What they said: Ben Curtis

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April 20, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Valero Texas Open transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: Okay. Ben Curtis, thanks for joining us for a few minute after Round 2 of the Valero Texas Open.

On 5-under, 67 wasn't good enough, you repeat it in Round 2. Obviously, you've got things going. This is your first Valero Texas Open, isn't it? Obviously going well for you.

Just some comments on today's round and how you're feeling as you kind of get set to head into the weekend.

BEN CURTIS: Well, playing obviously really well. You know, the key around here is if you can drive it straight, keep it in the fairway, give yourself a chance to get at some of these pins, you know, with the slope of the greens and stuff like that, it makes it a lot easier from the fairway. I did that.

Hit a lot of good iron shots. Left them, for the most part, on the right level and made a few putts and, you know, it was a pretty easy Round 2.

You hate to say that but I mean I didn't -- even when I missed the green, there was no terribly difficult up and down. All pretty straightforward.

So, played well. Every part of the game was good. You know, you wish you could have something to say about it afterwards, didn't do this or that. I missed a couple short, maybe three, four birdie putts that I should have made inside ten feet but other than that, I'm not going to complain and, you know, the course is in great shape and greens are fantastic, rolling really good and there's a lot of slope to them.

It doesn't mean they're bad. It just means they're tough.

DOUG MILNE: With that, we'll take some questions.

Q. I guess yesterday the scoring average in the field was close to 74. You know, as a player when you come into rounds like that and you know the course is playing a certain level, do you find yourself saying I just got to make sure I hover around somewhere, you know??

BEN CURTIS: Well, I think it depends on how you're playing. Obviously I started off, played pretty solid, made a few birdies and got to 4-under at the turn. You get in the groove, you're trying to go low. You're not really thinking about what, even today, what the cut is or, you know, what's a good score, what's not. You know, I think you have a pretty good idea starting out.

You see the 9-under before you tee off is basically -- shows you it can be down. You got to play really well. It's a hard golf course.

You just got to, you know, go out there knowing that you're going to make bogies, you're going to make mistakes. You got to stay positive and, you know, even I hit a couple bad shots today but just kept my mind in the positive matter and just kept going.

Q. From what I can tell, you haven't played a lot this year and probably not the level that you wanted. What's the key, what's turned it around this week??

BEN CURTIS: Putting. Houston I hit it -- we played 36 holes on Friday and I hit 30 out of 36 greens and shoot 1-over and just putted like a blind man. Couldn't find it. I hit a lot of good putts, just nothing went in.

And then the last couple of weeks just worked on -- you know changed my grip a little bit and just seemed to -- seems to have been working so far and we'll see how it goes over the weekend but, yeah, you know, when you don't -- you're not playing the schedule that you want, you don't have it all laid out in front of you before the year starts, you kind of playing when you can and -- it's hard. You got to keep working on the game and when you get in, take advantage of it.

Q. It's so easy for the a lot of guys to go to the belly putter. Did you consider that??

BEN CURTIS: No.

Q. Why not??

BEN CURTIS: I've hit a few putts with them and -- there's no way I would -- take it over to the golf course. It's not a comfortable feeling. I've never felt -- my stats may not agree with what I'm saying but I've always felt, even when I putt bad, you know, at least my speed has been good and stuff like that.

Usually when guys switch, you know, speed might be an issue but, you know, for the most part just getting comfortable with it and going for it.

Q. How did you change your grip??

BEN CURTIS: I just moved my right hand a little bit more on top of the club line and seemed to have worked. Last few years I think I've gotten more and more underneath the shaft and kind of gone back to the way I used to play.

Q. How is the schedule you played this year been an adjustment for you??

BEN CURTIS: Well, I mean, you know, every other year played -- since '03, you know, pretty much had it laid out before the year started and -- but this year, you know, the status that I have, I went to Europe for three weeks early in the year, played over there and then just tried to get in some events over here, you know. Hopefully get in a few more after this week.

