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July 4, 2007

Ben Curtis


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Ben Curtis, thank you for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the AT&T National. As you and I were walking in, we were discussing your position this week as not the defending champion, but you won the Booz Allen last year over at TPC Avenal, and I guess it kind of feels like it but maybe you need to explain it.
BEN CURTIS: Well, we're next door, so I guess that's one thing. It's pretty similar. It's only two weeks later than last year, so it's right around the same time. But it just seemed like I won last year and they decided to take it off the schedule. It's good to be back in the same town. I think it does sort of feel like you're defending, even though everybody knows it's the inaugural year of the event. It's just good to be back in a familiar area and somewhere where you get some good feelings.

Q. How does the course here at Congressional compare to Avenal?
BEN CURTIS: Well, it's totally different. Avenal is a more modern golf course and this is kind of a back-in-time golf course. You know, here, there's some run-ups -- well, basically, it's just you have to hit the fairway here. It's one of those, the rough is so thick; it's like playing in the U.S. Open. It's basically a U.S. Open setup but just not quite as firm yet, because a normal U.S. Open would be. But that's kind of the feeling that you have when you're up there on those tee boxes. If you don't hit the fairway, you're not going to hit the green.
You know, there's a couple of holes that are fairly shot that you could -- you'll get it on the green but it's just totally two different styles. These are the old poa greens compared to the bent over at the other place. These have a lot more slope to them and have a tendency to be a little more bumpy than let's say over there.

Q. Can you kind of compare and contrast the amazing difference in mood between, what, this thing ended on Tuesday last year, you and 30 other people on the golf course and people figured it was the last hoorah. And this year with the excitement and energy in the air, it's hard to believe it's sort of the same thing just a year later, because it's a big flip.
BEN CURTIS: Well, you've got to thank Tiger for that. Putting his name on it, it's going to get a lot of people excited. Just on a Wednesday, all of the people that are out there today watching, it's just amazing, all of the kids and all of the guys in their uniform from the military out there. It's a good feeling, and to be in D.C. on the 4th has probably added a little bit of something to it, as well.

Q. Did you run into any military people? Did you talk to any of them?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, on the first tee they had a few people doing the announcement of the groups. Then also on 6, I believe, or 7, the par 3, the military guy would carry your bag. It was neat, get to talk to them, go through what they go through and just hear their side of the story, just like they want to hear how we live.

Q. Can you see this event becoming a fixture like the Memorial or Colonial or Byron's tournament or Arnie's; can you see this tournament enduring with Tiger's name on it?
BEN CURTIS: I think so. Those are great legends of the game, and no matter what happens to him, he's going to be a legend from now on. If he never wins another major or whatever; he's just one of those guys that he's going to bring people to the golf course and he's going to bring excitement to the tournament. You know, to come to D.C., there's a lot of great courses and to play a good course like Congressional, you're going to get a good field every year. It's just going to bring a lot of excitement to the field and to the area, and I think it should be here for a long time.

Q. What's your stance -- some of the players complained about the limited field. What is your stance on that, you know, with guys who are out there grinding trying to gets points and all that?
BEN CURTIS: Well, you know, I think we can understand where some guys would be upset. Obviously it hurts more the Q-School guys and the guys that went through the Nationwide than probably -- if you finished in the top 125 last year, you were going to get to play.
But yeah, I could see where people are upset. Luckily I didn't have to worry about it and was qualified no matter what.

Q. What's the difference in your mind-set coming into this week as opposed to what it was like a year and two weeks ago where you had not won in a while and whatnot?
BEN CURTIS: I've had a pretty solid year. I've made 12 of 16 cuts I believe. Just haven't got over the hump. Just kind of, you know, one week, a couple weeks where I played good Thursday and Friday and didn't play good on the weekend. There's other times where I made the cut and just kept that same feeling going, just didn't make a move or just kind of finished right around 50th or 60th.
It's frustrating. Last year was kind of out of the blue. I hit it really well at the U.S. Open and putted poorly and came here and just putted really good and continued hitting it good. You know, it's just one of those weeks where you just catch fire and everything goes your way. I had a couple other good tournaments last year. This year finished 4th at Bay Hill. Just my game feels like it's right there. It's just, you know, one or two shots here and there during the week that, you know, swings or putts that if it goes in or, you know, stays up, doesn't go in the water, then maybe something good will happen and I'd have some better finishes but just didn't happen.

Q. Did you give Tiger any baby advice?
BEN CURTIS: I haven't seen him yet. I'm sure he's fine.

Q. Did your other tournament win go defunct, too?

Q. Lucky you. You kind of get to be the guy this week.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, for awhile there, for the first couple of months this year, I didn't think I was going to defend and then luckily -- maybe it was a good thing The INTERNATIONAL fell through. Just glad we got a tournament and we're back.

Q. You mentioned The INTERNATIONAL, that kind of opened the door for this; is it has to be a bummer that somebody has to fall by the wayside.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, it's a tough business. A lot of tournaments survive on where they are on the schedule, and if you get a good week -- like this week it's on the East Coast. We're pretty much playing the East Coast right now anyways. It's easy, so once they come out, or a lot of guys live in Florida and the East Coast and Dallas; the one that is live on the West Coast probably have the most difficult time.

Q. With a would you say your favorite hole at Congressional is?
BEN CURTIS: The shortest and easiest one out here. (Laughing) There's a lot of good holes. I think -- I'm trying to think. The one that really fits my eye, 4 I think is a good fit to my eye. Also No. 12. They are just simple holes, but they just -- it has a little curvage and fits my eye well.

Q. Tiger had a hand in the setup and making it a par 70, and I guess you can see that when you're playing a par 4 that's 518.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I hit it in the rough and had 250 to the green today. It wasn't much fun. (Laughing).
Traditionally those holes are downwind, and now they are into the wind. All of the long holes are into the wind. I'm trying to think -- 5 or 6, or whatever that one is -- 11, and 16 and 9 are all into the wind, and those holes, traditionally I would think would be downwind. That's probably why they are 500 yards.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Ben.

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