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March 11, 2018

Paul Casey

Palm Harbor, Florida

JACK RYAN: We're joined by Paul Casey, champion of the 2018 Valspar Championship. Paul, what does it mean to you to get back in the winner's circle?

PAUL CASEY: Means a lot. It's been too long. Very satisfying. Probably more satisfying the fact that it was on a week where Tiger played some good golf and got to see some amazing stuff and hear the roars and it just was a great week, the buzz, everything about it, the course. I loved it. I played great. I couldn't be happier. Really a flawless week from start to finish, with some errors.

Q. Paul, just outside the scoring tent when you were doing a couple things, Tiger came through and said a little something to you to congratulate you.
What was the quick exchanges? What did he say to you and what did that mean to you?

PAUL CASEY: We've been friends and competitors for a long, long time. It's the only time he's congratulated me immediately after a victory. Normally it's the other way around. That's something special. Say just really cool. Great experience.

I loved his putt on 17. That was amazing. I thought he was going to hole the one on 18. I'm sure he was disappointed he didn't get the victory. I actually thought he was going to win today before the round started. I thought it was just teed up beautifully for him.

I said a couple times if I don't win this thing I actually want Tiger to win it. I'm glad it's this way (laughter).

Q. Paul, going back, was there ever any doubts that maybe you weren't going to get another win on the PGA TOUR? I know there's been victories in Europe along the way but since 2009 in Houston to now, ever any doubts?
PAUL CASEY: Yes, be lying to you if I didn't say there wasn't. I very much the last couple of years I've been very much at peace with it, Rex, having, you know, great times on the golf course and bad times on the golf course.

I've reached a very good place in my life where I've got a wife and kids and life is very, very good. I'm content with the life I have that I built. Obviously massive part of that is playing golf, it's what I love to do. It would be a big piece missing if I wasn't to continue to play great golf and maybe win golf events.

It would be the thing I would always give up and put my family first. To get a victory, another victory it is very much icing on the cake and kind of fills that void and makes me even happier. I was happy before but just happier.

Q. Can you just walk us through the emotions of watching everybody else finish?
PAUL CASEY: Awful. More to that?

Q. No, that was where I was going.
PAUL CASEY: Rubbish. I've not been in that position many times. Yeah, I expected guys to continue to make birdies. I think when I finished I expected somebody to kind of get to 11 because there were still a couple of par-5s to play and then sitting down in the locker room watching the last three holes, yeah, it's rubbish, can't stand it.

It's the only time I've ever felt that way was maybe a Ryder Cup where you're watching your teammates and you're rooting for your teammates. Now I know what my family goes through (laughter).

Q. Paul, you said the other day leading the Tour in cuts made is not a stat you want to be in, you weren't putting well enough to win.
What has changed and how much work has gone into doing what you were able to do today?

PAUL CASEY: An awful lot. Cuts made is not a stat that I really ever care about. I'd rather have multiple victories and a few missed cuts.

Two things: I've worked technically on the putting because it wasn't good. I was basically shutting, de-lofting the putter and shutting it on the way back. I'm very simply trying not to do that, open the putter face on the way back and allow it to close and rotate and putting -- mess around with it.

The way I strike the golf ball, if I'm hitting other clubs in the bag I don't stress about technique, I never have. I figure everything out and I pick the target and hit it.

If it's a good shot, great. If it's a bad one and went slightly off line and maybe I make a small adjustment and try not to do the same with the next one.

I've never done with that the putting. I've always been super critical and try to have a great stroke. I'm approaching it the same way I approach the rest of the game. It's carefree.

If it's not, I'm not beating myself up. That's allowed me to -- I'm now striking the ball much better. My speed is infinitely better and I'm not shutting the putter face. And starting on line I can now read putts again. It's pretty simple, but for so long I just couldn't see it and trying to be perfect and trying to be better and the trying wasn't getting anywhere. Getting in my own way.

Q. Paul, you mentioned in the broadcast interview on TV afterwards a family friend passed away. What can you tell us about that, how much were you thinking about that situation out there?
PAUL CASEY: I didn't think about it too much today. I thought a lot about it on Sunday in Mexico. She passed I found out Saturday night Mexico week. She had a long battle with cancer, too long to think about and the name is Mary and Ian, her husband, was there at the end and he's a dear friend of mine.

I'll see him next week. He was one of my best friends when I joined Burhill, small club I'm still a member at in Surrey: His nickname is Nutsa. I can't explain it. But Nutsa always looked after me and still does to this day and always welcome and watch me at Wentworth, Mary would always tag along and drove up to Scotland to see my very first victory.

God, like 8, 9 hours of driving or something to get from where they live up to Gleneagles. So, just, you know, heavy heart. One of those -- unfortunately everybody, seems everybody has the same story I've got. Cancer sucks. It's just rubbish.

Yeah. I actually didn't think about it too much today. I think if I had thought about it probably could have been probably not right thing to think about playing. Afterwards just think about it now it's more emotional now.