Well, hopefully go out there and win and take care of business. But, you know, it's a little bit more different. You got to adjust to it, you know, mentally but just been -- when I've been home, trying to practice as much as I can. If I get the call, the Thursday, Friday before, I'm ready to go.

Q. That's a new situation that you're in. How do you feel like it personally just being in that situation now??

BEN CURTIS: You know, it doesn't really bother me. Just go out there. You know, I never really -- I don't really stress over it, you know, not really too focused on it.

I'll get my starts. 12 to 15 before the year started would be a minimum. And so I just try to focus on those 12 or 15 tournaments I get in there, I got to play well.

Q. You have full status in Europe??

BEN CURTIS: Yeah.

Q. This course in particular coming into it, had you heard much about AT&T Oaks heading to San Antonio??

BEN CURTIS: I heard it was tough. That's the only thing I heard. Then when I got here on Monday, I heard about, you know, how slopy the greens were and how difficult they were but, yeah, when I played on Tuesday, it just seemed like -- it's just a solid, hard golf course. I mean nothing around it. You got to hit good shots.

The wind can be a big factor here on this course but, you know, for the most part, the Tour does a good job setting it up and makes it playable.

Q. Sounds like you're happy with your ball striking. Where is it now compared to '06, '03??

BEN CURTIS: It's about right there. It's right there. It's probably better than it was in '03, to be honest.

But, you know, '06 was a good year and then the last few years have been a bit of a struggle. But lot of it had to do with short game, you know, and I just wasn't real confident with iron shots so forcing myself to try to hit really good shots and it made my hitting look worse than it actually was.

When you have confidence with the putter you're not afraid to hit it to 30 feet and knowing the worse case you're going to walk off with a par. With the greens like they are here, you hit it on the right line with good speed they're going to go in because they roll so true. They're really good surfaces to putt on.

Q. Have you had a source of encouragement with this transition -- I don't know if that's the right word -- but the way things are going now, do you have a source of encouragement at home or somewhere to say, "Hey, stick with it"??

BEN CURTIS: Yeah. Just listen to my wife every day, "It will be fine, it will be fine." Then you got two young kids running around the house that don't have a care in the world. So that makes it easier "laughter".

But, yeah, you know, just I think being at home, being relaxed, being around people, you know, family, friends that you want to be around make you feel that way is the easiest thing you can do and everybody knows me, knows that I don't stress about much.

If you see me stressing it's probably over nothing, too. I usually sweat the small stuff and the big stuff I don't really worry about.

Q. I know golfers are the best weathermen sometimes. You really pay attention to the conditions.

Now with this line of whatever maybe coming through, if it does rain pretty good for 30 minutes, whatever, have you, having been on this course for a couple days, what do you think that means as far as the conditions??

BEN CURTIS: The greens will get softer so it will play longer but get softer so, you know, like Houston it rained on Thursday night or Thursday afternoon and it got really soft and the ball wasn't rolling. Even it's a monster golf course, 7600 yards, whatever it may be. The scores were relatively low because the greens were soft and taking the shots. Wherever the ball ended up, that's where it landed.

So, you know -- but here, the greens are a little bit more slopy. You might have to be careful with the ball spinning moreso than anything else, but I don't see -- I don't think it's going to rain too, too much and I don't see it being a big change from the weather we played last two days. Might be a bit softer but --

Q. And the wind turning around??

BEN CURTIS: I heard it's going to start blowing from the north for two days. We played it on Tuesday in the practice round. You know, you'll have some easy holes and some really hard holes because of that.

Q. You got off to a good start earlier. Any standout shots that really got you in the groove??

BEN CURTIS: Well, yeah. I mean I hit a good drive on 11. I hit a poor wedge and kind of hit in the bank and spun off the green and chipped that.

The next hole I hit a 9-iron to four, five feet, and then the next two holes I made a couple of good par saving putts of six to eight feet and that just kind of relaxed me and got me going.

DOUG MILNE: All right. Well, you did just get it in. I heard that they blew the horn at 1:15. Thanks for your time.

BEN CURTIS: Thank you.

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