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March 20, 2019

Paul Casey

Palm Harbor, Florida

JACK RYAN: We would like to welcome the defending champion Paul Casey to the 2019 Valspar Championship. Paul, looking back on last year, what sort of memories come to mind when you think of that victory.

PAUL CASEY: Very cool memories. It's been great being out on the course the last two days to kind of relive that and back on the 18th green yesterday making the great up-and-down on 18 last year that sealed the victory. Walking into the locker room seeing the sofa that I was sitting on for an hour and a half watching the drama unfold. Yeah, it's always good memories any time I've won an event anywhere around the world it's, it always has a little special place in your heart and this one is very much has that.

JACK RYAN: Open it up for questions.

Q. Talk about the condition of the course, has it changed any at all from last year, the greens look very lush, everything looks very lush to me.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it looks, I had some guys talking about of I teed off yesterday they were saying it's sort of, it's okay, I was like, it's better than okay, it's very, very good. Compared to, I don't remember exactly how it played last year conditions-wise. Sort of the length of the rough, but it's a very good setup. It looks lush, but the greens are still up to exceptional speed already and this is one of the places where the design of the course and the contours on the green the pitch on the green, it determines how have you to play it anyway. So green speeds, you never worry too much about green speed because you just know it's exceptionally quick as soon as you get above the hole. But, yes, setup very, very well. The weather looks spectacular for the rest of the week. Conditioning, weather, yeah, agronomy's not going to play a massive role, just because it's so good out there. Putts are rolling smoothly and the rough is fair, stern but fair.

Q. When you're playing well as you had been, consistently contending or contending a fair bit, how important is winning, in other words, when you know you're playing good golf and it's hard to win out here, what's the value of actually crossing the line and is it that important?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I think it is. It's high. It can be a little demoralizing, continuing to play well and not getting a win. I think last year I was, I don't know if I was close to feeling that, I think I was already there, having played really solid golf.

Q. The demoralizing part? Is that what you meant by being there?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah. Kind of knocking on the door and, but I'm acutely aware of how difficult it is to win out here, how strong it is, week in, week out that the level of competition, it's not just good enough to be in the lead after 54 holes, you got to go out and actually shoot another brilliant round of golf. A number of times you see these guys leading and then they just pile on another 63 or 64, so, yeah, so it was key. I think it was emotional for numerous reasons because it had been awhile since I had won, but coupled with as you said really good golf for what, about three seasons or so, opportunities, a couple of which admittedly I wish the outcome had been different and a couple where guys had just played so brilliantly I just really didn't have a chance but you still feel like those are opportunities and they just slipped by.

Q. The difference between getting demoralizing as you said and losing confidence, are those different things?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, different things. Demoralize is probably too strong away of putting it. No, never losing confidence, just, yeah, a little frustration. However you want to put that. I think demoralizing is too -- because it's not, it doesn't put you off, I think demoralizing is when you're just, you kind of want to quit. I've been there. I know what that is. So just probably frustrated is a better way of putting it.

Q. How much do you study analytics and statistics within your own game?
PAUL CASEY: No, Johnny does that. I have others that do that.

Q. Well you have to listen to it.
PAUL CASEY: And that's great, I don't want to hear them unless they're good, positive.

Q. You don't want to hear if you're sort of the bottom half on TOUR and here's something you need to work on?
PAUL CASEY: Oh, yeah, those are, as I always put them, I don't like it say you're bad at something, it's an opportunity is always the way I put it. I have a lot of opportunities. Why, what's the stat you're going to throw at me?

Q. I don't have one, I literally just want to ask you like if it's something that you look at and if it's something that you use to sort of generate your practice routines.

Q. Based on --
PAUL CASEY: Very much so. How else do you figure out what to work on? And sometimes it's very easy, it's pretty obvious. Last week I think every area of the game was terrible. But there are occasions -- and sometimes stats lie. You got to be diligent how you read the statistic, Kostis would always get on me, your bunker statistics are horrific. Hang on a second, I said, I go for a lot of flags, I have a high ball flight and I tend to bury it in the corner of every bunker I ever go in. I'm not a bad bunker player. I might not be as good as Luke Donald or something like that, but I'm not bad, it's just I never have a decent lie or it's relative. So you got to understand how to interpret it. So, yeah, it pretty clearly the key to last year's victory obviously my ball striking was very strong, but I think I had 21 putts on Sunday. Now there were, there was a putt from the fringe on 17 which I rolled close that didn't count. And I holed a putt from on the front of the green on -- gosh, I've forgotten this golf course are, what's the par-3? 14? 13.

