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July 16, 2009

Ben Curtis


MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, joined by Ben Curtis, shot 5-under, 65 today, to share the lead for The Open Championship.
Ben, you must be delighted with that start to the championship.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, it is. Anytime you can shoot a red number in a major is a good thing, no matter what the conditions are like. It was pretty ideal out there. You just had to take advantage of it, and I did.
MALCOLM BOOTH: After challenging last year and also having a very good PGA Championship, do you feel like the time is right to maybe win a second major?
BEN CURTIS: We'll see on Sunday. Just take it one day at a time.

Q. So you won one of these things from behind, can you win one from ahead? Is there a difference?
BEN CURTIS: I think so, especially on the weekend. Obviously tomorrow it shouldn't make a difference, just go out there and keep playing like I have been, and just try to work my way around the golf course. Same thing on Sunday or Saturday. It's always tough when you have a lead. But you never know. There's guys out there that might shoot 6- or 7-under.

Q. How were you playing coming into the week? Did this surprise you at all?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I finished fourth at Hartford. So I've been playing pretty decent. I mean, I haven't got a whole lot out of my game this year. And just, yeah, to be surprised -- yeah, to shoot 65 today, a little surprised, even as easy as it was playing. I was struggling just to get it lined up right and seemed to be aiming 40 yards right off the tee and hitting a lot of bad tee shots.
So yeah, to go out there and shoot that number, when to be honest I was just hoping to find a fairway, yeah, I'm surprised a little bit. But I've obviously been playing decent. I'm not shocked that I shot 65 today.

Q. You're playing decent, but you were hoping to find the fairway?
BEN CURTIS: That's what I was thinking today. Let's just be honest.

Q. Are you feeding off memories, good memories of 2003?
BEN CURTIS: Well, of course. The last couple of years have been good to me, and I've played well. I think the big thing, I just love playing links golf, knowing that you have to control your irons pretty well and just keep the ball out of those fairway bunkers and kind of manage your way around the golf course, I like doing that a little bit.
Seems like a lot of days you're just pulling out driver and seeing how far you can hit it and then you hit the ball as high as you can and get it to land soft. To be able to hit a lot of different shots is fun. And I think that's what it is more than anything.

Q. Do you get recognised over here at all, or are you still the anonymous Ben Curtis that you are in the States, since this was the site of your greatest glory?
BEN CURTIS: Well, when I'm here, yeah, on the course. But away from the course not as much. I'd say so probably more than in the States.
I think this is really a huge event for them and they know their history, know their golf over here. That's what it is more than anything. They're good to their Open champions.

Q. What did you think when you saw the name Tom Watson on top of the leaderboard?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I mean I'm not surprised. He obviously can still hit it. He's a great ball-striker, and I think for him it's just a matter of how he putts. On a day like today he's probably licking chops knowing that he can -- I don't know how many greens he hit, but I'm sure he hit 15 or 16 greens, the way he hits it.

Q. We spoke to you a couple of days ago and you said you were having a house built back home. Will you sort of add an extra wing or something if you do well here?
BEN CURTIS: No, no, not at all.

Q. How would you compare Turnberry in terms of difficulty to Royal St. Georges?
BEN CURTIS: Well, it's hard to say because back then it was my first time around. But I think it's very comparable to Carnoustie. I think the fairway bunkers you've got to work your way around a bit here, a bit more than I can remember other courses. So it's tough, that's for sure. I don't know, it's hard to say, because it was a bit breezy, so we'll find out when it gets breezy tomorrow.

Q. What part of your game was the key to the round today to shoot 65?
BEN CURTIS: Putting. I made a good par putt on 1; I made a 10- to 12-footer for par there. And just putted extremely well. Even -- I had three or four lip-outs, as well, just all the putts seemed to be with good pace and obviously on the last hole I didn't hit a good one, but that was probably the biggest thing.

Q. The guy you share the lead with, well, Tom, anyway, at the moment has got nine million of these under his belt and you were able to win it on your very first one. Do you feel like you're in maybe a better position to win this thing and handle what's coming at you since you've got a few more of them under your belt?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I'd like to think so. I'd like to think if I was in this position heading into Sunday that I'd be able to handle it well and be able to go out there and play well. But you just never know until it happens. I mean I don't really think about it until I get to the first tee.

Q. Now that you've played in a few of these Opens, are you surprised that you won the first time out? It's still pretty unusual for a golfer to come here on his first visit and win an Open Championship.
BEN CURTIS: Well, definitely. Yeah, I mean, you look back on it and you kind of have to pinch yourself every now and then to realise that, hey, I won the biggest tournament in the world on the first try. That just doesn't happen. It's just weird that it happened to me. So I was very fortunate. I just had a great attitude that week. To be honest I was just happy to be there.

Q. Tell me, are you a better player now on a links course than you were then?
BEN CURTIS: Oh, yeah, definitely, definitely. Just having 20, 30 more rounds under my belt, obviously it makes it better.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Ben, thank you very much for coming in.

End of FastScripts

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