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June 22, 2006

Ben Curtis


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Ben Curtis after a 9 under, 62 in the Booz Allen Classic. Four birdies in a row on the front nine and five in a row on the back.

BEN CURTIS: Yes, everything was easy. After the first hole it was kind of a freak of nature I think. First hole, barely got it to the fairway, it was just blowing so hard, just for five minutes. So after that it just played extremely well. Hit every shot pretty much where I wanted to. Hit it close quite a few times and made a few putts as well. So everything, it just was slow and easy.

TODD BUDNICK: How does that get you going?

BEN CURTIS: I think after playing last week, I mean, the fairways look like they are 80 yards wide, the greens look huge, so you just kind of free swing. I've been swinging well. Other than one day last week, I hit it pretty well. So I felt like if I could get my irons going that I could shoot a good number.

Q. When you talked about it being free and easy, what is that like on that kind of a roll if you know if you're hitting good shots, you have a chance for birdies?

BEN CURTIS: Oh, it feels great. This is what you dream of and this is what you play and practice for, to get to that feeling. I mean, you don't get it very often. So, you know, when you feel that comfortable out there, just want to take advantage of it, and that's what I did. I made a couple decent length putts, but everything else is pretty much right inside ten feet.

Q. It's been an issue here from the beginning of the tournament with not always having the deepest fields, and yet you're talking about the sensation of feeling like the fairways are twice as wide as they were normally and greens are easier to hit. Why don't everybody just come here to heal after the Open?

BEN CURTIS: You can look at it both ways. You want to go home and get away from golf and not think about what just happened last week.

For me, I was playing well, so I knew I needed to play. If I wasn't playing well, then maybe I wouldn't be here, but since I'm playing well, it's a great opportunity to come play. Just because all the top players in the world aren't here doesn't mean it's not a good field. Everybody here is a good player, and, so, you know, anybody can play anymore, that's the way golf is going.

Q. Obviously this is your lowest round on the PGA TOUR, but can you remember any competitive rounds when you went even lower than this?

BEN CURTIS: Not competitively, no.

Q. Since the British Open, you've struggled obviously. Tell us what's gone on the last couple years, and is this sort of a comeback year?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I hope so. I mean, it feels I've been telling a few people, I feel like I'm playing like I did three years ago, four years ago in, 2003. Just making a lot of cuts. Just haven't put four rounds together.

So I felt like if I could get four rounds together then I would play extremely well and maybe have a chance to win. You know, last year, I had some good scores, since last year at the Western. There for a couple years it was just a struggle. Didn't play very well, that's all it was, but got the game going and just been able to shoot some low numbers.

It's been tough, but the last year, but it's been pretty good. I just wish I could get four rounds together.

Q. You and your wife are expecting a baby, does that sort of make you focus a little?

BEN CURTIS: I wouldn't say more, but it has helped a little bit. You know, it's one of the great things in life that you want to be there with her, so trying to play as much as I can and as good as I can so I can take a little break.

Q. Just to follow up, when is where you are wife due?

BEN CURTIS: September 25.

Q. In winning the British, obviously that was a great achievement, great part of your life, did it put more pressure on you did you feel that you have not handled the pressure of being the British Open champion as well as you wanted to?

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think I thought I was dealing with it well, but the more I look back on it, maybe I could have done a few things differently. For the most part, I mean, it was my rookie year, I got thrown in there. So I thought I handled myself well, but obviously I think if I did it again, I'd probably do a few things differently. But overall, I was happy with the way I dealt with it. I just wish my game was a little bit better.

Q. To follow up on that, what in general or what specifically would you do differently, right off the top of your head?

BEN CURTIS: You know, I think I wouldn't go play in a tournament just to play in a tournament. I'd go to play to be ready. I think there's a few tournaments where I wasn't ready to play and I just led into having a few bad habits get into my golf game and my swing and mentally.

So that part, I wish if I wasn't ready to go, just say, hey, sorry, I can't make it, I wish I could be there, but just not ready to go. And that's basically all that it was. I think I got a few bad habits going. You know, you start going downhill and it just kept going.

Q. I know a win's a win, but is there a sense here that without a lot of the top players, that, hey, it would be nice to pick one off, more of a chance to pick off a win?

