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March 26, 2010

Ben Curtis


DOUG MILNE: Ben Curtis, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a second round 5-under par 67 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. You got off to a bumpy start with back-to-back bogeys, but then you righted the ship with seven birdies and no more bogeys.
Just a few comments on the round. You're still right at the top of the leaderboard, and see how that shakes down as the day goes on, but you have to feel good about where you are.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I do. You know, I played well, shaky start, like you said. But felt pretty good and I've been struggling with the swing the last few weeks and I had not putted good all year.
So it was nice to see a few putts go in. I made a couple of long putts, and you know, I hit some good wedges pretty close to the hole, but other than that, mid-irons were pretty average, and made a few long putts which was the difference from maybe shooting 1- or 2-under to 5-under.

Q. What did you do to get out of the funk with the ball-striking and the putting; anything specific?
BEN CURTIS: Just a few things that I've been working on all year. Just getting more comfortable with it. Took two weeks off and practiced pretty hard. With the putting, it was more setup than it was a stroke. Golf swing, it was just trying to feel comfortable and confident with what you're doing. Made a few changes that, you know, just once I got over it, I just didn't really trust it or feel good over it. So just didn't make good, solid swings. You know, the last few days it's been working really hard to just kind of have -- not no fear but kind of swing away and go find it again instead of try to steer it.

Q. So you kind of needed some technique improvement so you could have mental confidence?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it was -- the putting more than anything, I mean, just really struggled with the putting all year just to get the setup a little bit better and to feel where I can feel like I could make some putts. Just there for a while, I didn't feel like I could make anything. That's not a good feeling to have.

Q. This morning's conditions seemed to be a little bit easier, is that the case with it being wet?
BEN CURTIS: It was pretty breezy this morning. I felt like as the day went on it was dying down a bit. Especially, you know, it's always windy around 5, 6, 7 in there, but it felt like it was the strongest all day. You get on the back side, you find shelter with all of the homes and stuff and you're not really out in the open as much.
I felt, yeah, obviously the greens were a bit softer than they were yesterday afternoon. So that made it a little bit more appealing, especially when you had a 5- or 6-iron in your hand.

Q. What was kind of your mind-set coming off 2 after the bogey, bogey start and did you have to really kind of tell yourself, no, this is not going to go the wrong way today?
BEN CURTIS: I hit the fairway on 3 and the pin was on that back left, and you know, the wind is howling off the water and it was just like, all right, just get it on the green somewhere and make a par and move on.
You know, once I made a few good swings after that, it just got the confidence going. I mean, the first hole, that feet I think and left it six feet short and missed that one. It was the putting on the first hole; and second hole, hit a bad shot. Actually hit a decent bunker shot to eight, ten feet and hit a decent putt, but just didn't go in.
Yeah, it was one of those things that I knew if I just stayed patient, there's going to be some birdies out there, especially with the four par 5s. You know, you just keep the ball in play and get a wedge in your hand, I'll feel pretty good with wedges righted now, so that makes a huge difference.

Q. Is the course tougher or easier since last year and what do you think of the changes?
BEN CURTIS: I think the changes are good. I think overall it's not as tough around the green as it was in the past, because you have more of the chipping areas, so you have a lot more variety. Whereas before, we were talking about it today, like 6, if you used to hit it long past the pin in two, it was an impossible up-and-down.
But now you have the chipping area down there and you have the short grass and you can control it and spin it, and actually made it a little bit easier in that regard. But I think the changes are good. It looks better. In a couple of years when the course -- as greens mature and stuff, it's still going to play difficult.
It's still not going to be an easy golf course. But I think it just allows you to see a lot more shots into the greens and around the greens that you didn't have before.

Q. Did you beat Tiger last week?
BEN CURTIS: It was close. I mean, he was a bit rusty. (Laughter).

Q. How did that come about?
BEN CURTIS: I was just over there with Steve just practicing and Hank was there, and Steve works for Hank. And he came over to us and just said, "Do you want to go hit some balls." And we hit some balls for a little bit and then said, let's go play.

Q. What did you shoot?
BEN CURTIS: Have you been to Isleworth?

Q. Yeah.
BEN CURTIS: It's too hard, that course. Too hard for me. It's all right for him; he can carry everything. Hit in too many bunkers off the tees.

Q. Seriously, I'm kind of curious because it's one question a lot of guys are getting as they go to the Masters and getting beyond, will there be any awkwardness seeing him for the first time, talking to him for the first time; was that okay or was it at all awkward, or what do you do?
BEN CURTIS: I mean, everybody that tells you that it was the same as before would be kidding themselves. But I mean it was obviously a little bit different. When I saw him -- no one's actually really seen him in public. It was a little bit different. But I mean, you know, I didn't know him that well before, anyway. But I could see where some of the guys that might have known him pretty well, Mike Mark O'Meara and stuff that knew him pretty well, it might be a little bit different for them now than it was before. But I don't know. That's hard to say. I mean, I try to just treat it as we are just going out there and playing golf and just having some fun. He was testing his game. I was testing my game.

Q. He does know you won the Open though, right?
BEN CURTIS: He does, yeah. (Laughter) he said I made everything, but I only made one putt I think in two days, or that one day I was there. He seems to think I make everything, but he hasn't seen me put all year, either. (Laughter).
DOUG MILNE: Well, Ben, we appreciate your time. Best of luck on the weekend.

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