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April 26 2012

8:06 PM

Curtis makes debut a solid one

Interview: Ben Curtis

Following his opening-round 67, Ben Curtis talks about his play in the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans with Bob Stevens from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

AVONDALE, La. -- The windswept 67 was nothing if not solid. But Ben Curtis' round of 5 under was even more impressive considering he had never played TPC Louisiana before Thursday's first round of the Zurich Classic.

Curtis, who is riding the momentum of Sunday's win at the Valero Texas Open, had only played in New Orleans once prior to this week. But that tournament in 2003, where Curtis finished next-to-last, was played at English Turn Golf & Country Club.

The affable gentleman from Ohio got to TPC Louisiana late Tuesday and dropped his clubs off. Curtis wasn't in the pro-am on Wednesday so he passed the time practicing and found that he was still hitting the ball as well as he did at that other TPC in San Antonio last week as he ended a six-year victory drought.

"It's just great to get back out here and play," Curtis said. "Didn't get a chance to play the course before the tournament. Just felt like I was comfortable where my game was, obviously; …  just felt like I just go out there and see what happens this week and just play stress-free."

Curtis started on the back nine Thursday and turned in 33. He gave one shot back at the par-3 third but made three more birdies over his last six holes to post the 67 that left him two strokes off the lead.

"Obviously you want to play well every time you tee it off," Curtis said. "Yesterday I was practicing and still hitting it good and still putting well. What the heck, go out there and just be aggressive and try to shoot some good scores. It's playing a little bit tough, they moved some tees around, make it more enjoyable for us."

Battling the breezes last week in Texas might give Curtis an advantage this week, too. He said even though the wind was brisk on Thursday, the fairways seem wider and the greens bigger at TPC Louisiana.

"Didn't seem like we were hitting as many as 3 and 4-irons like we did last week into the greens," he said.

Curtis hit all but two fairways and all but two greens in the first round. He had 15 putts on each nine, too, in what he acknowledged was a "pretty stress-free" round. Three more and who knows what might happen?

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