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March 17, 2007

Ben Curtis


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ben Curtis, 6-under par in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, thank you for joining us here. You're chasing Vaughn Taylor still, but in good position heading no tomorrow's final round.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, it was playing tough out there today, especially on the front. You know, on the back I settled down and made some good swings and, you know, was able to convert a couple of birdies.

Q. Did you think you would be chasing Vaughn at the end of the day, especially when you looked up on the front nine?
BEN CURTIS: Well, it was playing very difficult. I think Vaughn is a grinder, as well. You just never know out here. If you can hit the fairways and hit some greens and give yourself a lot of opportunities to make some birdies out here; it doesn't matter who you are. You know, it doesn't matter if it was Tiger, Vaughn, Ernie or Vijay.

Q. I just meant as you were going around the front nine and it's a grind and you look up and there's Casey and Rocco at 10-under. Looked like a two-man race for a while.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, exactly, they got off to the best starts you can hope for out there.
I felt it got easier as the day went on because the wind died down a little bit. It might have been where in between the wind, you felt the wind blowing, and then you hit and then it stopped and it didn't carry as far as you thought or whatever.
Yeah, you know I'm just happy to be in this position. Any time you can shoot in the 60s three days in a row out here, you'll be happy.

Q. With the two wins last year, is the monkey on your back long gone now?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I'm not worried about that anymore. I'm just trying to get in contention and try to make some wins and that's all I'm focused on doing.

Q. Have you seen as many guys -- inaudible -- as intense and competitive as he is out there?
BEN CURTIS: I can think of about a hundred more guys out here. Obviously he's a great player. He knows how to win. So I think that's the key factor is out here, you know that he's not going to play bad tomorrow and you're going to have to play good to keep up.

Q. What's the worst display of temper you've ever had?
BEN CURTIS: Me? Oh, I can do it. (Laughter) I just won't do it on TV. (Laughter).
I've had a few helicopter; but I'll keep it under control.

Q. Where was that?
BEN CURTIS: Maybe a few places. In college mostly.

Q. Can you talk about your history, you're kind of on or off; when you're on, when you have a chance to win, I mean, you play good and you win by ten or whatever. I'm sure you've tried to find an answer for that but as far as being more consistent, the weeks you're on and playing well?
BEN CURTIS: I think everything comes together. This year, it's been -- I made, what, five of seven cuts now; and one week I putt good, I hit it good and next week I hit it good and put bad. So it a combination of the both.
This week, kind of putting everything together, getting the up-and-downs when you need to, making that key 10-footer for par, especially like on 17 when you finish 40th or so, those are the putts you miss, and I think that's -- I think any time you look at the stats, anybody, if they are in the Top-10 in the field, they are inside ten feet, they are pretty much like 90 percent, I wouldn't say every week, but that's the majority of the case.

Q. You you've got a major to your credit already. Do you prefer the types of courses like this where par still means something versus shooting 28-under in Palm Springs or something? Does that suit you better?
BEN CURTIS: I think so. I like the rough when it's like this. Puts a premium on hitting the fairway. You know when if you miss the fairway, you know most of the time you're not going to get there. And like today on 1, I got lucky and had a somewhat of a decent lie and was able to chop it on the green and make a putt for birdie.
For example, like 15, my ball was only in the rough by, you know, two or three inches, and I had to hit it out just about 50 yards or so.
You almost want to miss it big. Like 10, I almost hit it over where the out-of-bounds was and had a perfect shot the at green.

Q. The U.S. Open theory.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I like this style of golf. The fairways are a little bit soft. I think -- I don't know what the reason is for that, but I prefer them a little bit firmer so you have to control your shots. But it doesn't really matter. I think conditions speak for itself. Like as Booz Allen, we had perfect weather for four days -- well, I shouldn't say that about Booz Allen.

Q. For six days.
BEN CURTIS: For six days. The conditions of the course were great and it's just relative to what everybody else was shooting as well. If everybody else is shooting well, I don't mind it. The type of course or the type of tournaments where you have to shoot a certain number, it doesn't matter.

Q. So would it be meaningful to win tomorrow for no other reason than there's a really good chance this will be on the schedule next year?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, that would be a good incentive I guess. Winning two tournaments and not having to go back and defend either one of those, I don't think that's ever happened.

Q. You don't have to do the Media Days.
BEN CURTIS: That's true. I don't have to listen to you. (Laughter).

Q. When you're in position to win the tournament, when you do get in that position, you seem to know how to close the deal pretty well, and talking about knowing how to win, Vaughn has won a couple of tournaments, but he's never been in the kind of situation with a full-field event and the kind of thing he'll face tomorrow. Is there any advice, or did you have to go through that growth process the first time you had to close this kind of deal that he may be facing tomorrow?
BEN CURTIS: Oh, definitely. I think I had -- I could -- five or six tournaments going into the weekend where I had a good chance of winning, and I was more concerned about what everybody else was doing.
Finally last year I said: If I ever get in that position again, kind of tune everybody else out and just focus on what I need to do and it seemed to help.
Having two wins last year was proof of that. I can go out there tomorrow and shoot 65 and lose by five shots. But, you know, if that's the case, who cares. I mean, I can't control what everybody else does. I can only control what I do.
I think if you look at -- obviously Tiger, he knows how to do that and I think he just focuses on his game and obviously you adjust to how you're standing with a few holes to go. If you have a few-shot lead, you'll probably play a little different than you would the rest of the day. So just focus on what you have to do.

Q. As an Orlando resident now, would winning this tournament mean perhaps anything more because this is basically now your hometown tournament?
BEN CURTIS: Well, yeah, I would still consider Muirfield and Akron my hometown. That's where I grew up and I still have a place up there.
But obviously, you know, this is one of the tournaments I look forward to every year. This is my fifth or sixth year here now. To just be able to sleep in your own bed at night, it's a good feeling; all of the distractions of a hotel and going out to eat, you don't have to worry about that. Just stay home and go through your normal routine and just feel like you're getting up and going and playing at the club anymore.

Q. Candace's cooking that good?
BEN CURTIS: It's good. I wouldn't say it's stellar. (Laughter).

Q. That's going to cost you.
BEN CURTIS: That's all right. No, but she's good.

Q. You're going to pay.
BEN CURTIS: Oh, she'll be the first to tell you. But it's been a lot of fun this week.

Q. You're going to Augusta in a couple weeks, the last time you beat Charles Howell, and this time you try to take down Vaughn, do you think you'll be pretty popular if you go two or two?
BEN CURTIS: I don't know. Wait until tomorrow to find out.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ben Curtis, thank you.

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