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March 27, 2010

Ben Curtis


DOUG MILNE: Ben Curtis, thanks for joining us again for a few minutes after a 2-under 70 in round three of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Nice par save there on 18, that's got to leave you with a good feeling as you head into tonight. You're in great position as you start tomorrow, just one stroke back. Just a few comments and then we'll take questions.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, it played extremely tough out there and I made a lot of good putts, and that was one of the reasons why I shot what I did. I hit some good shots in there, as well. For the most part, I'm just pleased. You know that last putt on 18, that was big. You always want the momentum going forward at the end of the day and hopefully making a par on 18 seems that way.

Q. What happened with the tee shot on 17?
BEN CURTIS: Well, you know, it's just the one place you can't miss it is right. The last thought in my head was -- I was just trying to hold something up against the wind and actually pulled it a little bit and it went pretty straight and the wind just grabbed it.

Q. These weeks when your game is where it is right now, you know, you're playing with the big boys, whatever the case may be, do you see it coming, or does it just pop up sometimes out of left field? Because you go through long periods where --
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I mean, I'm a slow starter to the season, always have been, and it seems like this is a week where there's times in the past where I've played pretty well here. And there's sometimes where I haven't.
But, yeah, you can kind of see it coming. At the Honda, just couldn't -- I just had not putted good all year, and that's the difference between -- I mean, today, if I had putted average, I'd shoot 3- or 4-over, but I putted really good. That's the reason why I shot what I did.
But yeah, it's one of those things that I just worked hard the last two weeks. Had my coach come in. I felt like I was close. It's just one of those things that I've just got to trust what I've been working on and just go with it and not really think about it too much.
That's been the difference this week.

Q. Did you have any thoughts of the green from the bunker on 16 -- why are you laughing?
BEN CURTIS: I was just trying to hit it on my third shot. (Chuckling) No, there was no chance. It was one of those things, it was almost I felt like because the wind, how hard it was blowing, it was almost one of those things that I was almost happy that it went in the bunker off the tee just because I didn't have to give myself the opportunity to think about going for it and just lay up and hit a wedge to inside ten feet. That was my plan, and give myself a good chance for birdie. Just didn't happen that way. I guess that's what I get for being too cautious.

Q. What did you do on the shot? Blade it?
BEN CURTIS: It was sitting down a little bit, and the last thing I thought was, "Don't chunk it."

Q. Did you think too much today?
BEN CURTIS: No, not really. Just on that shot right there.

Q. A few thoughts maybe on who you're going to play with tomorrow; Ernie has been playing very well, he's on a little bit of a run.
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I mean, I talked to him, actually on Wednesday at home at Lake Nona in the gym, and, yeah, he said he's playing good. So obviously won a couple of weeks ago. Did he play Tampa? He's playing really well right now.
He said he was playing good, so when he says that, you know he's playing pretty good.

Q. Can you talk a little bit, too, about your ability to kind of raise your game on harder courses? I think we know that most of success has come on courses where they are a little tougher than the average?
BEN CURTIS: I like to think around the golf course, and, you know, especially around the greens and hitting different shots. It's not always 155 yards and hitting 8-iron and going right at if and then the ball hits and sort of stops. You have to think about it; you can hit a 9-iron or maybe hit a 7-iron. Like today, there was a few shots that I was just playing it safe to be honest with you. Just getting it to the middle to the back of the green and take my chances with the putts.
You know, that's what you've got to do on hard courses. You've got to be smart and you can't be over-aggressive. But take advantage of it when you can. And then, you know, I like fast greens, so the faster the better for me.

Q. Were you playing it safe on 11 or was that a bit of a risk?
BEN CURTIS: A little bit of a risk, but I took an extra club, you know, it was one of those I was hoping it would come out the way it did, and it did.

Q. You've been in contention successfully and sometimes not successfully; what have you learned about yourself playing when you have a chance on Sunday that might help you tomorrow?
BEN CURTIS: Play my game. Don't worry about what Ernie does. I mean, I can shoot even par, 1-over and win the tournament, or I can shoot 3-under, 4-under and lose.
It doesn't matter what he does or what anybody else does. It's just I've got to go out there and play my game and be smart and take advantage of some opportunities if they come. But that's the biggest thing you can learn. You watch all of the great players, they play their own game. With three or four holes left, you put yourself in that position where you can win the tournament, then you've got -- then you can start adjusting then.
But, you know, you don't want to start on hole one -- Ernie is not going to start out hole one just hit it in the fairway, hit it on the green and 2-putt. He's going to go out and hit birdies, so I and everybody else has to go out and do the same.

Q. Have you established your own giving process, as in your own foundation to grow the game of golf, or a cause?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah, I've done a lot of stuff in the past with children back home in Cleveland area, Ronald McDonald House and Boys & Girls, and Diabetes (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) is one of our big charities.

Q. The bogey at 17, we were down there just before the grandstands, and the wind was howling, but because the flag may have been sheltered, I noticed you went left; how much did you account for the wind, because you and DJ both went left, like you didn't really think there was that much wind?
BEN CURTIS: Well, we knew it was there. We knew what was right, too.
You know, you could get up-and-down from the left-hand side. The right, there's no chance of getting up-and-down. So, you know, it was just tough to figure out if the wind was into or actually kind of helping or just straight across, because it kind of -- you're back there and it kind of feels like, well, it's into, and then all of the sudden, it feels like it's down, but you knew it was off the right.
I was just aiming middle of green, and I was trying to hold it up on left side of the green and just pulled it a little bit. It wasn't that difficult of a chip. I made it look difficult but really wasn't.

Q. When you are going through one of these stretches of play where you're not contending, missing cuts and whatnot; do you look at that philosophically by this stage of your career, and say, you have to go through that to get to the good weeks, or is it a constant struggle to try to get rid of those long stretches?
BEN CURTIS: Well, last year I think I missed three cuts or four. In '08 I think I only missed one. And then this year, just struggled a bit coming out of the gate. You know it's going to happen. Everybody goes through it. Everybody is at a different level. Tiger struggles and he doesn't finish in the Top-10 for two or three weeks, and everybody else may be misses cuts or they find a way to make the cut and just kind of struggle towards the back end.
Yeah, you've just going to go through it. Sometimes it's not a bad thing because it gets you refocused and thinking about what you really need to work on. When you're playing good all the time, I would find you can get too relaxed.
DOUG MILNE: Ben, thanks for your time and best of luck tomorrow.

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