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March 11, 2009

Paul Casey


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Paul Casey, thanks for joining us, playing in your sixth CA Championship this week, and in good form after finishing runner-up at the Accenture Match Play Championship a few weeks ago.
Maybe some opening comments about coming back to Doral where you've had a couple of Top-10s at this event. Maybe some opening comments.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, this is a golf course I really like, actually. It's a tough golf course, but I get along with it very well. I guess I'm in good form. I've played some great golf so far this year and would like to continue that form this week. It's an exceptional field, and it would be nice to improve on a couple of Top-10s that I've had. I feel if I play good golf that maybe I've got a chance by the end of the week, but we'll see; it's a long way to go.

Q. This group of English golfers out there right now, obviously accounted for itself very well at the Match Play, and seven of you are going to Augusta. Do you feel this is about the deepest group top to bottom that you all have had in a while?
PAUL CASEY: It's certainly the deepest group that I've been part of, shall we say, since I've been on TOUR, best way to put it. It wasn't that long ago that I was fielding questions as to why there are only two Englishmen in the Top-100 in the world. I think it was probably myself and Luke or Justin or something like that, at one stage, I don't know how many years ago that was.
I always thought that not just the talent, but the hard work was there from the guys, from all of us. So I feel very lucky to be part of that group. But that group also pushes me on, because it's a tough group, as well. You know, I don't know where everybody is in the rankings, but European golf in general is very, very strong.
So I feel great that we have got a whole wave sort of coming through. It's nice to be part of that.

Q. There's going to be -- another Masters-related question, kind of. There's going to be a lot of attention on the three teenagers playing there this year. All of them have had success already. I wonder why you personally decided to go the college route, which is I guess against the English grain, which is usually to turn pro asap, earn your stripes, and proceed accordingly.
PAUL CASEY: I have a long answer to -- well, I could give you a very long answer.

Q. We've got time.
PAUL CASEY: I admit that I didn't know much about college golf when I was sort of at the age to make the decision about what to do next after school. And I took a year and a half out before I went to college in the States. Part of that was because I didn't know very much about it; was naïve, and part of it was because I thought the way to progress, shall we say, was stay at home and get a job. You know, I had a bar job in the evenings trying to make money playing golf during the day. Did I want to go work in a pro shop? Didn't know; I just didn't know the route.
It wasn't until I was approached by a couple of coaches playing some amateur golf in the U.K. that said, well, we'd like you to come over and maybe play some college golf. And I thought, well, maybe there's an option. I felt very lucky to eventually end up at ASU, which is a long story, which we won't get into.
But there were a few friends of mine who had played college golf. One of them said that Scottsdale was the greatest place he had ever been, which eventually I got the chance to visit it; I could see why, for the golf, the weather and all of the other assets. (Laughter) What? I said assets.
It's a tricky one. There had not been many guys previous to when I made that decision that had gone the college route that I knew. I don't know, I think now it's kind of the norm, shall we say, it's the accepted route, but it's by no means the only route. Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, two very good men who did not go the college route. They got to this stage on very different paths.
I wouldn't change the path I made; nor, would I suggest that the college route, you have to do it. It's not for everybody. For me, it's the perfect route, and I doubt I would be sitting here if I didn't do it.

Q. Again, with that group of you guys, at Augusta, four or five of you have really played well there, and have had good scores, clearly know how to play the golf course. What do you think it is that might be the one ingredient that's missing from making the leap to being at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, and is there sort of a competition amongst you guys to be the first guy to join Nick Faldo as an Englishman to win at Augusta?
PAUL CASEY: Well, I think there's an urgency from all of the British players, not necessarily just the English guys; I think every British player, to be the first guy to have that major victory, because we have not had a British -- obviously Padraig has been doing great stuff recently. But an Englishman to sort of follow in Nick Faldo's footsteps, shall we say, would be huge.
I don't notice an internal race. I think everybody would love to be the first guy to do that.
What was the first part of the question?

Q. You guys have all played very well there.
PAUL CASEY: What's the difference? Well, it's difficult for me to speak for the other guys. But for me personally, probably my biggest thing is being comfortable. You know, I feel like I've got the shots to get around Augusta. I've clearly played some very good rounds of golf around there.
I love the golf course. I think it sets up beautifully for my game. I think I've got a way of getting around it. I've put myself in a good position probably a couple of times back in 2004. You know, for me, I didn't have enough experience. It was great playing with Langer in the final round in the penultimate group. I just didn't have it to sort of get up there and challenge Phil and Ernie coming down the stretch.
I was very disappointed with the first nine holes that I sort of played last year. A little bit of that was the ball moving on the sixth green threw me. That was really sort of a kick in the guts.
But having said that, I actually did play a very good back nine to sort of grind it out, because it was all falling apart after about nine holes.
So, you know, I know going back there this year than I will be more comfortable than I was last year, and that's all I can do is try to build up that comfort level. I know the golf game is in there but it will take something to make the final leap.

Q. Did you have a penalty stroke on 6?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, hit a good shot and hit a bunker shot to two, 2 1/2 feet, not even, addressed it, ground the ball to the club, ball rolled off it's axis, and I backed off. Nobody saw it, but the ball moved. Good four. (Laughter).

Q. Four with an asterisk. I wasn't going to ask you this, but you sort of segued right into it. Obviously that golf course being as hard as it is, you throw in a little bit of weather, and it becomes almost unendurable. Has it gotten to the --
PAUL CASEY: Unendurable?

