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March 20, 2018

Paul Casey

Austin, Texas

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Delighted to welcome Mr. Paul Casey to the WGC Dell Match Play. Paul, give your thoughts on your bracket and your three matches to kick us off.

PAUL CASEY: You can correct me, I don't believe I've played any of them in match play, have I?

MICHAEL GIBBONS: I don't think so. I've not checked.

PAUL CASEY: Unknown. Yeah, I don't know. Every bracket is tough. It doesn't matter what it looks like on paper, every bracket is tough. I probably know Fitz's game, his match play game better than the other, than Kyle, Russell. Yeah, I don't know. Tricky. Sorry, I don't know.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: You are playing well. You've been playing great. Obviously the win, you must be pretty confident. You have a great match play record.

PAUL CASEY: Feeling good, but I'm very unprepared this week, and traveled back it to England last week and just arrived back yesterday, which might be a good thing. My expectations are moderate. I'm confident, but I'd say not well prepared, so I feel like I've got a lot of work to do.

Tried to do a lot of work yesterday, hadn't hit golf balls in a weak. Today is going to be a busy day. It felt good yesterday and obviously the form is strong. If there's a format which will allow me to get away with a mistake or two, this would be the one. So, yes. I've talked myself down, actually.

Q. Does it matter who is in your group?

Q. Considering the fact that you've got to beat so many people?
PAUL CASEY: It actually has no real relevance. Obviously I've avoided sort of a monster group, kind of the group of death. There's some great matchups, Spieth and Reed. Have you got the brackets? Tommy Fleetwood and Poulter and Chappy and Berger, it's a brilliant group. There's actually a lot of matches I'd love to watch. So obviously I feel like I've avoided one of those groups, but it doesn't matter.

Q. Just to follow up, following the victory in Tampa, did you have an opportunity to sort of sit back? I know it's been a busy week, but it's been a long time coming. How much did you enjoy that?
PAUL CASEY: I've not sat back and thought over it that much. Probably the happiest I've ever been after any victory, though, on Sunday, walking out on the 18th green and receiving the trophy. Johnny had already left for the airport, to take the flag off the flag stick on 18. I loved it. Having won a lot of times in Europe and only my second victory over here, I don't think any of them have felt quite as good as that. It felt like -- it reminded me of my first victory at Gleneagles in Europe, a feeling that -- the feeling back there at Gleneagles is like, wow, I finally won. I've dreamt this might happen. I hoped I could. I didn't know if it would happen. And suddenly a winner on Tour, it felt very similar to that, a lot of satisfaction.

Q. You had some terrific runs in this event, particularly in Tucson and San Francisco. Would you say over the course of your performances here that you've enjoyed it or has it been frustrating that you haven't been able to get to that final step yet?
PAUL CASEY: I've always enjoyed it. I enjoy match play a lot. I love the volatility of it. It's funny, when it was at La Costa, I never made it after the first round, although I felt I was a good match play player. And it took a change of venue before I could kind of illustrate that. You're always at the mercy of where you play, to a certain degree. It can suit certain players. But, no, I've not felt that -- not been frustrated with -- maybe the one in Tucson, maybe a bit frustrated there.

But my performance here the last couple of years I enjoyed it. I found this golf course hard to navigate. The margin around here is very small. You're always three feet away from a glorious shot or a disaster. Thank god it's match play, because I wouldn't want to play straight play around here.

Q. From your experience and from watching other players, do you think you can pinpoint personality traits or anything else that makes someone a good match play golfer?
PAUL CASEY: It's a good question, but I've seen it all. I've seen the guys who are sort of -- the quiet assassins who show nothing, the poker face. I think of Luke Donald, doesn't matter if he's hit it in the trees or holed it out, he's got the same expression every time he plays. And that's very difficult to play against.

And I've seen the guys who ride the wave of emotion, like a Poulter. I don't think there's -- I think again that's the beauty of it. Maybe the guy who has the poker face is able to -- I was just thinking -- I don't know if it matters.

Ultimately, it's about eliminating mistakes and making the crucial putts and pulling it out when you need to. I think that the only thing you need to do as long as you figure out what works for you because I would never -- I'm somewhere between those two extremes, anyway.

I don't know. Good question. And if I had a secret I wouldn't really tell you (laughter).

Q. Scotty is just a one off on the bag this week, how did that come about?
PAUL CASEY: Our schedule changed. We were going to originally -- we weren't sure what we were going to do post Tampa, it was going to be WGC Mexico, Valspar. Johnny had only booked a ticket through Sunday of Tampa, anyway. Bay Hill was a very, very strong possibility, kind of 80 percent thinking we were going to play.

And then off course things changed, so decided to go back to the UK. And then it was one of those, it was like, my wife is still in England with the kids. It was like, well, I can have a week at home in Phoenix by myself. No, I'd rather go play. Generally looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time. And for Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that. The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddy.

Q. He picked Scotty?
PAUL CASEY: He picked Scotty, as he picked Fuch in Malaysia and Shannon in Travelers.

Q. In all of your match play playing, do you have any particular memories of unusual gamesmanship or that you've encountered that's been thrown at you, or perhaps you've watched in match play?
PAUL CASEY: I saw a lot of it actually as a junior growing up, as an amateur growing up. Occasionally there were a couple of -- the language barrier was used a couple of times as to whether putts were conceded or not.

I remember a play -- I don't remember who it was actually, but I remember a player picking up -- as his ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about ten feet away and he kind of looked at me. I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. And I said, that's okay there. So he picked it up (laughter). And then of course his perfect English became -- yeah, he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Did you have to make your putt?

PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I don't know -- actually I can't remember how it panned out. I've seen some stuff.

Ultimately it's -- actually at this level it doesn't really happen. It gets policed pretty well. I think players are strong enough now -- they were strong enough then -- you hear the Seve stories, whether they're true or not, but it doesn't happen.

Q. The last couple of weeks on Tour, some of the guys have had some issues with some bad behavior in the gallery. I was wondering if you've experienced anything like that recently or have you noticed any changes in fan behavior over the years?
PAUL CASEY: I think it's always a very small minority. There's always some isolated incidents out there, but I've not had anything that I feel that's crossed the line when I've been out there.

It's a tricky topic. This is entertainment, ultimately. If nobody came to watch we wouldn't be playing for the money we're playing for and it wouldn't be the game that it is. It's a tricky one.

Does it need to be probably looked at? Have there been certain incidents out there? Yes. But I don't know the solution to it. And in a weird way, we've kind of fueled it ourselves as players and playing -- some of these guys who have played unbelievable golf, and I think you take a Ryder Cup as an example, that is encouraged some of the behavior you occasionally see. And it's difficult to -- you know, it's kind of pot kettle black. I don't think it's an issue. I'm not overly worried.

Q. There have been in package bombings in Austin, I'm sure you're aware of. Are there any worries about security or anything like that when you come to Austin?
PAUL CASEY: I have no worries. No. No. No. There's trouble around the world. I've never been one for stressing about things. Having grown up in London where security has always been a concern or in the front of your mind, no, I've got more worry about people crashing into me, too busy texting on their phones on the way to the golf course than to worry about something like that.

Q. You were talking a little bit about comfort factors on courses. When a player is informed, such as yourself right now, is that less of a factor that it doesn't -- you can -- basically, it's on any course when you're in form?
PAUL CASEY: Yes, it's certainly less of a factor. Yeah, you're spot on. Yeah, you suddenly see a way, maybe a nemesis hole you've never been able to figure out, suddenly you see a way. Or it bothers you less. And suddenly when you're not in form, every hole is an issue. So, yeah.

As I said, this is a golf course where I've had some past decent success. I've progressed fairly well through the bracket the last couple of times we've been here. Maybe those margins will seem a little wider this week. Slightly carefree, less prepared, good form. Maybe the three foot suddenly becomes six or 12.

Q. As well as you've hit the ball over the last however many years, when was the last time you felt really uncomfortable on a golf course?
PAUL CASEY: Last time I felt uncomfortable on a golf course? I hate pro-ams. I feel uncomfortable every Wednesday. It's that pressure because you've got these three or four amateurs looking at you expecting greatness, and it can be so rubbish on a Wednesday. I'm good for a 75 every Wednesday. Serious.

Q. You mentioned this golf course is match play versus stroke play. Do you like that this golf course is another element of the match that it's not just you against the opponent but that it interjects into the match, as well?
PAUL CASEY: Yes. I love -- yes. It seems like -- because it's not overly long, infinite ways of playing most of the holes. Infinite lines.

Take the first, for example. Do you lay it up? Do you smash it on the green? If you miss it left -- I mean, yeah, infinite ways of making three or six on that hole. Yes.

I've never thought -- there's no such thing as a bad match play course, but certainly some are better than others. And I think long golf courses can be not great match play courses. The shorter the better. You want holes like 10 at Riviera would be a great match play hole. Actually I watched a bit of the -- say kids playing there, I didn't see enough of it. I saw a lot of putts going in. Riviera would be a great venue.

I think of what wouldn't be a good venue, something like 18 at Erin Hills last year. That doesn't really interest me from a match play perspective.

Q. You said there's infinite ways to play the course. A human being can see only one way at the time.
PAUL CASEY: If a human can only see one way, but ultimately very rarely does the golf ball where it's intended to go. So ultimately -- I think my point being that there are a lot of golf holes that really is illustrated the way you need to play a golf hole.

We'll look at the statistics, guys look at the pin position, and if we hit it there, the average score is going to be 3.8. But if you miss it down the left, the score will be 4.2, so we need to hit it over on this side. The hole will dictate how we need to play.

This golf course I don't think that's the case. There's just a lot of options, a lot of places which will be explored. And you think it would be the right place, it could end in disaster. You think you're in the wrong case and it could end in a birdie or an eagle.

But I don't disagree, I think probably guys are more creative with their -- either more creative with their course plan, their strategy, or guys who are just ultra aggressive are probably the ones that make the most birdies around here and win the most matches.

Q. You said when you were at the Valspar, your awareness for the course was very high and you play instinctive. Rory said exactly the same last week when he played. So what do you think is the best way to get into this mindset?
PAUL CASEY: Comfortable mindset. I think it's a combination probably. If you look at the common thread between Rory's victory and mine, Rory had an unbelievable putting week. I had a brilliant Sunday of putting. And that gives you immense freedom to do -- to play aggressively. It gives you immense freedom if you make mistakes, it doesn't matter, you'll clean it up. So ultimately it comes down to your ability. Your ability to get the golf ball inspect the hole. Rory's ball-striking was clearly second to none, as well. I think he led every putting statistic. That's what it boils down to. And suddenly the picture is very, very clear. And whether you pull it off, it doesn't matter, and that allows the freedom and allows you to be instinctive and not care, and let it flow, perfect flow.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: We look forward to your flowing this week. Thank you for joining us.

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