Q. Paul, you now talking about emotions. You mentioned during the week you gained a lot of inspiration from Phil winning in Mexico.
Given the fact you're in your 40s --

PAUL CASEY: What was the question, Bernie?

Q. Another 40 year old.
PAUL CASEY: Doug wants a translation. Inspiration from Phil's victory. Yeah. I loved Phil's victory. That's why I thought Tiger was going to win today because he's probably watched Phil win, I want to win. At least it's another one for the 40 year olds this week, very much so.

A lot of inspiration from Henrik's victory at The Open Championship. It's becoming a young man's sport and so it's very rewarding to be able to go up against the young guys and still beat them and still compete with them.

It's what I said. It's one of the reasons I want to play a Ryder Cup because I want to play -- especially looks like we're going to get some of the old characters back. I want to play against a different generation, JT and Jordan and Rickie. Looks like we might have Phil and Tiger.

I think it's great. That's what I love about golf. I think the place I'm in and how good this feels and although it's been nine years since the last victory there's no reason I feel -- there's no reason I can't get more victories this year.

Q. Do you think Thomas be pleased if you rejoin the European Tour?
PAUL CASEY: He may or may not have already texted me.

Q. What's Ian's surname?
A "Cullcoldcliff". Don't ask me to spell it right now. Just write Nutsa. Everybody in Waybridge knows it.

Q. You guys I know this and the Match Play, you guys are supposed to expect opponents to make every putt. Were you expecting it from Tiger and what were you putting the odds on that putt if you're being honest?
PAUL CASEY: 50/50 on 18, yeah. What is it, 1 in 20 putt, probably less. Probably way less than that. Yeah. I expected 50/50 after that putt on 17. Brilliant. I dodged a bullet with him. I didn't see it. I walked in and started watching the telecast when he missed the putt on the par 5, 14.

Q. Where were you when he -- at the end out on the range by then?
PAUL CASEY: No. No. Nope. I signed autographs, went to the locker room and watched them finish. I was just going to watch Patrick finish because I thought it was -- then he made the bomb on 17. I'll go watch two groups now finish. I was going to head to the range and kind of didn't need to.

Q. I was actually keyed up another age question but with Tiger coming back and Phil's victory and everything, making any sort of statement here for the longevity of golf and do you think you could get a foursome of 40 something here and take on anybody in their 20s and 30s?
PAUL CASEY: Depends on the golf course.

Q. Augusta.
PATRICK REED: Yes. Yes, no problem. Augusta, 40-something could take on anybody.

Q. And longevity question, what do you think y'all are saying about this game and how long you can play successfully?
PAUL CASEY: As Phil said, it's all about health. It's not about strength. But it's about health. It's about eliminating injuries and can the body move. I'm thinking I'm amazed at Tiger's clubhead speed this week, absolutely outstanding.

I'm excited to see him play against -- I just so want the young guys to see what we saw for such a long time. It would be really, really cool. I'm never going to shift it out there as far as these young guys but if I can at least stay somewhat in touch, play the right golf course and without question -- I've shown it the last few years.

I know I haven't won but I've at least been kind of there or thereabouts. If I putt like I did today there's no reason why I can't be even more of a threat.

Q. Paul, what was the difference just how you felt today versus all the Sundays where it didn't work out?
PAUL CASEY: Pressure wasn't on me. I mean it wasn't even -- what was I, like an hour plus before the final group? So, I was just cruising around. Nobody is watching us. Nobody is watching me.

And until it got down to really 12 onwards then it was serious stuff but until that point it was very much a very nice Sunday afternoon.

Q. Did you think you could win when you showed up this morning?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, but -- yes, but I needed something special, needed a clean card and what did I mess up? I messed up 3 and that frustrated me. Middle of the fairway, 7-iron and I just -- I hit the ball up into the wind. Just an error. Too much shape on it.

The greens are much softer today than yesterday. I hit a nice putt but the ball didn't run out. Pitch and putt. Just not reading the speed of the greens and the firmness of the greens correctly and that was frustrating because it was like if I'm going to win today it's got to be a clean round of golf. But then straight back with birdie on the next.

So I kind of felt like I righted that ship. 1-under through 4 is not bad because there's some tricky pin positions. Didn't really think about it too much, Doug, until I got on a run. I'd say after 12.

Q. What did you hit in there?
PAUL CASEY: On 12? 5-iron, pitching wedge. See, I'm not too bad for a old man, I'm kind of long. I hit 8-iron, Tiger hit 6. He was 40 feet past and I was 40 feet short.

Q. He had the right yardage from his caddy.
The question that I have is about the green chart book with the hole locations. I've been doing some research on it, got a chance to talk to Joey just because of the success from DJ and Phil on that, you and G Mac are one of the very first ones kind of got started with the daily hole with the greens and red lines.

Would you tell us like how much it helps your green reading process?