Q. 13 or 15.
PAUL CASEY: 13. So I holed that. So that counted as zero putts. So it's a little misleading. But still the putting was key and that's going to be the key this week. If I want to defend, the putting has to be strong and it's kind of been the thing. My opportunity.

Q. Would you mind talking about the TOUR rule -- Dustin's here this week because he had to add a tournament to his schedule that he hadn't played in four years, I know that's applied to you, do you like that rule, it's obviously accomplishing what it's designed to do and how have you had to accommodate your schedule to fit that in?
PAUL CASEY: I do like the rule. I think I do like the rule. My, I didn't play 25 last year, the tournaments I added for this year's schedule was Tournaments of Champions in Hawaii, which was a real hard one to kind of come to terms with (smiling). Yeah, it's accomplishing, I think it's a very good rule. It does get into a little tricky area of guys who have played an awful lot and danced around -- I think that was the case with Lucas Glover only had sort of three events to choose from I think in a particular season because he hadn't played the golf he wanted to and still had to fulfill that requirement. But I think it's a little bit of an anomaly. We have seen events like Travelers benefit from it in the past. Yeah, Tracy has to be ecstatic the fact that Dustin's here this week. I like it, it adds more World Ranking points, it's going to bring out people. Don't punish guys by stopping them playing, punish them by making them play, it's the best thing ever. I'm for it.

Q. Along the scheduling lines too, we're in the middle of this stretch, eight week stretch where it starts with the World Golf Championship ends with the Masters, you got THE PLAYERS and another WGC in between. How do you pace yourself through this eight weeks?
PAUL CASEY: I guess I've looked at it, I look at it as a whole, so I've not -- I try not to compartmentalize it and break it down too much. When you say it like that it seems like it's a we're in the middle of an awful grind kind of but we're not it's --

Q. It's a great grind.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, we've got great tournaments, you're just trying to balance it all so that you're always peaking and you got an opportunity every time you tee it up and balancing family life. And for me that means that I've missed a couple of events normally I would, or have I played in the past, Bay Hill and Honda. And that's always tough when you see, you walk up and there's like, oh, guys, Ken Kennerly, I got to speak to Ken, how can I explain my absence a little bit. And that's tough. I guess it's a good thing because I'm fond of every event I've played out here and fond of tournament directors and sponsors. But you can't unfortunately play them all. I think I've had a pretty good balance of trying to manage it. I'll have the week off before the Masters at home prepping. The problems continue after that because then we got more great events and I haven't quite figured it out. I got my manager sitting right behind you and so he doesn't want me to say anything other than the things I've committed to.

Q. How do you prep for the Masters different from another tournament?
PAUL CASEY: The one thing about the Masters is I know every shot I've got to hit before I get there. Having played it how many times I played it, a dozen times. I know every single shot. Doesn't matter where the wind's blowing, doesn't matter the pin position, I could stand anywhere in the world and practice and try to replicate shots I'm going to need that particular week. And I can't say the same for Bethpage or maybe Pebble, but where else are we going? Where is our other major?

Q. Portrush?
PAUL CASEY: Portrush. I never played Portrush so I have no way of preparing for Portrush. Other than it's links so I got to work on some links stuff, but I don't know what shot that is. I don't even know the first hole.

Q. That's a lot of shots to practice, isn't it?
PAUL CASEY: At Augusta? Yeah, but that's not that bad. You can write it out. You can say, okay, the wind's going to be out of the north today and figure out, literally go through and play 18 holes on the range. Or imagine the wind's out of the south how would I play the golf course.

Q. Play 18 holes on the range?
PAUL CASEY: Oh, yeah.

Q. What did you shoot?

PAUL CASEY: Out of bounds on the first, I don't know, dropped one on the second. Yeah, so it's easy, for me it's easy to prep. It's very structured. Maybe that's why my results have been solid around there.

Q. There was a lot of discussion on Sunday about the interaction between Jon Rahm and his caddie on the 11th hole at Sawgrass. Just wondered what your reaction was to that discussion and is that perhaps a sign of strength of that relationship for the player and caddie both to feel open enough to speak up at a critical point?
PAUL CASEY: Jon, we know who Jon is as a player, Adam is a great caddie. I heard it on the radio, I was listening to it on the radio on the way to the airport and Adam did, Adam sounded like he did everything he could short of standing in front of him or running off with the club so he couldn't hit, taken them all away from Jon. Yeah, I can't speak for -- I don't know, could Adam have done anymore or any less, should Jon -- it's none of my business. But I thought it was fascinating, I thought Adam was brilliant in what he said and how he laid it out there and the reasoning and the rationale, the outcome obviously wasn't what Jon or Adam wanted. I didn't see the reaction on TV because obviously I was driving. But they're a great partnership and they will continue to be a great partnership in the future and it's cool to get that, it was rubbish to see the outcome and what happened, but it's great to hear that interaction. Because otherwise if we don't, we don't hear it, we just think it's a, we think it's a bad decision and a bad shot. But it was so much more. That's golf. That's why it's so cool.

