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March 26, 2019

Paul Casey

Austin, Texas

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much for joining us. Many congratulations on your victory last week. You've had a little bit of time to reflect. How does it feel to be arriving here this week as the most recent PGA Tour champion?

PAUL CASEY: It feels great. Really good. It's obviously been a short week, I'm a little bit tired. I'd like to have a day off to recover, but probably a good thing just to crack on.

Last week was brilliant. So enjoyable. And what a tough golf course that is. But unlike last year, last year was like this huge kind of relief and quite emotional. Sunday was just exciting and felt great and kind of felt like the sort of golf -- I certainly made mistakes, everybody did, but felt like golf I was playing ten years ago, when I was in my 30s rather than my 40s. So very good.

NEIL AHERN: You enjoy match play, you enjoy the Ryder Cup, you've won a match play event. So how do you enjoy this format and how does this week set up for you?

PAUL CASEY: Sets up great. Yeah, my match play record is fairly strong. Maybe not a huge success in this particular Dell Match Play, at Austin Country Club. But I mean I played well kicking off the Ryder Cup last year in Paris. That was a great match against Brooks. I know how to play it. I've got massive respect for my group, but I don't really have a group of death. I've seen sort of the Stenson, Mickelson group looks awful. Furyk and whoever else is in there. Who is the fourth? Jason Day, yeah, mega group. I watched the draw yesterday. It was great.

Huge respect for who I've got. Some unknowns within my group. I know them all, but I don't know how to play -- for me I don't give away too many secrets, so I play the course for the most part and you kind of react to the player, if you have to. But I'm fully aware, I watched Cam play great golf last year with Leishman in the World Cup. Ancer has been playing great. Who else is in my group? I just spaced. I should know. Sorry, it's been busy.

Yeah, massive respect, slightly unknown, but don't be fooled by the fact that maybe I don't have the supposed strongest kind of group. It doesn't really mean anything. Looking forward to it.

NEIL AHERN: How does this course setup for you?

PAUL CASEY: Charles Howell. "Chucky Three Sticks". I know Chucky well. They're all dangerous, aren't they?

Thank goodness it's match play, wouldn't want to play stroke play. Packed an extra dozen balls for the week, because you could lose a couple out there very quickly. I like it a lot. The greens have a lot of pitch to them. They're incredibly smooth, you have to hit the right areas. If you get in the wrong side of things you could have almost no shot, no recovery shot. And it makes it exciting. I don't know what to say. Still trying to figure out. I'm going to play the front nine in a bit and figure out the strategy for that.

Q. Along those lines of you looking out last night and seeing what you thought was the group of death. Have you ever looked at your pod in one of these situations and thought either, yes, that's perfect, that's exactly what I want or oh, no, this is what I wanted to avoid?
PAUL CASEY: I'm sure I have. I can't remember the situation or the group I had. I'm sure I have, though. I think through the years, though, I've always felt you've got to be -- the number of times I've seen guys, whether it's this event or Ryder Cup, or any match for that matter going back to amateur days, you've got to be really careful, saying, that's great, I so wanted that match or I so want to beat that guy or I've got him, whatever the attitude is, that is so dangerous, because they usually end up going the wrong way.

As Peter Kostis once told me the definition of "cocky" is that nice, warm, fuzzy feeling you get just before you screw up.

Q. Along those lines, not to point out any names, but Tiger is playing Luke List -- sorry, Rory is playing him. But it's hard to wrap your mind around, oh, that's who I want in the pool because he's playing so well this year.
PAUL CASEY: Correct. You have to be wary of the guy that just sneaks in, because he's going to be excited and motivated and it's an opportunity and he's -- there's been fairly -- sometimes good history against the underdog against Tiger, as well. Didn't Constantino Rocca beat him in Ryder Cup?

Q. In this event it was O'Malley beating him.
PAUL CASEY: So those are dangerous. So to my point, I'm the favorite, I'm the seed in the group, I'm very wary of that. I've got the target. Whether it's Chucky Three Sticks, technically I should beat them but we all know in this room that's not even a toss of the coin.

Q. Europeans winning three straight events and have done fairly well at the Ryder Cup. Why are you all dominating so much?
PAUL CASEY: Why are we dominating? I'm not sure we're dominating, but -- well, Ryder Cup we've dominated, I'll take that one (laughter).

Recently, recent success, I don't know, I mean we're all individuals, we're all working extremely hard. We know Rory's talent and ability and what a great display that was. But there was great golf by many Europeans at THE PLAYERS Championship. It looked odds on for a European winner.

Match play and Ryder Cup, I mean I've said it before, we grow up playing a lot of match play, as certainly the British kids do. That's what we do, week in, week out, club matches, county matches, club stuff, you just learn it. That's what we do. My weekends or Saturday match for the county would be foursomes in the morning and singles in the afternoon. It's what we always did. So you learn little tricks and little nuances of match play. There's no question it helps because on paper, I always thought -- the U.S. Ryder Cup team last year looked so good on paper. We had massive respect for them. We knew how dangerous they could be, but maybe it's the little things that make the difference.

Q. On that topic of nuances of match play, what's been the most entertaining or interesting bit of gamesmanship that you've ever encountered in a match?
PAUL CASEY: I remember there was -- how do I put it? I played a certain -- actually I don't remember who it was, but a certain Italian as a junior and it would have been the British boys, who spoke perfect English. And as I marked my ball, I was replacing my ball with about a ten-foot putt, and he was just in front of me, he had about an eight-foot putt and he looked at me, which I assumed and everybody would in the world of golf to just make sure, was his marker in my way. "Do I need to move my marker?" I said, "No, that's okay there." So he picked it up. And suddenly, for whatever reason, the English language suddenly departed him. And it was a great debate as to how he was explaining in very broken English, having gone from perfect English now to broken English, how I'd conceded the putt. And the Italian coach backed him up, which was even better.