PAUL CASEY: It does. I think for me in a weird way it speeds it up, if anything for me. I mean I sit in the two camps. I'm very much a purist. I would like to probably eliminate a lot of technology that's assisting guys in figuring out their way around the golf course. I'd like to sort of send it back -- maybe even eliminate greens books.

Having said that, if the technology is out there I'm damn well going to use it so I have every bit of advantage over everybody else, at least not a disadvantage.

It's very clever stuff. It can certainly teach people who have never -- can't read greens, don't know how to read greens, how to read them and how it works.

For me the biggest effect is probably on the approach shots and trying -- knowing where roughly the straight is going to be for the pin each day, straight uphill or downhill, then I can position the approach shot accordingly to leave myself the easiest putt.

After that it's usually just a hint to get firmer reads, yes, this is left to right or yes, it's right to left. I don't get too caught up in anything else.

Going back to what I said about the putting, you know, trying to be pretty free and not overprecise. If I get a 20-foot putt and I'm somewhere -- that's going to be my read, somewhere kind of there (indicating). Before it had to be the spike mark. I didn't get it right, couldn't putt.

Yeah, I'm in two camps as to that technology. It's amazing stuff. Yeah, check back in six months and see where we are. I debate that stuff.

Q. I got kind of a follow-up. You felt not a lot of pressure out there today. In those past Sundays did you feel like you succumbed at all at the pressure?
PAUL CASEY: Possibly putting too much pressure on myself, yeah. Yeah. Having sort of sometimes played three very carefree rounds in a row and great numbers and then getting to Sunday and good, I'm in position, maybe I should kind of concentrate or something.

Q. Can you give us an example which one of those tournaments?
PAUL CASEY: I mean maybe Tour Championship last year. But then -- it wasn't quite there anyway. The game wasn't quite what I needed or wanted and the putting wasn't quite good enough. I looked at the stats and I genuinely the last, certainly last season I did not have a weekend where I had, I believe, Saturday and Sunday positive strokes gained putting and I think everybody who won in the course of last year had positive strokes gained putting on the weekend.

I wasn't -- again, trying too hard, wanting to win but not having the tools there to do it which then is actually an even worse position because then I'm trying so hard but I'm actually not capable, the ability or the skills aren't quite there. Today was kind of the opposite, not really caring and the skills were there.

Q. Paul, you played the tournament sometimes, some years you do, some years you don't. What went into choosing go play this year and how the tournament changed?
PAUL CASEY: To me it's one of the best courses on Tour. I think -- without question one of the best courses on Tour. My caddy, Johnny McClaren won here before with Luke Donald. He thought it would really suit my game.

I hit a lot of greens in regulation. We discussed again trying to get the flow of the travel. We thought it fit really nicely in the schedule, everything about it, you know, the people, Copperhead, there's just a lot of positives to it.

It's actually pretty easy decision, to be honest. Actually questioned why I haven't played it more in the past because actually I haven't played it that well. Surprising.

I did like it and as soon as I turned up, I had a good feeling anyway and obviously I'll be back next year but it's one I probably would have on the schedule forever. I still don't like 16.

Q. Who does?
PAUL CASEY: But I love it in general, I really do.

Q. I think you won a number of times, maybe last time in Korea? (Inaudible)
PAUL CASEY: Probably not the most significant win of my career. But it's certainly one of the most satisfying ones. The quality of golf that I played. I know I made some errors on the round yesterday, I hit it in the water twice but as a whole I would say it's one of the cleanest weeks I've ever had from kind of a golf course management point of view.

Emotionally, didn't waste any energy, picked it up right away. Had a great time at a golf course. Enjoyed -- playing behind Tiger yesterday was tremendous. Yeah, really, really cool. The whole experience was just brilliant, Bernie. I think because I'm probably just a lot more aware.

Houston was obviously great fun. My eyes are much more open right now. I've taken a lot in -- yeah, your last win is always your best one because it's the freshest.

Q. Talking about your awareness, raising your awareness, where are you right now?
PAUL CASEY: Where am I right now? On a level of awareness? In general, I'm not sure. As a golfer, pretty good. Awareness of where my game is at and what I need to do to make birdies, pretty good, probably percent, probably 99 percent, yeah.

Q. What's your schedule from here on in to the Masters?
PAUL CASEY: I pulled out of next week because I'm flying back to England and I'll be back for Match Play, Dougie gee. Johnny won't be on the bag because we didn't plan it. Johnny was only meant to be in Florida.

Q. You weren't planning on being in Match Play?
PAUL CASEY: No, two weeks off, Augusta and Hilton Head. Scotty Vail on the bag. I haven't fired Johnny.

Q. We'll write it anyway.
PAUL CASEY: Match Play, week off, Masters and Hilton Head.

Q. Still a big deal to beat Tiger?
PAUL CASEY: Yes. I'm sure I'll find a photo somewhere with my name above his.

JACK RYAN: All right. Thank you ball.

PAUL CASEY: How many opportunities do I have, seriously?

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