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August 10, 2008

Ben Curtis


KELLY ELBIN: Ben Curtis, ladies and gentlemen, in with a final round 1-over par 71 at the 90th PGA Championship. Four-day total of 279, 1-under par ties him with Sergio Garcia for second place. Two strokes behind PGA Champion, Padraig Harrington.
Ben, thoughts on the way the round went today, and certainly you had a lot of sound ahead of you with Padraig and Sergio.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, a little up-and-down. I played pretty solid the first seven, eight holes, and then coming around the turn just hit a maybe hit a wall, just kind of getting a little fatigued and a little tired.
And it was just a mental grind all day, and obviously leaving here I'm going to feel really good. I played well coming down the stretch. Just didn't get it done.
And the way Padraig played was pretty unbelievable. Those two guys up front were making birdies and you could hear the crowd all day.
So it was kind of fun. I wish, I almost wish that you were playing with them just to kind of see what was really going on. But I was just trying to stay focused on my game and try to make a lot of pars and try to stay away from bogeys.
KELLY ELBIN: Would you go through those birdies and bogeys, please.
BEN CURTIS: I hit a nice sand wedge into No. 1. Made probably a 15-footer.
6, I drove it on the front edge of the green, 2-putt.
8, hit a good drive, and then didn't hit my second shot very solid, got caught up in the wind and it fell short and missed, I hit a good chip and I would say I missed a 5-, 6-footer.
9, just came over the top of a 2-iron, just I don't like those back right pins. Especially with the wind coming off the right to struggle with those and I made a decent bogey after my first bunker shot.
Then 11, I thought I hit a good drive and just carried it into that bunker. Which wouldn't have been too bad, but the ball was well below my feet, and I almost shanked it, but -- well, actually, I did; I hit it up almost on the 12th tee. And hit a great chip to give myself a chance and missed a 15-footer.
12, just flew it over, just hit it over the back edge of the green, made a nice up-and-down for a birdie.
14, hit a nice 7-iron in there to 15 feet and rolled that in.
Then the last two bogeys, 15, I hit a bad tee shot with a 2-iron again. Just hit it in the left rough, missed a 10, 12-footer for par.
Then 17, I hit it a little thin, just hit the shot a little thin. I needed to hit it a little more solid. And that was why it bounced through the green, and I had a tough lie and just didn't get up-and-down.
KELLY ELBIN: You mentioned the fatigue playing 36 holes today. Did that catch up to you a little bit at the end.
BEN CURTIS: I think so. Anybody that tells you that it didn't, especially the shape that I'm in, you know, so just I felt a little fatigue.
But overall you still have to hit the shots, and I felt like mentally I was there for every shot; it just didn't happen.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.

Q. In the silver lining department, you get to wear red, white and blue, which I guess is not -- wasn't your goal coming in this, necessarily, today, but is not a bad consolation price.
BEN CURTIS: Oh, it's, I guess if you're going to finish second and they tell you that you qualify for the Ryder Cup, I think that you'll take it. It almost is a victory in itself.
It was a goal that I set. I wasn't going to worry about it if I was right on the number and close to making it other way back like I was. But I feel like I can help this team, and I know a lot of the guys on the European side, as well, but I think it's going to be good fun.
KELLY ELBIN: Ben is one of eight Americans to clinch Ryder Cup berths today.

Q. Have you ever played at Valhalla before?
BEN CURTIS: No, I have not.

Q. What are the emotions ever just making the team? Just take us through of making the team, and realizing that you achieved that goal, and the way you did it, too.
BEN CURTIS: I think you'll have to call me in a couple days. Right now I'm still tired, and just obviously it was trying to win a golf tournament. And it was extremely difficult to do that, and I'm just happy that I hung in there and gave it my all on every shot.
And coming down the last two holes, I had a chance to win the golf tournament, and that's all you can ask. You don't get these opportunities very often, and to be able to stick in there and to be able to hold my emotions under control is a good feeling.

Q. For those of us who weren't out there playing, can you put into perspective given the conditions and the golf course somebody shooting 66-66 on the weekend?
BEN CURTIS: You wouldn't think it was possible at the start of the week, and obviously the soft conditions helped a little bit; but it was playing tough out there. That wind was whipping around pretty good. It came pretty much the same direction all week, I think which helped.
But to shoot 8-under on the weekend is pretty impressive. And it's probably one of the better two rounds that we have seen in a long time.

Q. Just to follow-up on that, as far as the softness of the greens, do you think that such performances would have been possible had it not rained like it did or had the greens not gotten watered a lot?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I mean Romero shot 5-under yesterday and when it was really firm, so you can't say no. But really I think that over par probably still would have won.

Q. In contrast with your Open Championship win, you were the one on the back nine playing against numbers being posted ahead of you. You mentioned the excitement going on; did you feel like you were sort of playing uphill most of that nine?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I think, yeah, after No. 11 I was obviously, I had to fight my way back into it, being I think three back at the time maybe.
And so I knew, obviously with 12 playing downwind and with a pretty accessible pin, that I figured that I needed to make birdie there. If I didn't, you know, not that the tournament would have been lost, but it would have been very hard to make a comeback, especially with those last three or four holes.

Q. Did you give any thought to hitting off of the platform in the hospitality tent area?
BEN CURTIS: No. (Laughter.). I got lucky there. (Laughter.)

