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March 23, 2019

Paul Casey

Palm Harbor, Florida

JACK RYAN: We would like to welcome our tournament leader, Paul Casey to the interview room. 54-hole leader. It must feel pretty good at this point to have one round to play and be, have a chance to become the first repeat winner of the Valspar Championship.

PAUL CASEY: It feels really good. Started the day with the lead, finished it with the lead. That's the plan tomorrow. Golf course is tough and I played well, I played, I was patient, for the most part and aggressive where I, when I had opportunities and game felt really, really good. Looking forward to tomorrow, playing with Dustin is going to be very exciting. Last time I think we had a bit of a showdown back in 2016 maybe BMW and he's wonderful to play with, he's a gentleman to play with on the golf course and yeah, any time I got a chance to go up against world No. 1 I'm excited about that.

JACK RYAN: Take some questions, please.

Q. What were you thinking was going to, how the day was going to go, when there's all 70 guys within seven shots of the lead, guys going early and kind of to follow on that, were you at all surprised to have stretched to three shots middle of the back nine?
PAUL CASEY: I didn't know it was a three-shot lead, I wasn't really looking at the leaderboard.

JACK RYAN: It was a three-shot lead.

PAUL CASEY: Yeah, a little bit surprised because I thought my feeling is that this, the conditions being a touch easier in the morning -- I don't look at scoring averages but it feels like it's easier in the morning when there's a little bit more humidity in the greens and then it gets tougher in the afternoon when they dry out -- and I thought we would end up with a situation where everybody was compressed again. Somebody -- because it looked like guys were shooting, there were some 5-unders, maybe 6-unders at some point. I thought we just, I thought I would find it very difficult or the final few groups would find it very difficult and that a 1- or 2-under would be a very, very good round of golf. Yeah, surprised.

Q. You played here a handful of times without showing much for results and then for two years you've been a fixture on the top of the board. What's the biggest difference?
PAUL CASEY: Don't know. I asked my caddie that walking off the 18th tee.


I don't know. That was my question to Johnny. I said Johnny why -- I really, I love this golf course, I always have -- his answer was, he goes, well the only difference is your caddie, that was Johnny's answer. It requires a level of control, tee shots this place almost dictates what you have to do because of some of the over hanging trees and the shapes of the fairways. Second shots, yeah, it's fairly obvious what you need to do but how do you do it. And we have been using a lot of shape on the golf ball and spin control and maybe in the past I probably would have not been quite as patient and controlled as to the angles and the positions I take. Because if you get it wrong you can get burned really quickly. So I don't know, I got no other reason for my poor performances in the past. Maybe caddies, but I'm not going there.

Q. Does Dustin being in the final group with you at all change your approach or how you're going to handle things going into tomorrow?
PAUL CASEY: No, not really. Get along really well with him, he's a gentleman to play with. And I'll be playing first for most of the day. No, it's probably, it's, of the guys on the leaderboard, he's the one I would want to be paired with. So it doesn't bother me, obviously two shots would have been nicer than one, but one's better than level or one behind, so.

Q. Why would you want to be paired with him?
PAUL CASEY: He's the best player in the world. One, that's why I work and I do what I do because I want to play against the best in the world. And obviously he's the prominent one in the group of guys near the lead that -- who is the obvious one? Dustin. Who is the favorite tomorrow? Probably Dustin. So I actually feel very kind of little pressure. For me it's like I just, you look at my results versus Dustin's, he's the better player, so it's pretty simple, if I go out tomorrow and beat him I actually might win. Plain and simple. Great scenario.

Q. Last year you finished way before everybody, you were in an hour and a half before the last group. Now you're in the final group this year. Which do you prefer?
PAUL CASEY: Oh, final group. Yeah. Waiting around on that brown sofa in the locker room was terrible for an hour of the it was very comfortable, but -- glad you don't have a microphone on Doug. No, I would rather be final group. Yeah, because it was the feeling, I generally felt like I had lost the golf event on Saturday after my round and so Sunday I felt like I had very, very little chance. As it turned out I didn't realize -- the first time I watched the replay was actually this week, I think it was Wednesday, Golf Channel ran it on Tuesday or Wednesday, first time I had ever seen the last hour and a half of play. I saw myself playing 18, at that point Justin Rose and those guys were still on 11. And I hadn't watched it and I still to this day -- and watching I was like, oh, somebody's going to tie me, I'm going to be in a playoff or I'm going to lose. Patrick Reed's not going to take three to get down on 18. So it was strange watching it. No, this is a better position.

Q. Have you or Johnny been getting any interesting reactions to what he's wearing on the bib this week?
PAUL CASEY: Johnny? The champ? A lot of positive stuff. A lot of good stuff. Was that open to every player?


PAUL CASEY: To put it on there.

JACK RYAN: Not the champ.

PAUL CASEY: Not the champ. Well they could have. We were just told we could do nicknames or social media handles. Yeah, no, a lot of good stuff. I've heard it a lot, people shouting it out and tomorrow's going to be quite entertaining, quite raucous, I imagine, but really good stuff. I commend whoever came up with that idea, Tracy and her team, maybe that's something we can carry on to other events. I think it's really cool.

Q. Is there anything from Travelers or Pebble that you learned that you can apply to tomorrow to potentially help improve that result?
PAUL CASEY: I think this is a, Pebble's a strange one, Pebble I never played particularly great rounds of golf on. I've never, I don't think I've -- maybe my lowest tournament round is kind of 69. Phil shooting the round he did I was always kind of, not sure I had the fire power around there. Travelers, I was very out of kilter, my warm-up wasn't good. This is a different scenario. Having won this, I'm, my mindset now is I've won it, I have nothing to lose, as I just said to you, I'm feeling a good position, like I don't have really any pressure. Last year different position. Wanting to win, hoping I would win, thought I had blown it. Now I've got one of those trophies. Yeah, I want another one, but it's not as much sort of urgency or pressure. This is, tomorrow's going to be highly entertaining for me.

Q. Does it help you at all knowing, what, did you come from five last year?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I don't know.

Q. A fair amount. And there's -- knowing that and knowing what's capable on this golf course, how do you go about your business tomorrow? I mean there's a lot of focus on you and D.J., but if you look at the history of this tournament.
PAUL CASEY: A lot of guys in with a chance if we do, if somebody does what I did. It's a tough golf course to shoot low. 65 by somebody out of the pack just behind us would be problematic, but I can't control that, I'm going to go out there and shoot what I try -- attack the golf course the way I attacked it today.

Q. How do you shoot low around here?
PAUL CASEY: I don't know. What did I shoot on Friday? 66? Is that the lowest? No, 65's obviously the probably the lowest I've shot. What's that? 6-under?

JACK RYAN: 6-under, 65.

Q. It's not much.
PAUL CASEY: It's not a lot relative to par. It's a difficult golf course. I said that about 10 times today.

JACK RYAN: Well let's not say it again. Thanks for your time, Paul.

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