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June 1, 2010

Ben Curtis


MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Ben Curtis to the interview room. Local guy. This Tournament has to mean a lot to you being able to play in your own back yard. If you'd talk a little bit about what the tournament and the Jack means to you, and then if you've played the course, maybe make a couple of comments about that.
BEN CURTIS: Well, I haven't played it yet. I'm going to play in a little bit after that. You know, growing up, watching Jack play, he grew up in Columbus, I grew up nearby. What an icon to have many your own back yard. Everything about this place is great. I love playing it every year. Got family and friends around. It's one of those weeks you love playing every year. There is a little bit of pressure involved, but the more times you play it, the better off you are.

Q. With respect to that -- as many times as you have been there, how would you learn to handle the week? Did you get a hotel instead of staying with relatives?
BEN CURTIS: Well, we rent a house, and it's just right across the street so it's easy. It's just easier for everybody in general. You know, less distractions. You can control who you invite over. When you're at your parents', you are at the mercy of them. But it's fine. Not that it was a big hassle. It was never a big issue, but we tried something different last year to see how it would go and it seems to be working.

Q. Hard to believe it's been seven years since St. Georges?
BEN CURTIS: It is. I mean, seems like yesterday we were just there. Obviously it is coming around the corner, playing at St. Andrews. Then next year back at St. Georges. So it's coming up fast.

Q. I don't know -- some time last year you were talking about playing in Europe more. Did that plan get scrapped?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I did it full time last year. You know, played both. This year I haven't been over there to play yet, but the plan is to play better so I can play wherever I want. Just kind of struggling right now. It seems to be coming into form somewhat. So hopefully this week will be a good week to get it going.

Q. What has been your struggles this year?
BEN CURTIS: Putting for the most part. I haven't drove it really well either. Struggled with the driver. For the most part, just the putting has been a letdown. When you putt good, it seems to free up everything else that you're doing. That's what's been keeping me back. I mean, I haven't looked at the stats, but it can't be too good, I imagine. Just the way it's been feeling and the amount of short putts I have been missing. If I get that going, hopefully it will feed for the other parts of the game.

Q. Hometown course, how familiar do you feel with it?
BEN CURTIS: Obviously this is a course that I play every year, four or five times each time I come down here in the summer. This tournament -- it's the only time I am ever really down here that much where I'm playing golf.
It's one of those courses that -- I mean, I can picture every hole in my head before I get to it, on how to play it generally how you should play it. How, you know, the greens are going to be really good, be Augusta-like, be quick. Hopefully the rain will stay away so it can firm up.

Q. How often do you play here non-tournament wise?
BEN CURTIS: Non-tournament wise, never. You know a little bit as a kid, we played every now and then. As far as the last seven years, just during the tournament week.

Q. How come?
BEN CURTIS: I'm not a big fan of going places before and -- I think you can read too much into it. Not that there is too much of a home course advantage.

Q. Do you play when you come back to visit your parents?
BEN CURTIS: No. Usually we come out just a few days, and there is no golf involved.

Q. When was the last time you played Mill Creek?
BEN CURTIS: Probably five, six years. It's been a lot little while. When I am here, I would just rather do the other stuff and see the family and friends instead of worrying about the golf.

Q. Did you come every year as a kid, I'm guessing?
BEN CURTIS: Most years. I mean, I don't think I came every year, but I would say, you know, 10 or 12 years since I was three, four, five years old I probably came until I went to college.

Q. How about a memory? Anything stand out?
BEN CURTIS: Well, you know, nothing really significant. One of the last few times I was down here must have been '95, '96, in that frame. And I think Tom Lehman was playing the top of his game. You know, to shoot what he did -- I think he shot four 67s in one tournament. That is pretty impressive around here to play that consistent. Just always -- that always kind of stuck in my mind that at the time how consistent you have got to be to win out here each week.

Q. The last time it was bone dry, is that right?
BEN CURTIS: It was dry a couple of years ago, if I'm not mistaken.

Q. You have not played in the fall or have you?
BEN CURTIS: Well, we played here in high school in the fall, but that was it.

Q. When you came to the tournament are you a guy that sits behind a green or a guy that sticks with a group? Or were you out there screaming for autographs?
BEN CURTIS: No, I didn't do that. I probably walk around more than -- we always came in behind 5 and 6 is where we always parked across the street there. Where I came in and kind of hung out there for a little bit. One of those holes that fun to watch, but then we kind of moved around and saw everything.

Q. Obviously you have got family and friends. You talked about. But being in Central Ohio, do you notice the gallery following from just fans more here or is it any different?
BEN CURTIS: I would say on average there is probably more fans here than most tournaments. You know, there is a handful of tournaments I can think of that maybe have as many fans - other than the majors - that this tournament has. You just see a lot of familiar faces more. You see guys that have come out you here year in, year out that you don't get to see all the time, but you know who they are and you get to sigh hi. That's always nice. Compared to most weeks you may see two or three people, and that's usually your wife and two kids, maybe a coach or two. That's about it.
So it's always nice to know that you have got to support to have people behind you. Hopefully one year I can get in the contention on Sunday. That would be fun.

Q. Probably in the back of your mind (indiscernible). What is it like to see a program that you really helped put on the map do well now?
BEN CURTIS: You know, it was on the map before I got there, to be honest with you. They had some solid teams before. I mean, what Herb has done is phenomenal. The drive that he still has. I see him all the time. He still wants to win just as bad today as he did in the late '70s, when he first started coaching. It's just amazing what he can do in a school like that and where he brought that program to where it is today. It's fun to see. I'm happy for Herb and the team. They got a lot of great guys, a good young team. They are going to be better next year than they are this year. Hopefully, they can get it done, play well this week and have a chance to win.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot. Good luck this week.

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