped short of the bunker out in the fairway, and I hit it short and right, and didn't have much of a chance. And I had to hit it left; I got up-and-down for bogey to tie the hole.
Q. Birdied 3?
BEN CURTIS: Correct.
Q. How far?
BEN CURTIS: About 15 feet.
Q. What did you hit in there?
BEN CURTIS: I hit a little 8-iron.
Q. Birdied 4; they just showed it on TV.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, there, he hit it in the back, and I just hit a little sand wedge in there to about six feet below the hole. And he 3-putted; so that made it pretty easy.
Q. Both bogeyed 5?
BEN CURTIS: Yes. I hit it in the front bunker.
Q. One left bunker, one right bunker?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, and we didn't get it up-and-down.
Q. Birdied 6?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I hit the green in 2 and just had a 30-footer and 2-putted it, and then he missed it.
Q. What did you hit in there?
BEN CURTIS: A 3-wood.
Q. Just routine pars on 7?
BEN CURTIS: We both hit it to like 20, 25 feet and we both missed.
Q. 8, which is one of the toughest holes in golf, you birdied?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I tried to keep it below the hole. And I knew it was really quick, but fortunately, I hit it above the hole and just tapped it and it went in. One of those you try to get as close as you can if you miss.
Q. What did you use after the tee?
BEN CURTIS: I hit a driver, because yesterday I noticed the ball wasn't going as far as it was the past two days. And maybe later in the day it would go farther, but I just hit driver and just hit it towards the end of the fairway.
Q. He doubles 9. Was that just a routine par for you, on the green in 2?
BEN CURTIS: No. I was just to the right of the bunker; so I had a difficult chip. But I hit it up to four or five or six feet, somewhere in that range. And he 3-putted for a double.
Q. And then another birdie on 10?
BEN CURTIS: Correct. That was just 20 feet or so, just dead up the hill. It was pretty straight.
Q. Both bogeyed 11?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, we both hit it in the rough, to the right, and we both didn't have very good lies. And we just hit it out toward the fairway and made routine bogeys.
Q. And both par --
BEN CURTIS: We both hit the green on 12, and I had a 3-footer for par to win the match.
Q. You have not trailed, if I read the board, you have not trailed in any of your four matches; is that right?
BEN CURTIS: That's correct. I've never been behind. The closest I've been was even through 12 yesterday -- or 13 through yesterday.
Q. You also said on TV you've had a good summer playing golf. Can you sort of just go through it, and just starting at the end of the school year and what you've done?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I played in the Palmer Cup, and I played pretty well there; I was 3-1 in my matches. I played in the Monroe Invitational, and finished 7th there; played pretty solid. And then about three weeks later played in the State Am, and I won that; I won by two shots. And then I played in the Porter Cup and finished 12th; didn't play very well there. And then two weeks ago at the Western, finished 4th in qualifying, but then lost first round.
Q. Have you been a good match-play player over the years? A lot of guys hate match play, because you have one weird round and you're out. Can you describe that at all?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I did all right when I was a Junior. I went to the finals of the Western Juniors and lost to Brad Elder there, but I've won a couple of matches in the U.S. Junior. And when I came up to the Amateur level, you've got the Western and the U.S. Am, and that's really it. And I went to the quarters of the Western two years ago, so -- and then lost first round in '96 at the U.S. Am. I haven't played a lot of match play in the last few years, but it feels good again. I like match play. I think it tests every part of your game, because I think the best player always wins, just like stroke-play.
Q. Craig wants to know if you were surprised by the fact that it was 76, by your round?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I prepared myself last night to go in for a tough match with Andy Sanders. I know he's a great player. And I grew up playing with him quite a bit. But you go into it and you don't know what to expect; so you go out and try to do your best, stay focused and be patient.
Q. Could you run down your golfing background a little bit, where you grew up, how you started in the game, did you play any other sports?
BEN CURTIS: Well, my grandfather owns a golf course, a little public course back home. So I grew up; I started playing when I was little.
Q. Where is that?
BEN CURTIS: Delaware, Ohio. And then -- so I just played a lot of young Junior events, like everybody else did. But I started when I was eight, long before a lot of these other guys. And then when I got to high school, I played basketball in the winter months, because you can't really play golf in the winter. There's too much snow on the ground; so I just played a lot of basketball in the winter, and played golf in the winter and summer.
Q. What position were you in basketball?
BEN CURTIS: I played shooting guard. I wasn't much of a -- I played varsity, but I wasn't very good.
Q. What high school was that?
BEN CURTIS: Buckeye Valley.
