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July 19, 2008

Ben Curtis


MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by Ben Curtis, 2003 Open Champion. Ben shot 70 today in very difficult conditions for a three-round total of 217, 7-over par. Just how difficult was it out there today in that wind?
BEN CURTIS: It was probably about as tough as you can play out there. You know, I probably didn't hit it as good as I did yesterday in the second half of my round on Thursday, but I got away with a few shots and made quite a few putts out there, and that's the hardest part of the day, I think, is making the putts.
They moved a couple tees up for us. That was nice of them.
Although I think 16 today with the wind the way it was almost played harder, very hard tee shot. It was almost directly right to left off the tee. So just made that extremely difficult to hit, especially when the hole is going to the right, as well.
But yeah, just coming in on the back nine, just tried to make some pars and hit some good shots, and then if I gave myself a chance to make birdie, that was great.

Q. Discuss your second at the second, where it went.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I had a little uphill lie, ball below my feet, and I heeled it a little bit. I thought it was going in that front right bunker because when I looked up it was right of the pin basically halfway there. But luckily it just held its line, because my caddie said the same thing, he thought it was in the right bunker, as well.
And then when they started clapping, I thought, well, maybe it carried the bunker and it's on the right edge of the green. Then all of a sudden we walked ten more yards and they went crazy.

Q. What club?
BEN CURTIS: It was a 9-iron, but I think it was maybe 165 yards or something like that. So it was a lot of crosswind, as well. It was a little bit different than the past couple days. It was more off to the left there. But yeah, it was one of those, I thought, that's the shot I've been fighting is that to the right with the ball below my feet. I thought I hit another one, but I got lucky and maybe hit it better than I thought.

Q. Could you explain the troubles with these conditions? What you have to look out for?
BEN CURTIS: I think the biggest thing, obviously the ball can move, and you've got to pull the trigger pretty quick once you make the decision. Number two, I think when you're looking at the hole you've got to be careful the ball doesn't come back and hit your putter or your feet or something.
The big thing is you've just got to stay patient and not try to guess when to hit it but try to keep a good pace on your stroke, because that's the biggest thing, into the wind you have a tendency to have a short backswing and jerk it through, and downwind you do the same thing because the wind holds the putter up on the way back and you can get a little too quick. So just try and keep a good steady pace. It is tough out there putting.

Q. How does that round compare to say last at St. Georges in terms of satisfaction?
BEN CURTIS: I think it's not nearly the same as '03. To deal with the pressure and to play the way I did on Saturday in a major in your first time around, I think that will always be my best round I've ever played. Yeah, you may have better ball-striking days or a better scoring day, but as far as dealing with everything, you know, there isn't much that can beat that.
You know, last year I played extremely well on Sunday at Carnoustie, as well, and I actually played better when it was pouring down rain for nine holes than I did coming in. But luckily laid an eagle on 14, I believe it was.
Yeah, today was just more staying patient. I got lucky, made a deuce on the third hole and made a couple good birdies on 5 and 7 and was just hanging on for dear life, basically. It's tough out there.

Q. The chances are that by the end of today you'll be very near the top of the leaderboard. This time you won't be able to come in under the radar like you did at St. Georges. Will that make a difference to your attitude tomorrow, and do you ever dream about winning a second Open Championship?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I mean, obviously starting the day I thought if I shot even par I might be in the lead. But I still think someone will shoot -- I think 3-, 4-over par might be the leading score by the end of the day. I played with K.J. the last two days, and the way he played was pretty impressive. He made a few putts, but he could have shot a little bit lower, as well. It's hard to say.
I'm just going to let the weather and the conditions and the guys play and see how I stand, and most likely we'll be in the Top 5 or 10 anyway, so it's going to be fun to go out there tomorrow and see what can happen.

Q. Do you dream of winning a second Open Championship?
BEN CURTIS: Oh, yeah, definitely. If I had a choice of winning a major, this would be it.

Q. What do you suppose par was out there realistically today? And secondly, of the elements you guys play in, let's say straight up heat, straight up rain, cold and wind, is wind the hardest of the four to play in?
BEN CURTIS: I think -- well, par out there today is anywhere mid to high 70s. It's hard to say. All four of those combinations are very difficult. Like Thursday morning, you've got the wind and the rain. It's not so much one thing or the other. You can deal with the wind until it gets to a certain point of how strong it is. Today obviously it just went over the edge.
The first couple days -- yesterday wasn't too bad in the afternoon, but Thursday wasn't so much wind as it was the combination of everything. You know, guys are pretty good at adjusting. It's not like the wind hadn't been blowing this week. It would be one thing if it was blowing five miles an hour and all of a sudden you get these winds today. It makes it a little bit easier to adjust.

Q. How would you compare yourself as a player and a person from the Ben Curtis of '03?
BEN CURTIS: Much better, I know that. Obviously back then, you know, I didn't put any pressure or goals on myself, just want to have fun and enjoy the tournament. I had one of my best weeks I've ever played, and I've always tried to tell myself to do that again, and it's very hard to do because of the pressure that you put on yourself and your expectations.
Obviously I'm a better player than I was then. I know if I get hot, I can have a chance to win any week. There's weeks where I've played extremely well and I haven't won, finished in the Top 5.
That's just the way this game is. Everybody out here is probably better than they were in '03, as well.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Ben, thank you very much for joining us.

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