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January 19, 2018

Paul Casey

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Q. 7-under today, what's the difference?
PAUL CASEY: Five. I don't know, I'm not a morning person, but the golf course was perfect this morning, just a little softer. Greens less fierce. Yesterday was pretty firm and fiery, and actually I struggled a little bit with the iron control sort of left and right, not really distance control but just accuracy, and today I didn't. Today was really good. I dialed things in and five better.

Q. And when you go out and see the sort of scoring that's been present, does it slightly change your approach going into today, bearing in mind knowing it's a long golf course. You said at the start of the week it's a long golf course. Did you play slightly different in terms of strategy?
PAUL CASEY: I became pretty aggressive after maybe sort of three, four holes this morning when I felt I had good control of the golf ball and had already made a couple of birdies. You start to see Thomas Pieters creep up on the leaderboard and keep going and keep going, I was trying to come down the stretch and make as many as I could. Still three behind as we sit here and I felt like I played some really great stuff today.

Yeah, the mind-set was -- yeah, I guess it did change, hoping it was going to be pretty good today. Then aggressive as it turned out. It's probably going to be a shootout to be honest. This course is so well prepared that guys are going to make putts. Guys can reach par 5s with the hot weather. I expect guys to -- maybe this is a week, I don't know what the best score has ever been around here but maybe this is a week that guys get close to 20-under.

Q. Quite a few years ago now, playing for a second win; how do you use winning a tournament, even if it wasn't recent, how do you use winning feelings when you come back?
PAUL CASEY: I know this course well. I think that's the thing. I know how to get around it. I know where I struggle around this golf course. I know where I can capitalise with the strengths of my game.

I've got a good fan base here. Yeah, there's lots of positives. Every hole it seems like I've got good memories of, so it really is drawing from some of those past experiences. I guess it means nothing in the grand scheme of things because you can't control whatever guys do.

But I think the biggest motivation which you did mention, is the fact that Kaymer has got three and I've only got three. The German, I see him obviously in Arizona because he spends a lot of time out there, and he doesn't let me forget it. So I would love to equal that record this week.

Q. Bogey-free, 7-under, easy day out there?
PAUL CASEY: I'm glad you think that. A couple are par saves coming down the last, one on 7 and one on 9. I was trying to be aggressive and make birdies. Thomas Pieters and his colleagues, Ross Fisher and other names at the top of the leaderboard, Ryder Cup players who I know are going to keep pushing on.

I was trying to make as many birdies as I can and I've made great progress. It was a good opening round, 2-under, but I had to get going and I did that.

Q. What's the difference out there today?
PAUL CASEY: I didn't have great control of the golf ball the first day. I missed a lot of shots left and right. Don't know why. I fixed it this morning on the range, stuck some sticks down, worked on the alignment a little bit.

Ball was going roughly where I wanted it today, and the greens were a little bit softer. Yesterday they were firm and fiery. I found them difficult to stop the ball where I wanted to, and if you missed a fairway, which I missed a few yesterday, the rough's great. It's a wonderful length because you can be aggressive out of the rough but again trying to get the spin on the golf ball, it was difficult to get it close.

If a guy is going to shoot a low number in the afternoon, he's had really good control of the golf ball, which I've got Dustin, Rory, Tommy just teed off. These guys can do, but maybe the mornings are slightly easier.

Q. Great front nine, finishing with an eagle. Talk us through that. Feeling aggressive?
PAUL CASEY: I was. Didn't catch the tee shot the way I wanted. Left myself a pretty long back and full rip with the 3-wood. When the caddie says 230 to the front, you think, I might be able to get an iron there and then he tells me it's 43 paces on the green. A long old hole. I ripped a full 3-wood in there to 18 feet or 15 feet, something like that. Not sure if I've ever eagled that hole before. It always cleans up the scorecard. I was pretty psyched about that.

Q. And to finish with a par save on the ninth, your 18th.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, felt good. The bunkers are not easy. The design of this golf course, the bunkers kind of sweep away and take the ball down to the flat of the bunker, and they are difficult to play out of and not a lot of sand.

I've seen some guys struggle out of them so far this week. So I felt good about that and worked on the bunker game. Bunker game is one of those things I wasn't very happy with late last year and I put some effort into it and it's nice to know the hard work is paying dividends.

Q. Was there a point early in that round where you made a conscious decision to put the foot down and hit the accelerator?
PAUL CASEY: I hit a very good tee shot on 12. 12 was tricky and Tyrrell hit it in the water to lead us. He got it just a little bit left and the wind was at that point in the day, it was there. It was a full club of wind.

I hit a lovely shot in there and missed the putt, but that was I felt like that was the toughest shot I was going to face for a while, anyway, just because of the danger with the water.

I was like, well, I got over that one and hit the perfect distance. I've just thrown it at it. Greens were more receptive today than they were yesterday afternoon. So yeah, it was all guns blazing. I hit a lot of quality golf shots. To be honest it probably could have been a little better than it was, but I'm not complaining, a couple of par saves coming in on the last couple and I'm happy.

Q. Was there any influence from what you were seeing on the leaderboard, as well? That isn't usually the case early in the tournament, as early as this?
PAUL CASEY: We've seen it, not telling you anything you don't already know. We've seen a trend it seems in the last few years, guys just keep going. You used to be able to take the old -- Monty always gave me the equation is you took the first round score, you double it, and you add a couple more. With that being said, 14 being the winning score, I mean, it's not going to be. Was that right, six was leading? I see 20 maybe this week. You've just got to keep going.

You see Thomas Peters and Ross Fisher, a lot of firepower, Ryder Cup players on the top of the leaderboard. I know they are not going to back down. So to me it was foot down. I was trying to get to double digits. Didn't quite but I'm very, very happy with the day. It was great.

Q. From your point of view, given where you're at at the start of the year, the ideal scenario to be right in the mix heading into the weekend?
PAUL CASEY: Without question. Obviously there's been attention on me so far this week because of rejoining The European Tour, but I don't want this to be a turn up and yeah, I'm rejoining the Tour, isn't it great.

I'm here and I want to try and win this. I'm not going to have that many opportunities in Europe to win and I'm still going to be very focused in the US and I want to win there, too.

But it's almost kind of -- I'm putting pressure on myself, nice amount of pressure, to try on the opportunities I have in Europe, let's capitalise, let's do something, let's show these guys. I've won a lot of times in Europe. A lot of guys have never seen me play. Tyrrell Hatton, never played with him in Europe. Yeah, like to show him what I'm capable of.

Q. The next win, whether it's here or the United States, that's going to be one of the biggest of your career, isn't it?
PAUL CASEY: Why is that?

Q. Because you haven't won for a while and you're restructuring your career, and so therefore, I would have thought it would be very, very significant to you.
PAUL CASEY: I hope it's a really big win. I hope it's a major victory. All victories are great. All victories are big. I've got to the stage of my career where I've got great love for the game of golf.

I'm very content off the golf course, and whether there's dozens of victories from this point, be amazing; if there's not a single one, I'm very content. It doesn't make me any less fierce or any less competitive. Whatever victory, I will be sure to celebrate it to the max.

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