Q. Back for your earlier comments, you said the 8th hole played the toughest for you?
BEN CURTIS: Well, just off the tee, because the other day I hit 3-wood and I had over 200 yards. In, and we thought the wind was downwind, but you get up there, and it's really kind of into you off the tee. And I hit a driver through the fairway before 2. So it was one of those I choked down on the driver and tried to keep it low and hit it solid, because I just don't want to -- you want to get out far enough where you can see down to the hole, because if not you just see the flag, but you don't really see the green.
Q. You shot 1-under today; so it was pretty tough for anybody to stay up with you?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I played really well. Yesterday, I didn't play very well. I played pretty sloppy in the morning round. I was fortunate enough to win that. And I played a little better in the afternoon; so I just -- out here you've got to go out, and par is a birdie almost, because you hit it in the rough, and who knows what will happen.
Q. Had you been out here before? Had you seen Pebble? What was your first impression when you saw it?
BEN CURTIS: I've just seen it on TV, and it's much different than you see. It's a lot more exciting. It was the first time out here, and it's been a great week for me.
Q. What do you think about tomorrow's match with David?
BEN CURTIS: It's going to be -- I think it will be really good, because David is going to play well. He's going to play solid golf, because he's one of the best amateurs around. It will be fun, I think. I'm looking forward to it. I'm just going to have to go out there and play my best.
Q. You talk about David being one of the best amateurs, and you talk about Andy being a real good player. Are you kind of feeling like now you're up in that class? Obviously, going to Kent State, you don't get that much publicity around, and you don't get to play in the high profile tournaments, Palmer Cup. And now advancing here, do you feel like: Hey, I'm with these guys now?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I think so. Mentally, you always think that you're one of the best, but when you come here and read about all of these other players and not yourself -- so you realize that you're not one of those most popular, the most popular players. I think this summer I've been playing well, and I set the goal to make the Walker Cup. But you've got to win a couple of tournaments to do that. And I haven't done that yet, but maybe this week things will turn around. And I was joking with some people back home, and it's like, on the way to the airport, I said: "Someone is going to this tournament not knowing they're going to win, and their whole life is going to change Sunday afternoon." Hopefully, that's me. You never know.
Q. Does it ever frustrate you, the fact that you are a pretty accomplished player, but you haven't gotten any notoriety before or whatnot?
BEN CURTIS: No. Because all those great players deserve the notoriety, but I just go out there and work hard every day. And I just know, you know, some time my day will come, and maybe it's this week. No, I don't think it's -- I've never had a grudge or anything. I just go out there and play, that's all I want to do.
Q. Ohio, particularly the Ohio State with Nicklaus and Weiskopf and Cook all going there, sort of had a great tradition, then kids started going to the Sun Belt schools to play golf. Was there an option with you, and was it a tough choice?
BEN CURTIS: Not really. I just looked at where would be the best place for me, like where I'd fit in the best. And I knew a lot of kids on our team at Kent State. And then the other schools I was looking at, I just didn't feel real comfortable. And I felt like I'd go there and a great coach. He's done a lot for me to help my game and everything; so I think I made the best choice.
Q. Think we'll get Herb Page to fly in tomorrow?
BEN CURTIS: Actually, he's flying in tonight. I called him last night and he said, "I've got a ticket on hold." He's like: You go out there and win. He was out recruiting. He was in Canada, and so he's driving to Cleveland right now. And he's going to go straight to the plane.
Q. How did he recruit you?
BEN CURTIS: Well, first of all, he started out at our state tournament my junior year. And then the next summer when he came around, he just followed me around. He's not one of those heavy recruiters you don't see that goes everywhere. If he sees one or two guys that he wants, he'll go follow you around and call you. What I like about him is he's down-to-earth and one of those guys you can get along with. He's like one of us, in a way. He wasn't like Coach Brown; 8:00 o'clock July 1 he was knocking on my door. It wasn't one of those deals. But he called me and he was just straightforward and was honest with me the whole time.
Q. What are you majoring in, and are you a student as well as a golfer?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I major in Recreation Management, and so -- that's what mostly golfers take. I hope to have a --
Q. What other schools -- you say that Kent was the right place for you. What other schools were you entertaining or looking at?
BEN CURTIS: Florida Southern and Ohio State, mostly. I looked at Oklahoma State, but I knew after a couple of weeks that wasn't the place for me. That was basically it.
Q. What kind of classes do you take in Recreation Management?
BEN CURTIS: You work a lot with disabled kids. It's a lot dealing with that and leisure programs, what you would do with certain people with Alzheimer's and disabled kids. That's the kind of classes. You'll never hear of any of these classes, probably. They've got different names to them.
End of FastScripts....