Q. Was it like a beer tent or what was it over there?
BEN CURTIS: I don't know. There's a lots of beer going -- being consumed over in that section of the golf course though. (Laughter.).

Q. Does it help at all knowing you have a Major in your back pocket at all? And also it's such an individual thing. But do you at all feel for Sergio, being so close yet to his first Major?
BEN CURTIS: I think it's a matter of time for Sergio. He's been close the last couple years especially. I don't think it's going to matter. Eventually he's just going to play well and he's going to win one. I mean, he's such a talented player; it's just a matter of time.

Q. You talked about how the Ryder Cup was a goal, can you talk about at any point over the last month that it's actually been something that you thought about?
BEN CURTIS: I think after the British Open, playing well there, I think I got too caught up in it, maybe too much in the final round that week to say hey, if I get in the top-5, you know, it would be a Major boost to jump up the rankings.
But this week I didn't even think about it, to be honest with you. Especially once I got in the hunt. It was just winning this golf tournament and let that take care of itself.
I think on 18, I think that I had a pretty good idea if I made that on my own, that to finish second on my own, that it might have been to secure it, but it hasn't really been that big of a thought to me. I'm just trying to get my game ready and to play golf and let it take care of itself.

Q. I think a lot of people don't really realize, or at least maybe don't pay attention enough to know that when you do get in contention, you're not in contention a lot, but it tends to be on fairly hard golf courses. What is it about a course like this or Birkdale or St. Georges? What do you apply in your game to those golf courses that allows you to maybe get some success?
BEN CURTIS: I think it's just my style of golf, the way I play. I think that the harder the shot I have, the more I concentrate and the more I feel like I have the ability to pull those things off.
But I strive on making pars in Majors. And you know that at the end of the week if you shoot even par, you're not going to be far off the lead, it doesn't matter how easy or hard the golf course is. There might be some weeks where you'll be way back, but you're going to feel pretty good about your game because they are the four toughest tests you see all year, and I think I just -- because I drive the ball fairly straight, and I feel like I am a good putter, and I'm a little streaky. But I feel like I have good pace on my stroke, as well; that I don't have a tendency to 3-putt too much. And so I think that you just live up to it, I just strive to play good on these hard golf courses.

Q. What was it like to stand on the 17th tee with that pin and that hole knowing, that you really needed a birdie. How difficult a situation is that?
BEN CURTIS: Oh, it's tough. That's the hardest shot for me with a right pin and a right-to-left wind. I always have a tendency to aim too far right or too far left and pull it. But too far right and just kind of fan it out there; it's such a hard shot that I would rather aim 30 yards left and try to hit a hard cut. But it's just -- it's a hard shot to pull off when you know you got about a five-foot area to land it in to keep it close.

Q. Can you offer some sort of perspective given what you've gone through what Padraig has accomplished the last month, to win two Majors, but in those conditions, with the wind at Birkdale and obviously the conditions here this weekend?
BEN CURTIS: I think if I'm correct, he's won three out of the last six Majors that we played. That puts it in -- that's Tiger like right there. I mean, if he keeps his -- keeps up the way he's been playing lately, and the way he's played in those Majors, I wouldn't say, watch out, Jack; but I mean, he's playing pretty impressive golf.

Q. Would you say, "Watch out, Tiger?"
BEN CURTIS: No, not "Watch out Tiger." Watch out, Jack. You know, but obviously he's, he knows how to win. He's not afraid to win. And that's what it takes.

Q. Would you say that the hole locations for the third and fourth rounds were setup to encourage lower scoring or not?
BEN CURTIS: Yes and no. I think that it would have been fun to play 17 with just the pin kind of in the front middle. Maybe move the tee up where you can hit 7- or 8-iron in there. I think that would have been a lot of fun for the fans to see.
But definitely, there was, you know, there's a lot of holes where the ball would funnel down towards it. Like 18. Especially with the hard hole like that, it's nice to -- whether you're hitting 2-iron in there to be able to know that you have a little bit of room to the right, and behind it where it will feedback to the hole.
So I would say, yeah, there's some tough pins out there, but I don't really look at it that way. The golf course is hard enough as it is that you can hit -- the pin could be the easiest pin in the world, but if you don't hit a good shot, it makes it awfully tough.

Q. You said on Wednesday that you were a guy that doesn't make a heck of a lot of birdies, and you said in your interview a few minutes ago that you were really happy that the Midwest fans came out and were cheering for you, but you made a lot of birdies this week, and even more so there were a lot of fans that were from all over the country that were rooting for you. Do you think you can use this week as sort of a springboard to make it a breakout so that you make a lot more birdies and are going to be really competitive from week-to-week and that the fans are going to be even more -- will find you even more accessible and cheer even harder for you than they're doing right now, if that's possible?
BEN CURTIS: As far as the birdies are, I mean, I mean I shot 20-under at Booz Allen. I know can I make them. It's just maybe not as consistent as like Phil and Tiger are where they make four or five birdies around. And obviously my style of play is -- I'm going to try to give myself the best chance to make birdie, but if I don't, let's make par and move forward.
So up in Canada, it was the same way. You needed to make a lot of birdie and I made two or three a round, and it was back of the pack.
But as far as fans, the fans were great this week. A lot of support. I think that wearing the Lions gear helps, and so hopefully it will help their team out and give the fans a little bit of excitement, and so it was a lot of fun out there.
KELLY ELBIN: Ben Curtis, tied for second in the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club, thank you, Ben.
BEN CURTIS: Thank you.

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