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August 4, 2009

Paul Casey


SCOTT CROCKETT: Paul, thanks for coming and joining us, and welcome to the Bridgestone Invitational. Give us your thoughts on the week. You've had a couple of good weeks here in the past, fourth two or three years ago, eighth last year. Talk about your thoughts on this week and your chances this weekend.
PAUL CASEY: This is a golf course that I love. I think it's a wonderful track. It's in spectacular shape. I played nine holes yesterday, played a few holes this morning, and as ever, the fairways are pretty tight and you've got to find those -- if you want to shoot low scores around here, put the golf ball below the hole as much as possible. The greens are going to be super-quick. I saw them double cutting and double rolling yesterday. I think they're getting them to about 13 I heard in talking to the greens staff.
It's just a great place. The staff and the clubhouse are phenomenal. This is a week I think not just myself but a lot of players really look forward to. It's a fun week around just a great golf course.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And your thoughts on your own form? You've had a fantastic first part of the season:
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, not bad, sort of wasn't great at the Open, at Turnberry. You know, baffled a bit there. It's an extremely tough golf course. I didn't necessarily have great control of the golf ball around there. Part of that was me, part of that was the elements.
But this is a stretch of golf that I'm looking forward to. I'm playing seven tournaments in nine weeks, so it's been good to have a couple of weeks off and recharge the batteries.
But they're golf courses that I enjoy. I like this one, I like Hazeltine, and it's time to sort of get the good golf going again.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Was it very much just rest the last two weeks?
PAUL CASEY: I played Charity Day in Canada with Stephen Ames and I beat him by two shots, not very charitable, and did some work with Peter, with Kostis, in his place up in Maine, Falmouth, and had a little bit of downtime just waiting for this week.

Q. Given you had such a successful start to the year and the three tournament victories, was there sort of a knock on by the time you got to Bethpage? You were world No. 3, in terms of from those victories, did it take something out of you?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I think so. Bethpage obviously was extremely tough with those conditions, and I played in some pretty ugly weather, starting off my round, and put myself a little bit behind the 8-ball just before the delay of play came I think I had already taken a few whacks in the rough going up 15, which wasn't too clever. So I was in an awkward situation anyway for my score. But I will admit I was tired. The legs had sort of gone a little bit.
You know, if I don't have -- I mean, I don't think about my swing much, but if I don't do simple things like brace my right knee, if that starts to straighten out and the hips and the legs are tired, then I don't hit the golf ball particularly well, and that's kind of what happened. I think it was a knock-on effect from the good golf, but also a lot of golf that I played early on in the season.
I haven't played a whole lot since then. I did play AT&T, was a little sick that week, and then the Open I was feeling good, just didn't really get it going. But I've had lots of time off, and I feel pretty good and pretty fresh and raring to go coming up.

Q. And this is a good place to sort of regroup and start again?
PAUL CASEY: I think so. I mean, every tournament from here on out is very, very important. You know, World Golf events are obviously a step up. That's what I've got to focus on. I've got to focus on the majors and the World Golf events. That's what I want to win, having kind of ticking the boxes of what I need to win. I've now won on the PGA TOUR and lots in Europe, but I need to continue to get better and win big events. I haven't done that yet, so I need to do that.
And then we're into FedExCup and then after that right to Dubai. So there is no opportunity to back off at this point. Every tournament is crucial.

Q. Just curious, Paul, when you first climbed to 3 in the World Rankings, did that spark any particularly amusing banter from players on the range? And more seriously, do you think that's helped to raise your profile here in the States at all?
PAUL CASEY: Absolutely zero amusing banter. (Laughter). Really disappointing. What were you thinking was going to happen? I'm intrigued.
What was the second part of the question?

Q. If you think it's raised your profile here in the States at all.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I think it has a little bit. You know, it's not something I pay too much attention to. It's not why I play golf, but it can be detrimental at times, but it comes to be a lot of fun if you embrace it correctly. It's been enjoyable, I must admit.
But as I say, I don't pay too much attention. I don't get wrapped up in it. I occasionally have to remind myself I'm No. 3. It's not something -- I never sort of woke up and went, sort of, oh, krikey, I'm No. 3, what now? Things have not changed in any way, shape or form. For me it's an ongoing pursuit to see how good I can be and see what golf events I can win.

Q. On the banter side, I was thinking along the lines of your Ryder Cup colleague Ian Poulter, any spin-offs from that or not?
PAUL CASEY: Does that make me No. 4 then? No, I will say Poults was one of the first few players I bumped into when I arrived back in the States in Fort Worth in the locker room and he was great. He said congratulations and, you know, he actually seemed more excited than I did.
You know, I think Ian is clearly a great player. And certainly from when I've watched other players win tournaments, if I've watched friends of mine win majors, you certainly pay attention to the way your game stacks up against theirs, and I always take that as a positive if they're friends of mine, guys who I think I can compete with, and I think Ian took my moving to No. 3 as a positive. It sort of showed him that certainly he got into some interesting debates on what he said, but I could see by looking at his face that he's like, that's right where I want to be, and he believes he can get there. And maybe he can.

