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March 24, 2019

Paul Casey

Palm Harbor, Florida

JACK RYAN: We would like to welcome Paul Casey the first back-to-back champion of the Valspar Championship. Paul moves to number 4 in the FedExCup standings with the victory. Paul, how does it feel to be back in this position, second year in a row?

PAUL CASEY: It feels really good. It feels very different. But not less any less cool. Very satisfied with that today. It was a scrappy round of golf but that golf course as Doug Ferguson just said is so difficult that it's damn near impossible to have a clean round of golf and not make mistakes. But I was composed, I was very keen to play well and I did and I made mistakes but then so did everybody else and I good shots it done and I couldn't be happier.

JACK RYAN: Nearing the midway point in the season how important is it to you get up into the Top-5 of the FedExCup standings at this point.

PAUL CASEY: It's always important, I don't care where it is in the season, I want to be near the top at the end of it, really, so it doesn't really matter where you are in the middle of the season, I want to be Top-5 going into the TOUR Championship or in the position I was in yesterday going into the final round at TOUR Championship, that's what I want. It's obviously nice, but the win's more important, FedExCup points are always, you know, look, that's obviously grown in stature through the seasons and it's very important, it's now listed down on guys' goals that they want to tick off at the end of the year. For me I look at sort of more global, more world view of the goals for the season and it's great to tick off -- I wanted to win again this year, that was kind of the top of the list, so I've done it. I'll have to look at what the second goal is.

JACK RYAN: Take some questions.

Q. Talk about your bunker shot on 18 how that stacked up to the one the other day.
PAUL CASEY: The one the other day.

Q. Realizing what position were you in and what you had to do.
PAUL CASEY: Which one the other day? I've been in that bunker about three times this week.

Q. You hit a 6-iron --
PAUL CASEY: No, that one, 8-iron, the one you thought I made the putt. I was in a different bunker because it was the next bunker up which was much easier, it's got less of a lip. 133 yards, Johnny told me, tried to hit a kind of a not quite a full pitching wedge like a three quarter pitching wedge, pretty hard though, so we're taking about four, five yards over the full one I guess would be the way of explaining it. And the lie wasn't perfect. These bunkers are very, very good out here and very fair but it was down a little bit. Luckily I didn't have a big lip in front of me like that first bunker because I could drive it a little bit more and keep it down and get the strike on the ball and I couldn't play it any better. I could of been more aggressive with the line but I wasn't trying to be it was exactly where I was trying to hit it.

Q. When you teed off today did you think 72 was going to be good enough to get it done?
PAUL CASEY: No, I thought -- I didn't think of a number to be honest I thought about trying to just execute a very nice round of golf and which I did for the most part, there were, I mean, listen, looking at it, I look at it as a whole 72 holes but the frustrating bits would have been the two 3-putts today on the 7th and 17th. Otherwise it was a very good round of golf. So those mistakes aside, I'm very happy with how I executed the round. The score I didn't really know what it was going to be, but no I would not have thought 72 would have got it done. I didn't actually think level par would have got it done either, 9-under. Yeah, probably double digits. But it shows how difficult this golf course is, two years running now 10-under and 8-under. It's a wonderful test of golf.

Q. Given last week's problems what came together this week, what were the elements of your game that caused you to be able to win this tournament this week?
PAUL CASEY: My rhythm was out of sync last week. I was quick off the ball, it was then kind of narrow at the top which led to poor ball striking. The cause of that, who knows. I struggle a little bit around Sawgrass. I think just being here on a golf course that I like so much and doing some hard work, just some basic drill work on Saturday, Sunday was the key. But my golf game's been in pretty good shape, so I've always thought I've been incredibly consistent the last few years but I would almost give up some of that consistency for more victories, quite often I see guys like Rory or Dustin missing cuts but winning very, very frequently. You get used to watching Tiger for all those years, he never missed a cut. I think guys nowadays it's more acceptable or just the style of golf, very aggressive. My missed cut last week was probably a good thing.