Q. Unplayable.
PAUL CASEY: It's difficult. (Smiling).

Q. Is it to the point now where it's been ratcheted up so high that where the slightest little variable, whether it rains, something like that, kind of pushes it over the edge to where it's hard to get around? We are talking specifically about the last two Sundays where I think Trevor won last year with a 75, which was not a 65, as they have had in years past.
PAUL CASEY: I think every major championship plays a fine line with golf course setup, and they have to; it's meant to be the ultimate test.
I think Augusta do a brilliant job of being very clever and making it extremely difficult and trying to keep it fair. They like to reward great golf shots. Good golf shots are good golf shots but they don't necessarily mean you should make a birdie.
So they are very aware. Billy pain has a great grasp of what's going on and what the players are thinking. Admittedly, with the weather the past couple of years, and the way Augusta is set up with just the members' tee and the tournament tee, the championship tee, you know, on certain holes, maybe they have not had the ability to play around with golf course setup; length being a prime example.
11 played extremely long. I hit 2-iron in there and came up short after hitting a very good drive. That's not what I remember seeing on TV as a kid growing up, guys hitting 2-iron into that hole.
But they are very aware of that, and every year they make some small changes. I've never walked away from there going, this is unfair. I always walk away from there going, this is unbelievably difficult. Yes, it can be frustrating, but I love the challenge, and I love the golf course.

Q. Can I ask you an equipment question? You went from the West Coast thin air to Florida with the grainy grass; did you make any changes on your bag? And do you anticipate making any changes in your set for Augusta?
PAUL CASEY: I went from the Middle East to Arizona to a week off to Australia, went back to Arizona, and now to Florida and I haven't made any changes. I'm probably concerned about where the golf ball is going every week and the distance it's going. I haven't made any changes and I love the setup I have on my bag.
I felt very comfortable two weeks ago in Arizona and I know how far the golf ball goes in that heat and the altitude and I just played nine holes this morning and it was interesting. I'm going to have to adapt quickly; I'll be fine by the time we tee off tomorrow. I hit a couple of very good 8-irons this morning that were 160 yards, and that would have been 180 two weeks ago.
So it's just a change mentally. And a little bit visually. You stand there and think, yeah, I can get this club there but in the heavy air, you can't. I know we have different grasses this week with the bermudarough, but I feel very comfortable with this set.

Q. Anything for Augusta you might consider?
PAUL CASEY: The only change for Augusta I've made in the past has been a strong 3-wood, and I'll do the same this year. I tend not to work the driver too much. For me, a driver is a club, I pick the target and bash it straight. Part of that is the golf ball, part of that is the driver.
So I like to go with a 3-wood. I find it much more -- I mean, myself, much more comfortable to turn a 3-wood, hook it from right-to-left. I've put a long 3-wood in, and that is a great club on a lot of holes around there: 9, 10, 13, 14.

Q. A long 3-wood versus a regular 3-wood?
PAUL CASEY: (Nodding).

Q. Just going back to what you were saying about Augusta, what's it like for a rookie there, and given your jealousy, as you said, of Rory McIlroy, what chances do you think he has of contending in his first Masters?
PAUL CASEY: I think he's got a great chance of competing. I think he will compete there.
I played with Rory probably -- at least two years ago when he was still amateur in a practice round down in Australia, Huntingdale. I was asked by Nike to play with him and a couple others, Oli Fisher and Jason Day. I thought Rory was the best player I've ever seen at that age.
I think we will compete. He's very comfortable being out here. He has the game to get around that golf course. He has the support. Yeah, he has it all. I would be very surprised if he didn't, I would say compete. I would expect him to be top 20 or something like that. It's a difficult golf course to learn, knowing it.
I played very well my first year. Sometimes not knowing the golf course that well can be a slight advantage, because you're not aware of some of the dangers around there. It's a Catch 22.
So if he didn't know too much, maybe that's sort of, I don't want to say naïve, but that lack of knowledge will assist him. Or, you want to be the other way, and know it all, because if you know it all, then you're not scared. But I think he can do very well.

Q. Is it possible Harrington is not getting enough due, when we are talking about another Irish guy here, and there's only one guy that's got a chance to win the wraparound Grand Slam from last year. He's not on real good form right now; it seems like maybe Tiger is coming back, and all of these other things are going on and he's not getting a lot of looks.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, maybe that will be -- he'll sneak under the radar. I'd still put money on Padraig. I don't think you should read anything into a couple of missed cuts from him early in the season. I mean, it's very early. I'm sure he's not particularly worried. I'm sure he's working harder than ever.
I think we should be worried.

Q. You've played an awful lot of international golf and last week we had Y.E. Yang win. What should we expect in terms of players coming out of Asia?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, could be some phenomenal talent coming out of Asia. It changes so quickly. I mean, as I said before, we had two Englishmen in the Top-100 a few years ago, and now we've got a bunch. I wouldn't be surprised if we have a whole bunch of Asians, especially the Koreans. I think his golf is phenomenal. I saw what he did at HSBC, taking Tiger down the stretch there. When I saw him at the top of the leaderboard early in the week at Honda, I thought he was going to hang around all week, and he did. I thought it was a very, very impressive display.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Paul Casey, thank you and good luck this week.

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