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Curtis Talks about Ending Drought
Ben Curtis waited nearly six years to get his fourth victory on the PGA Tour. But the 34-year-old Ohioan finally got it, overcoming a stellar field and a tough AT&T Oaks course at TPC San Antonio to win the Valero Texas Open.
Sunday's victory, worth $1.116 million and 500 FedEx Cup points, also gave Curtis - who was playing this year on limited status - a two-year Tour exemption.
After accepting the winner's check and hardware, he met with reporters for the following interview session.
MODERATOR: All right. Ben, you really don't need much of an introduction. You've spent as much time in here this week as you have on the golf course. We'd like to welcome the 201 Valero Texas Open Champion, Ben Curtis. Congratulations. It was a great, great week and I know victory was a long time coming, your first within win in six years. With the win you pick up 500 FedEx Cup points and get yourself up to number 28 and, finally, your win comes in your first Valero Texas Open start. So, lot of things for you to comment on. We'll turn it over to you with that.
BEN CURTIS: Well, yeah. I mean obviously coming into this week I was just trying to play well and, you know, I haven't played much over here this year, my fourth start but, really my -- only my second event in four, five weeks. So just wanted to get the rust off and got off to a great start on Thursday and, you know, the next thing you know you're in contention and it's a whole other ballgame. Happy to be here. I wish I would have been here before this (laughter). But, it's a great golf course. It's just a very tough golf course and you got to do everything correctly and I just -- I had a lot of fun this week playing. It's in great shape and anytime you have that combo, you know, lot of times you can bring your game back from nowhere and that's what happened this week.
MODERATOR: With that we'll take some questions.
Q. Ben, obviously you won before and won big tournaments before. Talk a little bit about the emotions on the 18th green.
BEN CURTIS: I mean last couple years I felt like I was so close to playing so many good tournaments and, you know, just ended up missing the cut by one or having a bad round here or there, and just haven't putted well. Finally this week, you know, every part of the game together. Been hitting it pretty well all year and finally put the short game in there as well and that was the huge difference and I think it just -- you know, all the emotions, you don't even know you have them until you go through something like that, you just -- you think you're just staying positive and not worried about it but I think deep down you realize all the hard work you put in, that, you know, it finally paid off and that's what my college coach used to say, all the time, "Keep working hard and good things will happen." He's right.
Q. On 17, talk about your short game. Kind of hit it a little thin, I guess, is one way to put it. You came back. Talk about that hole, how huge that 22-foot putt was.
BEN CURTIS: That was big. You know, the ball in the fairway was just sitting down in a old divot, maybe a week or so old. Wasn't terrible but I think at the last second I just said, "Don't hit it fat" and you know that's when I bladed it over the green. That was probably the worse place - I probably would have been better chunking it short, obviously. But, yeah, that was a huge putt. It was huge up and down. The third shot was probably the hardest shot I had all week and it was just -- I was just trying to get it down there somewhere on that right level, just give myself a good look and it was the best putt I hit all week.
Q. That swale on 17 was pretty significant. What were your options? What were you thinking about?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I mean the only other option I could have had was hit it high, up and over. I think that would have just - too much for error there. I figured I kept it on the ground. I thought worse case it would get - if I got it up to the top of the hill, roll to the right and then just maybe not be on the right level but at least would have been on the green. But, you know, it was probably the best shot I hit all week. I hit it right where I was looking and just, obviously just a hair hard but I was just trying to get it down there where I had a good look at it.
Q. Was the putt pretty straightforward?
BEN CURTIS: Yeah. It was maybe couple balls out left, maybe a little bit more. I just remember looking and just kind of getting the ball to the hole the previous six, seven holes, so just made sure I hit a good stroke and as soon as I hit it I felt like I hit a good putt and about 8 feet away I knew it was in.
Q. The greens kind of won the day really if you look back, Every missed I don't know how many putts on the backside, John had the little horseshoe on 15. You didn't see the other guys but miss after miss. Can you talk about these greens and how diabolical they were did?
BEN CURTIS: They're quicker today, I felt. So they were just breaking a lot more than they had been and then also, you know, with everything going towards the City, maybe where they had the pins today that wasn't necessarily the case. But they were just -- I thought they were hard to read overall. I hit a putt on 12 I thought it was going to break left and it kind of snuck to the right. It's just that type of day. It was just hard to get yourself after awhile just to make good strokes and trust in what you read.