Q. When you started the day you talked about yesterday how Dustin was the guy to beat and that really didn't put any pressure on you, but it just seemed like you were completely relaxed, you knew you had won here, you knew you had the lead going in, you came off a great round. How much did that help you, because I was over on 9 and somebody yelled out, hey, smile, Casey, and you turned around and cheesed for the crowd and it just seemed like you were really comfortable where you were at and you had confidence that you could finish this thing.
PAUL CASEY: I had a lot of confidence. My victory here last year put me in back into a frame of mind that I, a comfort that I felt many years ago during my career back in, pick a year, when I was winning consistently in Europe. People forget, I'm not a prolific winner but I've won 17 times around the world. It's not bad. I would like it to be more, obviously. I know how to win, plane and simple. I think I had forgotten and last year's victory kind of maybe kind of broke the seal for lack of a better term and, yeah, today was a very different attitude to maybe I had had the last three, four years and an attitude that I had and a comfort and a relaxed approach confidence in my game. I still felt Dustin was the favorite, but it didn't mean I didn't think I could beat him.

Q. Along a similar line, do you feel like the bogeys on 6 and 7 might have been enough to derail you at a different point in your career and what did you have today that allowed you to continue on the right path?
PAUL CASEY: I think probably what I just kind of the previous question maybe touches on that a little bit. Just a different attitude, back to a, the old belief, because I don't think the golf game's any different from where it was a year ago or two years ago, a maybe it's a little better here and there but those are still fairly average mistakes, no excuses. One of them was sort of, they're both very fairly straightforward putts. So, yeah.

Q. You went nine years without the win out here and a lot of guys don't get through the other side of that. Was there a low point?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, but there were wins between the nine years.

Q. Right. But as far as winning out here on the TOUR, I mean, just wondering was there anything that kind of got you through and really sort of --
PAUL CASEY: No, you got to remember, from 2009 victory at Houston to last year's victory there had been a lot, I had gone through a lot, it was documented, injuries and divorce. So for me I, there was certainly low points, but for the last five, six years I've been very content and my life is wonderful with my family, my wife and my kids, and I've always enjoyed the work that goes into it and the process and the quest because golf really is that, you don't beat the game, occasionally you take a chunk here and there and you make a few birdies, but you have to enjoy that quest for whatever it is and I've always enjoyed that. So the last few years, no, I mean I would like to have won more, but there were victories around the world in other places. You have to take the victories from other places so to speak, you have to take fuel from somewhere else, otherwise you probably would go a little bit stir crazy. But I haven't been going mad the last few years.

Q. You mentioned the amount of attention that would be on you and D.J. going into today and with his own tough day he didn't provide much of a challenge to you. My question would be, what was your biggest challenge today?
PAUL CASEY: Combination of myself and this golf course. The golf course providing such a stern test and myself, can I rise to that test and that challenge that it's providing and deliver.

Q. Was there any point you had any doubts?
PAUL CASEY: No, I was kind of just stuck in -- kind of corny, Doug, but I was kind of stuck in the now for the most part. Not in a Ben Crane kind of weird way, but like in the present and trying to -- I was very aware of what was happening with the scores, maybe we lost track of it a little bit on 16 tee because there were no score boards, we couldn't, the scoreboard on 15 wouldn't flick around and change. We heard a roar on 18 and wanted to know if it was Louis, but it wasn't because he was only a couple holes ahead of us. Other than that, no, aware of what was going on, just trying to deliver on every single shot that's maybe that's the golf course because it's saying that you got to do this now, you can't get too ahead. I delivered nicely. I stuck -- I missed it where I needed to miss it, the errors luckily were long and left on the tee shot on 16 is where you're meant to hit it.

Q. Which shot were you most proud of?
PAUL CASEY: That bunker shot on 18 is pretty damn good. That putt by the way was really slippery, the first one, not the second one. Do you watch any of my golf? Even the tee shot down 1. It sets the tone for the day. Tee shot on 1 was solid. I mean that was -- by the way I is had the longest tee shot of the day down 11 yesterday. Didn't write about that, did you?


Q. Yet.

Q. Was the pitch on 14, was that pretty stock?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, no, that was good, it was really good.

Q. Side of a hill?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, dry, sort of fluffy, sort of fiery fast grass, sort of ryegrass that's dried out from the heat and lack of moisture. There were a lot of really good shots.

Q. I would say the course didn't make it look like it, in terms of what people expect as a really good shot, it would have to be something that you would knew and maybe not the average viewer?
PAUL CASEY: Obviously any shot, approach shot that's getting inside of 15 feet is an unbelievable golf shot out there.