BEN CURTIS: Well, obviously, it helps that they are not here. If Phil, Tiger, Ernie are here, they are going to be the top of the leaderboard by the end of the week. It doesn't matter if I'm in position on Sunday to have a chance. The guy I'm going to be playing against or the whole field, whoever is there, they are going to be tough to beat. I mean, everybody out here can play some golf and, you know, so you are not really going to worry about that until it happens but just try to focus on my game and what I need to do to give myself a chance.

Q. Did you relate at all to what was going on with Geoff Ogilvy on Sunday; he's in the scorer's tent and all of a sudden you've won the U.S. Open?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I didn't actually watch it until Tuesday night. It was on the Golf Channel re run, because I was on a plane home. I didn't get a chance to see it. It was a lot of similarities there, just the way he won and how I won and how he kind of came under the radar. So a lot of emotions and memories came back.

Q. A little bit of a touchy question, but when you first one it was like, obviously a big feel good story, a guy comes out of nowhere to win, for most golf fans. Two years go by and you struggled a little bit. A lot of people sort of lumped you in with Shaun Micheel as a guy you see, just a total random, will never win again kind of thing; did you ignore all of that or do you use it to motivate you?

BEN CURTIS: I ignore it. I've got enough motivation to win again and to be competitive again. So I don't really pay attention to that because there's so many good players in this world that have only won once or actually that, have never won anything. Just to be able to win one tournament is an accomplishment, something I'm very proud of, but obviously I want to win again.

Q. What's this Baltimore Ravens allegiance that you're sporting here?

BEN CURTIS: Yeah, the worst team in the NFL no, just kidding. I thought I would get it out of the way today with an early tee time and beat the crowd. Who would have thought that my least favorite team, that I would go onto shoot a career low? Maybe I'll have to wear it again later on this week.

Q. I assume you're being sarcastic when you say "least favorite team?"

BEN CURTIS: Oh, I'm a Browns fan.

Q. I didn't understand the Baltimore connection.

BEN CURTIS: It's an NFL deal. I got a deal with Reebok and I wear all the local teams.

Q. When you won, was that hard to handle; I remember your hometown, I think you had a parade or something after you won?

BEN CURTIS: I mean, it was I wouldn't say it was hard to deal with. It was just a lot at once and very tiring. I think I that kind of just led in, you know, I wasn't ready to play because I can't physically ready to go. But you know, it was fun to deal with. You only live once. So take advantage of it and have a good time and that's what we did. Hope to get back there again and if I do, I'll be better prepared.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through you card.

BEN CURTIS: 2, I hit a sand wedge to three or four feet and knocked that in.

3, 3 iron to 20 feet or so. Knocked that in.

4, hit an 8 iron in there to about 20 feet behind the hole.

I hit a sand wedge on 5 to about a foot. So that made it easy.

13, I hit just inside of the green in two, chipped up to about a foot, tapped that in.

Next hole, drove it on the green and 2 putted from 35 feet.

Next hole, hit a 6 iron in there to 12 feet or so. Made that.

Next hole, hit a wedge in there to a foot, tapped that in. 6 iron on 17 to I'd say eight feet.

Q. How many times since the British have you been first, second round leader; do you know?

BEN CURTIS: It's been a couple times. It's been a few times. Memorial, Firestone, Hilton Head. You know, it's been three or four times.

Q. Did you put any more pressure on yourself going into those situations trying to backup what happened at the British?

BEN CURTIS: I tried to use how I played on Sunday at the British to get me through those final rounds. Obviously I was nervous and it's not an easy thing to deal with and you've got some of the best players in the world chasing you. So you've got to go out there and play well. I think, you know, I dealt with most of it pretty well. I just didn't play well. I think a lot of those times when I did, I came out of nowhere, I wasn't playing good at all. I mean, I missed like eight cuts in a row and all of a sudden I would be in the lead. The game wasn't completely there; whereas this year, I made a lot of cuts but haven't finished well at all. Hopefully this time I'll deal with it differently and play well.

Q. Were you aware you were going for a share of the record there on 18?

BEN CURTIS: No, I had no idea.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Ben. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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