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March 22, 2019

Paul Casey

Palm Harbor, Florida

Q. Brilliant round of golf today. Obviously a little disappointed there with that bogey at No. 9, your last but talk a little bit about how much you love this course and how good you're playing right now.
PAUL CASEY: It's a great golf course. I think it's one of the best we play on TOUR. Might be the best one we play on the Florida swing. You know I like it because I'm defending champion. Champions always like the golf courses they win on. But it's really quality. It's very tough as well. The difference between hitting the green and landing just short, the dispersion of where the shots finish is high. There's a premium on ball striking. Scoring's never that low around here. Bogeys do happen. Disappointing on 9, but everybody's going to make bogeys. If you can just minimize those, it puts you in a good position. But it's wonderful playing with world No. 1 the last two days and see the quality of his game and quality of mine was pretty good too.

Q. Absolutely. I felt like really all facets of your game the last two days, especially today, obviously, have just really been on song. You look comfortable on the greens, your ball striking is good, your visualization with Johnny is kind of spot on. Your thoughts on that.
PAUL CASEY: You basically answered it, reiterate what you've just said there. I feel really good about it because last week was rubbish. I, for whatever reason, I struggle a little bit around Sawgrass and that frustrated me, annoyed me, coming in here trying to defend my title, which I would love to do because I never defended a professional title, I've defended amateur titles, English Amateurs and PAC 12 titles, I would love to do that here. So I worked very, very hard on the game and for whatever reason it's slowed things down. Quieted the transition at the top of the swing. I like slopey greens, these are very, very difficult greens, but that's the way I kind of like them. It's why I play well at places like Augusta as well. Yeah, it's clicked. Plus you got great crowds. This is just a fun golf course to play and a great buzz to the tournament, so very, very keen, yes, and nice to turn it around after the missed cut last week to suddenly be in not in control of this event but I'm near the top, which is good.

Q. Good playing today, is your play somewhat of a result of your good feelings and good vibes from a year ago or are you just playing that well?
PAUL CASEY: Both. I mean based on last week's place at TPC Sawgrass you would say no, I played rubbish last week. So you wouldn't necessarily, some statisticians or some guys would say no, unlikely that Paul plays well here this week. But you're right, good vibes, it's great coming in seeing my ugly face on posters and programs and things like that. I think it's cool. I love it. I've never defended a professional title, which I would love to do. I feel like I can around this golf course, because it requires a certain amount of ball striking, quality putting, I like slopey greens, and I worked very hard on the game after missing the cut last week. I was there -- Rory gave me a -- well we were having breakfast on Sunday morning, or, or lunch before his tee time on Sunday afternoon and he gave me a strange look across the range as he's warming up to go try to know win a PLAYERS championship, there's PC at the end of the range at Sawgrass trying to do some work. Obviously I was the only guy out there in the cold and the rain because I wanted to play well this week. And it looks like this work's playing off.

Q. This golf course looks like it may have changed a little bit from yesterday. The breezes are a little bit more gusty out there today.
PAUL CASEY: I don't know, it was tricky yesterday. Johnny hinted that, my caddie's running off to go watch some golf this afternoon because it's going to get entertaining because it's so difficult to figure out where that wind is coming from. Very rarely on this Copperhead Course do you face the same direction twice. So you're always having to make slight adjustments for the wind and then you can't quite figure it out. It's a difficult golf course. The greens are so firm, you can't get a tee in the ground to repair a ball mark. You need one of those metal pitch mark repairers. It's difficult but I like it that way. The crowd are knowledgeable, they know what they're looking at, they have seen enough golf shots around this great golf course through the years. So hopefully I'm one of those guys where the cream is going to rise to the top at the end of this week because it's very, very demanding.

Q. You have a relationship with UNICEF, this tournament has stepped up a hundred dollars for birdie, $300 for eagles -- nice eagle on 5 by the way --
PAUL CASEY: Thank you very much.