Q. I was reading where Jason Day felt by adding this tournament it was for him good preparation for the Masters with the way this golf course is laid out, the way it's set up. Would you echo his sentiments or do you have a different opinion?
PAUL CASEY: A hundred percent. The reason being, this is the if I think about the shots you're being asked to hit this is the best course leading up certainly -- yeah, this is really the best course with sort of two months or so before -- any tournament within sort of a two, three month stretch before Augusta, that asks you similar questions. This really dictates the examination, it lays it out clear as crystal. I think that's to my point, Doug said, asked me about the Masters prep, it is pretty obvious. You stand on, pick a hole, 10th tee at Augusta National, you know what you're going to do. You know how much you can cut off because of the way the trees over hang and you don't want to hit it where Bubba was during the playoff, so you know it's got to be, I can hit dead straight at the TV structure down there, preferably a five yard draw, this golf course is similar. There's a lot of tee shots around here holes like the 6th and Johnny and I are very, very specific. Starts on that tree, finishes on that one and it's nothing else. Can't hit a draw because there's an over hanging tree. Some of obviously the shapes are slightly different, but that's, that's, there's a premium on, the examination paper is laid out, don't have many options, unlike a links course or some of the courses in Florida where there's not a lot of furniture in the way up where the golf ball's flying. So you have one way of doing it, can you do it. I think he's right.

Q. Have you ever thrown a club at Augusta and if not, why not?
PAUL CASEY: What? Have I ever thrown a club at Augusta? Probably. I'm sure it would be -- it would be foolish of me to say no. Because you know I've got a temper. It was probably my putter towards the golf bag. But I don't know, I can't say for sure. It's one of those things, you behave a certain way at Augusta. And what was it? And if not why not? Why not? Why should you -- I mean why? What the hell? Why are you asking me this?


Q. I guess what I was getting at is do you, if you think about it, I'm speaking from my own experience I don't see a ton of that, tee markers smashed or --

Q. Or anything. I just wonder if there's something about the fact that it's a not only a private club run by a private club that major and the gallery and everything else if you just carry yourself differently there than you do the other three, excuse me, four.
PAUL CASEY: You would like to think -- yeah, we all like to think that we behave the same, week in, week out. But I agree there is, for some reason, there is a, yes. A different behavior from a lot of us that week.

Q. Have you ever been told anything? In terms of not harshly but --
PAUL CASEY: Have I ever been told off? Have I ever broken the rules? Well we all break the rules, we all flout some of the rules. We run down off the tee boxes because we can.


With the advent of these (Indicating cell phone) we have, we continue to break some rules. I played with Fuzzy Zoeller many many years ago, it was probably early, mid 2000s, back nine on Wednesday, and talking to him about, he looked like somebody, he pulled somebody out of the crowd on 12 on the practice day on Tuesday. I said, did you pull somebody out of the crowd? He goes, well, what do you mean? I go, well it was really strange because you were playing with Justin Leonard and somebody else and you you're right handed and for some reason this left-handed golf club appeared for this left-handed patron. He's like, well, maybe. So I was like, oh, I said my friend was watching this, he knew something was going on. He goes, what's your friend's name, he goes. And it's Francis, we call him Mad Dog, he's just over there, he's that big bald guy over there. And he's like, but without knowing, I'm on the 11th green walking up to the 12th tee, he obviously gets the amazing reception as a champion. He goes, Mad Dog, where's Mad Dog? Mad Dog come down here. And he pulled my friend out of the crowd on Wednesday morning and gets him to hit a shot on the 12. I mean, this is breaking every rule that we ever -- but it's Fuzzy, he's a champion. Yeah, we all video it and put it up on social media and giggle and, yeah, we -- hey, look, we're all acutely aware that there is a line and we all push it slightly because we're all kind of it's just the way we are, but we don't, you don't want to jump across it we don't want to cross it we're very respectful as you said it's a private club, we love the championship.

Q. Do you think there's a part of it though that the way the gallery is as well kind of feeds into the inside the ropes in terms of the --
PAUL CASEY: Behavior and etiquette? Yes. I love everything about it. I think it's amazing. So that doesn't stop me from maybe a bit of running, sitting down. Things like this.

Q. Throwing clubs.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah. Right.

JACK RYAN: We appreciate the time. Best of luck this week.

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