Q. Last year I asked you about the green reading book. And this year with the limitation from USGA/R & A, did it take you long time to adjust? Was there anything different from what you did? I was able to look at Joey's book just hours ago.
PAUL CASEY: I mean I predominantly use those books for approach shots and trying to strategize. I double check what I'm seeing for reads on the greens, but I'm not so reliant on that information. I mean I saw -- it's such a gray area I'm not a massive fan of where we're at with it, I'm not a massive fan of them, but I do use them, I mean seriously, if there's, if I need any advantage I'm going to take it, if I can get it. But I'm not a massive fan of them. Right now we're sitting in a gray area. I guess it's been addressed, but I say either let them happen or ban them. That's kind of my position on a lot of this stuff. I don't like gray area.

Q. It's gotten smaller.
PAUL CASEY: A lot of people trying to get away from, look, you can't write anything in a book and you can't do this. Well, it's like, well, hang on a second, you get somebody who's played Augusta National or Copperhead course 50 times and they have written down -- Luke Donald for example writes down every single putt he hits and draws that into a book and has that information with him. That's his right, that's his advantage, that's his homework that he's done. And when you got to the stage if you can't have anything in a book it's like, come on, that, Luke's done that hard work and that's his knowledge, his advantage. So I wasn't a fan of that. Yeah, I'm probably just, I would probably, I don't know what the solution is, I'm not a rule maker, I would probably ban printed books and allow guys to draw whatever they want. We're kind of going down that road, but then it's a size thing as well. I don't know. How did we get here, that's more of a question. I don't know.

JACK RYAN: You've complemented Tracy and her team all week for the creativity with the spring break promotions this week. How cool was it to the, "The Champ x 2" put on the back of the bib?

PAUL CASEY: Very cool. Johnny now wants it, "X 3" because of his victory with Luke. He was quick to point that one out, wasn't he? It's been really cool. Music out there, I took advantage of the speaker that Valspar and Tracy and her team provided for the spring break theme on Wednesday, we had music playing. My play list, I will not reveal what my play list was. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Loved the idea of the caddie bibs, changing, guys picking nicknames and social media handles, it's great stuff. As John said on the green, to Gary Koch, we're in the entertainment business, plane and simple and I would play golf no matter what. It's very cool that I get to play golf and attempt to win trophies, I'm not just here to fill up the bank account I'm here to have a good time and provide entertainment. So I think Johnny and I did that this week. The initiatives that Tracy and her team and Valspar put together this week, they should be really proud because I've not seen many other tournaments come up with cool stuff like this.

Q. How do you could you bring up the play list and not tell us what it is. You brought it up.
PAUL CASEY: I got to keep something secret to you, Doug.

Q. You got World Ranking as high as number 3 back in 2009. The number ranking is different in different depth, but how much better player are you at this moment compared to that or now?
PAUL CASEY: Ranking is always a slightly tricky one because you don't know how everybody else is playing. I was proud to get to number 3. Tiger and Phil were ahead of me at the time. That was when I was playing some amazing stuff. I had won three times early in that year, Houston, Abu Dhabi and Wentworth. And then got injured ended up pulling out of the WGC at Firestone and didn't play the rest of the season and went down hill horribly from there. So I was proud to get back in the top-10 maybe last year I snuck into the top-10 for a week or so, just for a week, close to be -- exciting to be knocking on the door again and it's kind of a cool thing, I don't worry -- I would love to be No. 1 in the world. I don't think that's attainable just yet. If I accomplish all those goals I've written down then it probably would be, but we'll worry about that problem if it comes. World rankings I don't pay too much attention, but it's cool that I'm back up there because I -- don't know. Just happy to get trophies.

Q. Mentally you got to be really in good place after all this.
PAUL CASEY: Very good place, yeah. Excited for next week. I love Match Play. Excited for a lot of events, obviously a couple of weeks time in Georgia and then there's a whole bunch of stuff that I've written down, I've written down events like Travelers that I haven't won which I feel like I maybe should have. I've got a lot of stuff written down. This one was written down as well. So I don't write them all down. Only about half a dozen or so I write down a year.

JACK RYAN: Congratulations, Paul. Thank you for all your time this week.

PAUL CASEY: Thank you.

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