Q. -- to make a contribution. You've had a, since 2017, been involved with that, but also early this week you had an opportunity to be on the golf course with a young man who is color blind and you made kind of made his day, you were able to contribute some glasses to him. I know as players we understand what it means through charitable giving, what does it mean to you as a player to be involved in both those ventures?
PAUL CASEY: Well to me it's the coolest thing I can possibly do. As you said I'm very lucky to be associated with UNICEF, I'm an ambassador for them amazing that Valspar are donating for every birdie and eagle that I make. I do too, I have done, since getting on board with them for the last couple of years, it was actually, it will be two years anniversary in May, sort of when THE PLAYERS was back in 2017. Together with partners and various other people matching donations we have raised well over $200,000 to look after those kids and as you said, Ronan on it was actually on Tuesday, the opportunity to play the 18th hole with him, Sergio was out there as well, we played 18 and unbeknownst to Ronan, I had a pair of EnChroma glasses in the bag. And Ronan is color blind and these glasses, they don't fix his color blindness, but they allow him to now enhance certain colors so he can see colors that he could never normally see. And it's the coolest thing, together Valspar but the PGA TOUR as a whole, to what they do and the amount of dollars and the amount of people that they touch or not just in the U.S. but around the world, is what's cool about golf. In fact golf's always the vehicle to raise dollars, it seems, no matter what the sport. We should never forget that and I'm immensely proud to be part of the PGA TOUR and part of the golf community. The face, Ronan's face on Tuesday said it all and I've now had two amazing experiences on the 18th green and hopefully we can get a third one this week.

Q. What would it mean to potentially go back-to-back here?
PAUL CASEY: It's a big incentive. I've just mentioned it to a couple of guys that I've never defended a professional event, I would love to do that. I said actually I never defended, and then I got reminded I won three straight PAC 12s and a couple of English Amateurs back-to-back, so I have done it. But, yeah, it would be really cool. I think I'm mentally last year I was sort of hoping, obviously hoping I would win, wanting to win. This year knowing that I have won around here, I think that's, I have adjust slightly different approach to it and I played today quite aggressively and tried to take advantage of the golf course that I knew was going to get very, very tough this after noon. So I think it's going to carry through the rest of the week.

Q. Do you feel like you can let loose a little bit given the fact that you won this tournament last year?
PAUL CASEY: I think so, yeah. I've won it before, I want to win it again. If I don't, I guess it doesn't hurt as much, so, yeah, I think that puts me in a more relaxed frame of mind and we have obviously got some great players right behind me. I just played two days with Dustin, I know how dangerous he is, he can turn it on in a heart beat. There's not many guys that can double bogey their kind of fourth hole of the day and go on to shoot the round of golf that he shot. So it's going to be a tough week, but, yeah, feeling good.

Q. You missed the cut last week but you stayed at Sawgrass and practiced?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I said to some guys, I was on the range on Sunday while Rory was warming up to go win his PLAYERS championship, I was trying to hide at the other end, not get into trouble. And he gave me a strange look, like why is Casey out here kind of working. Yeah, I've struggled always at Sawgrass for whatever reason, I like the golf course, but my results haven't been great, but I was keen to work on that. It's too far for me I thought to go home back to Arizona, even though my family's currently back there. So I did a lot of hard work on Saturday, Sunday and then continued that. Charity day for DeChambeau on Monday, yeah, I've been full tilt working, but amazing how it turns around. It's just two, three days in golf or one good sleep and things change.

Q. That's not normal to stay over the weekend.
PAUL CASEY: Not normal for who to stay at events?

Q. I mean if you're not in it.
PAUL CASEY: For me? No, I'm here to work. I'm a professional at what I do and there's a lot of work that goes on that guys don't see, an awful lot of work that guys don't see. As I said, you would have not known about it if I hadn't probably mentioned it. So if it wasn't going to be on the range at Sawgrass it would have been another golf course somewhere down the road.

Q. I didn't know if you came down here.
PAUL CASEY: No, I would have come down here early but I was doing a charity day for DeChambeau down in Orlando and it all made sense, we all traveled together Sunday night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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