Q. Was there ever a time over this last six years when you thought you wouldn't be in here again?
BEN CURTIS: Well, I mean you always have that thought, maybe, going through your head but you try to think that that's not the case; that, you know, if you work hard good things will happen and it's so tough to win out here. It's my 10th year I think on Tour. Playing here, right? 2003 my first year. If you had a good year you would win -- when you come out here and win one, well, if I win one every year I have a great career. That would be true. But, you know, if you get to three, four, five wins you're a solid player. I just felt like, yeah, you get yourself in contention and just have that belief, anything can happen.
Q. It's almost like this last six years prepared you for a golf course like this, you know. You battled -- you had to the two doubles yesterday and kept bouncing back.
BEN CURTIS: I love hard golf courses. I love it when par is premium. Everywhere I've won I felt like -- Booz Allen we shot some low scores. You still had to hit good shots and the ball was rolling in the fairways and quite firm until we had all that rain. I just love courses that set-up that way where you got to control your distance not only in the air but also on the ground.
Q. You kind of talked about this earlier in the week, so this question is in that line, when you get on the plane and go home, what will it feel to look through a PGA Tour schedule and make some plans?
BEN CURTIS: I got one that will probably never go away, the British Open. This one is going, it's never going away, either.
Q. But just short-term looking at this year.
BEN CURTIS: I got a place to come back and defend for next year and come back for the next eight years now, I guess, right?
BEN CURTIS: Valero stepped up to 2018. It's going to be fun coming back here for a long time, hopefully.
Q. Where do you go from here?
BEN CURTIS: I'm going the play New Orleans next week.
Q. Along the lines of what Ron was just talking about, you said earlier this week, you talked about there's not a whole lot, up don't get too rattled by things, pretty laid back. Do you feel like temperament-wise and everything, especially coming down the stretch today, that you were made for this kind of golf course, a brutal golf course with your temperament?
BEN CURTIS: It helps for a guy that, you know, doesn't get rattled by too much and knowing that you walk off a par 5, 14, didn't make birdie but at the end of the day you didn't really lose anything. The group in front of us we saw all missed short putts and so you just know that it plays very difficult and you just got to stay positive. I think the guys that stay positive all the time and don't let a bad break here and there affect them, will do well here and I think if you look at the guys that were up in the leaderboard, they're all those type players. They just play solid golf. They don't let bad conditions, bad draw or a bad lie get to them.
Q. When you look again, when you talk about the two doubles, what you had to do on 8 yesterday playing up No. 2, have you ever had a tournament where you've had this kind of result or a positive result where you've had this many crazy things happen along the way that you had to fight to get to a championship?
BEN CURTIS: Other than Booz Allen playing until Tuesday afternoon, it felt like, yeah, it was probably one of those there was a lot of up and downs. Probably a lot more than any other event. Just I mean just being there for four days in a row, too. Booz Allen was kind of similar. 84 Lumber, I can't remember, it was kind of a blur because my wife was nine months pregnant at the time but I remember -- I don't know if I was near the lead all week or if it just came up on Saturday, Sunday but here being close to the lead all week or in the lead from at least mid point Friday on, you know, it takes a lot out of you and you just got to stay focused and not think about lifting the heavy trophy up before you actually do it. You know, it's one of those courses that you're not going to win it on Thursday but you can definitely lose it on Sunday morning.
Q. You're going to play 50 weeks here again next year because they're moving it to the week before the Masters. Been asking everybody this week, what kind impact is that do you think for this event going from two weeks after to a week before?
BEN CURTIS: It will be huge. Not so much maybe for the guys that just focus on this Tour but I think where you'll see some influence, maybe some of the guys that want to play before Augusta, the week before, some of the International guys and you know, Phil, he's always said he likes to play the week before but, you know, I can't say what other guys are going to do or who's going to commit but I would think it's going to boost the field significantly in the next -- you know, next year especially.
MODERATOR: We had John Huh in here before you. You talked about you can't win it on Thursday but you can lose it. He goes out and shoots a 44 on Thursday and comes back and finishes tied for 2nd.
BEN CURTIS: Some finish. I think every other player in the field would have been done by then but obviously must have made a few birdies on the back-9 and just gave him a little bit of confidence. That's some accomplishment, though.
Q. He was 16 under his last 64 holes.
BEN CURTIS: That's pretty impressive on this course.
MODERATOR: Okay. Ben Curtis, 2012 Valero Texas Open champion. Congratulations.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.