We used to get all that stuff. I actually saw more of it as kids. And I think it was well documented that I never saw it personally, but we would hear the stories obviously of kids of Seve, the old white shoe moving on the tee, maybe some change in the pocket. We would hear those stories, I don't know whether they were true. Seve was my hero, so it was like, the ultimate competitor.

But as juniors that would get adopted, whether those stories were true or not, those kind of things happened. You don't see it now. It doesn't happen but it used to.

Q. Because everybody gets along better or just those little -- the art of match play has just changed?
PAUL CASEY: I think both. Everybody does get along, which is amazing, this many characters and egos, but we all seem to get along very well. I love the honesty and integrity of what golf is. Not a hundred percent but 99.9 percent of the time certainly the top echelon, we still call rules infractions upon ourselves, and I love that. There's no need to play any kind of games. You'd rather just beat somebody fair and square, it's much more satisfying.

Q. It has nothing to do with integrity, but haven't you played Jason Day in this format?
PAUL CASEY: Yes. I withdrew one year with injury.

Q. I could have sworn there was -- maybe it came from Jason's side, but he never gave any putt outside of about three inches?
PAUL CASEY: Oh, that happened, yeah, I think in Tucson or something like that. Somebody had written that I was giving him -- staring at him or I wasn't particularly happy, but then I expect to be asked to hole everything, as well. And there was never anything between us. We get along really well. But yeah, I remember that was a story that had popped up.

Q. I guess there was some rumblings about some changes to the format and where do you stand on that? What ideally would you like to see if they ever did change it again?
PAUL CASEY: I would say from wearing my players' hat, I would love to see straight knockout again. Lose and go home. But I understand it from trying to sell this from a corporate sponsor's point of view, from an entertainment point of view, you want as much golf as possibly on the weekend. I understand the millions of dollars spent to put on this great event and when you see somebody down on holes like 15 and they see like 20 minutes of golf on Saturday or Sunday, it's hard to justify the spend.

So, the player in me, yeah, if I lose on Wednesday, I want to go home. But I don't know what the solution is. Rex asked me yesterday, and I don't know if you've written anything, Rex, but I don't know. Because I know this is entertainment, this is a sport. So as much golf and excitement and drama to the end is ideal, but I don't know what the solution is.

Q. Obviously there are a lot more young winners on Tour these days and I'm wondering why you think that's happened over the last couple of years and how it affects the approach of veterans?
PAUL CASEY: Has the age changed, the average age of winners changed over the years? What was the question? Why is that?

Q. Why have some of the younger players been able to break through in the last few years and how does it affect the approach of maybe a veteran player?
PAUL CASEY: I think golf is -- certainly the way golf is played, tournament golf is played it's become much more aggressive. I think we can put a lot of that down to equipment and it takes something as simple as the size of club head, the size of the driver head. There's absolutely zero consequence now for going out at it a hundred percent, you can't miss a driver face. And they are so good that the ball very rarely is anywhere out of play, if a player is a world class player. So why not go at it a hundred percent or harder? That wasn't the case when I got out on Tour. Still using -- I wasn't quite Persimmon, I grew up using Persimmon, it was still steel shafted drivers and small heads, and you better be careful if you were taking a full cut at one, you'd top it, mis-hit, the consequences were too huge. You used to play within yourself. And then that would lead to just the way you would play the golf ball did different things. It was just a different time. Used to shape the golf ball more, the golf ball now goes very straight. Tiger has talked about it, and I agree, why wouldn't you play attacking golf? So from my angle I've had to change the way I've played golf. And if I don't now try to play the way the young guys play, I'd be left behind. I hit driver way more now than I used to. And it's kind of -- it's either kind of -- sometimes you've got to crash and burn, miss cuts or you'll have an amazing week and you've got a chance to win. It used to be more methodical and plodding your way around. The older guys, if they don't adapt they're gone, plain and simple. So I think that's why you're seeing young guys, when they come straight out of college that's the style of play. And if you don't modify -- I mean it's do or die kind of thing.

Q. Out of sheer curiosity did you watch the ping-pong ball, draw, bracket, whatever it's called last night?
PAUL CASEY: Only because -- I didn't purposely sit down to watch it. It happened to be on TV behind me.

Q. Did you care? Did you watch with much of interest or were you just kind of waiting to see what name showed up?
PAUL CASEY: I thought -- I was amazed how smart Mark Russell looked. He looked fantastic. The sound wasn't on (laughter) and I did have a drink in my hand, so it wasn't really -- there's intrigue, there's interest, yeah. What do you want me to say?

Q. I was curious if there's any anticipation in terms of who am I going to get or is it just like three names --
PAUL CASEY: I don't get too wrapped up. But, yeah, there's an interest, an intrigue and in the others. That group of Jason Day, and Phil Mickelson, and Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, wow. Last guy in might be the best guy in there now in terms of form. So, yeah.

Q. Do you know who you're playing tomorrow?
PAUL CASEY: Charles Howell -- no, no -- Ancer. Why is the draw not out for Friday, does anybody know? I can't see the tee times yet for Friday.

Q. It's based more if you're out of it they're going to take them off earlier.
NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, Paul, have a great week.

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