Q. They recently got two inches of rain here. Did the course play soft yesterday, and if so, what will that do for the rest of the week? And they added some bunkers and redid all the bunkers, did you notice that?
PAUL CASEY: Yes. New sand in all the bunkers; is that right? I haven't spotted all the new bunkers yet, but I was trying focus on fairway. The rain, it is soft out there. I mean, you wouldn't notice. There are no muddy patches. There's no puddles or -- the golf course is absolutely perfect. You can't find a weed on it. But the ball is not rolling. The golf ball in the fairway will land and stop dead, and even long irons or even woods into the greens which you may be hitting this week, because the golf ball isn't going very far, will hold.
Having said that, they've managed to get the greens at maybe even 12, maybe 13 on the stimp when all is said and done, which is pretty phenomenal. You've actually got to be careful because you can spin the golf ball off these greens, so there is a point when it becomes -- soft greens are -- they can be too soft, and with some of the holes and some of the extreme speeds of these greens -- holes like 2, for example, if you have to lay up off the tee after a poor tee shot and hit wedge in there or sand wedge, you're going to spin it off the front if you're not careful. It's very, very easy to do. So you're going to find that guys I think would prefer them to be a little bit firmer than they are. That would actually brings scores down just a little bit if they firmed up just a hair.

Q. Can I go off topic? Arnold Palmer's 80th birthday is in September. Can you remember the first time you met him in person and what that felt like, and did you know Arnie when you were growing up?
PAUL CASEY: No, I was sort of after Arnie's prime. I was born in '77, so I was sort of -- no, I don't remember really watching him on TV. First time I got to meet him was Bay Hill probably -- I'd have to check the first time I played Bay Hill. I don't even know, actually, 2002 or 2003 or something like that.
Sort of a strange feeling. I'm not one for getting wrapped up in sort of celebrities or famous people, but there is something very strange when you meet Mr. Palmer, the King. What do you say? What do you do? What do you call him? It's like meeting -- it's a bit like royalty. What do you do? What's the protocol? And how do you say sort of, "I'm a huge fan of yours," without looking like a bit of an idiot? I guess you just do it, you just say, pleasure to sort of meet you, and that's basically what I did.
I don't know him that well. When I have met him, he's been fantastic. He's been wonderful, a gentleman. Yeah, very cordial and a pleasure to meet. Hopefully I can -- I would love to sort of just get inside his mind and sort of ask him a few more questions. I've never really had that opportunity and I would relish that.
And happy birthday in September.

Q. What did you call him?
PAUL CASEY: Mr. Palmer, by his name.

Q. Paul, looking ahead a little bit to next year, what are your thoughts on the groove issue? Have you experimented at all, and what do you think is going to happen?
PAUL CASEY: I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I have experimented. I tested wedges in Fort Worth at Nike test center the week of Colonial, and what I found is off the fairway there is no significant decrease in spin. In fact, it's right there, same sort of numbers being generated when you measure those numbers on a launch monitor. But as soon as you drop into the rough, then the numbers change drastically. The ball tends to slide up the face, not really grip on the grooves, and you'll get a highball flight, high launch, low spin, which is going to do two things; one, if you've got the club head speed it's going to create fliers, and if you don't the ball is going to loop out and fall short of the green, fall short of your target. So it's pretty much going to be hitting the fairway, keeping the ball in play, and it's going to affect the guys with lower club head speeds who don't generate spin.
It will certainly affect me, but it won't affect me as much as it's going to affect other players is my feeling. So I'm actually fine with it. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a challenge.
I remember what it was like to hit fliers with irons as a kid growing up. I was just old enough to do that. I even played a persimmon wood when I was a kid.
You're going to see guys who are younger than me that maybe haven't experienced that too much, but guys who are my age or older, I'll say even if they don't have the club head speed, they'll find a way around it. They're going to change something. They're going to change -- either they'll change the golf ball or they'll change the way they play the game slightly and use trajectory and use sort of loft to stop the golf ball rather than spin.
I think it's just going to be entertaining. I mean, everybody is going to get out there and test stuff pretty quickly. You can sort of hear it down on the range. The first time I probably put new stuff into play will probably be Tiger's event for me. I'll probably wait that long. But I'll test all the way from September onwards when we start to get product in. I'll test as soon as possible. I've got to put them into play sometime. I'd rather put them into play this year rather than turn up next year and not know what's going to happen with the flight of the golf ball.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Paul, thanks a lot, good luck this week.

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