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January 31, 2021

Paul Casey

Dubaii, UAE

Emirates Golf Club

Press Conference

TOM CARLISLE: Paul Casey, OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic winner, 15-time European Tour winner, I think the smile on your face when you were with the trophy, that said everything. Can you put it into words?

PAUL CASEY: Thanks, Tom. Just very cool, mate. I'm so over the moon. Not just 15. The fact it's Dubai. It's an iconic event on The European Tour. You guys all know that. One of the coolest trophies around.

You know, and kind of the fact that last year, we're still in the middle of a pandemic, last year was just, you know, like a lot of people, rubbish. I didn't enjoy last year. This year is still, obviously we're still difficult times, isn't it.

But yeah, something very cool because it's not been great. I've not enjoyed my golf -- I didn't enjoy my golf in 2020. I mean, I played well one week but that was about it. So this is, yeah, this is really cool.

TOM CARLISLE: Last time you had a margin of victory of four strokes was 2003. How did it feel out there? Did it feel like that or is it one of those days where the score doesn't tell the full story.

PAUL CASEY: Probably doesn't tell the full story. It was tough. Didn't look at scoreboards all day. Got off to a great start. Really only hit one poor shot on the front nine and that was the 7-iron into the 8th I pulled into the bunker. But I walked to the 10th tee and said to Johnny, look, when you can say you've only hit one bad golf shot in nine holes, that's pretty good. And then really only hit one more poor shot on the back nine and that was another 7-iron into the bank on 15.

So I didn't look at the scoreboards until I got on to the 18th green and then I saw I had a three-shot margin there. It doesn't really tell the full picture. It was a lot tougher out there.

And for the record, playing with Rob today, great player. He's got a very strong possibility of being on Paddy's Ryder Cup team come later this year. He was brilliant. So it doesn't really paint the whole kind of picture.

Q Well-played today. You're very sort of calm and composed today. Was that something you were aware of? Is that something you've worked on in a really sort of composed performance?

PAUL CASEY: I think if you watched my performance at the US PGA Harding Park, that was a similar performance. I think that's -- I'll be honest, I'm still learning. I'm still getting better. I'm still growing up.

So yeah, something I've worked on. I take -- always like to learn from the guys I play against and compete with and against, and playing the best in the world guys like Dustin right now, sort of learning what they do and it something I've worked on.

Inside -- actually, inside I was pretty good, as well, but it's something I've worked on. I'm actually glad that it came across that way. That's pretty cool. So it's nice to hear.

Q You've already praised Bob. What was it that impressed you about him? His game, but he's got a good demeanor, as well, hasn't he.

PAUL CASEY: He does. He's got a good demeanor, very good demeanor. I think the main thing is it's very -- look, I couldn't really see a weakness there. Great attitude. He's a good ball-striker. A lot of good attributes, good player. He's got a good brain.

You know, I'd feel comfortable -- I'd feel very comfortable standing next to him on a first tee at Whistling Straits. You know, and he's only going to get better and better and better, and pretty fearless.

He was great to play with, and you can't always say that about guys. Really, he actually, if anything, helped me. So thanks, Bob.

Q It looks from the outside that this spell of your career is more enjoyable than when you were No. 3 in the world 12 years ago. Is that a fair comment and if so, why?

PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it's a fair comment, Ewan. I think -- doesn't matter which is first. I'm incredibly happy at home. I've got a great wife, kids, and I guess I kind of understand where golf kind of sits in my life and level of importance. I'm acutely aware, certainly, the last ten months or so of how fortunate I am.

And so -- but even before -- even before this pandemic, I've become very aware of how fortunate I am. But I'm also enjoying my golf and got to a stage where, look, there will be guys who say, look, he's not achieved what he should have achieved to this point. There will also be guys -- I've had guys saying I've over-performed, overachieved. Whatever; opinions are opinions.

But I feel -- I don't want to say content, that's the wrong word, but I feel kind of fine with where I'm at, and it doesn't mean I'm soft. It actually means I'm kind of pushing on and I'm at peace with whatever happens in terms of my golf career from here on.

So it actually means I've worked incredibly hard the last few months and I've literally gone foot down. Look, I'm in a good position. Golf courses are open in Arizona, which you can't say about a lot of places and I feel for my mates back in the U.K. where everything is shot and I've taken advantage of that and I've worked hard and played a lot of golf. And I'm like, I'm just going to make the most of this.

I've got great sponsors. I'm in a really good place. I'm just giving it 100 per cent --

Q Your Masters record -- sorry.

PAUL CASEY: With no -- there's no -- it doesn't matter. The consequences are kind of irrelevant, so why not go for it.

Q I was going to say, apart from a weird opening round in 2019, your Masters record is very good.

PAUL CASEY: There's a story about that, I'll tell you when it's not being recorded. Remind me of that. When we're one-on-one and it's not being recorded, I'll tell you, there's a bit of karma to do with that round of golf.

Q The point is, your general record is very good and it's always looked like that golf course suits you. Will you go there this year, especially you're in this frame of mind, I take it you still think, "I can win the Masters," right. That would be wholly legitimate?

PAUL CASEY: I need a bit of help. I need -- you look at Dustin or Rory. Rory's got a lot of pressure on him obviously but his game is unbelievable. There will be a lot of talk about Bryson obviously with his length.

But look, I need a bit of help from those guys, as well, don't I. Let's be honest, if we go my best golf against them, I'm going to get beaten. But I've got a good chance, you know. I've got a good chance.

I've switched drivers. So part of the reason for the good performance the last two weeks, I finished 8th last week in California and then obviously win today. I put a new driver in, and I don't often talk about equipment, but I put a Titleist driver in the bag. Don't ask me the exact specs, Tsi3 or something like that. But I feel like I'm driving the golf ball like I did when I was playing my best golf, when I was 3 in the world or whatever, and that's -- I feel like this rejuvenation.

Johnny and I, we committed to five years when we started this journey and last year was the end of five years. I said to him, you can't stop now. Like you've just had six months off with, you know, a COVID lockdown. You're not quitting on me now. That's unfair. You owe me at least six months. So I coaxed him back.

So new equipment; Johnny back, he's all excited. Yeah, we'll see.

Q Martin correctly said, you're very composed on the course but I've never seen you so emotional at the end actually. Can you remember when the last time you felt like that and explain a little more about the release and being able to do your job during this pandemic?

PAUL CASEY: I think I've cried 15 times on The European Tour. Yeah, I thought that, weirdly, I thought that when we went into this thing and when we started playing golf again in the States with no fans, there was a part of me that thought, well, this could be kind of interesting. This might be in a weird way, I don't want to say nice, but you know, no fans, it might be -- I don't know, it might be different. Might be enjoyable.

I've not enjoyed a minute of it. It's been totally soulless. No emotion. A whole bunch of feelings. I've not enjoyed it. And I've realised how much I love doing what I do, but I love doing it in the environment with people watching and the crowd and the noise and the -- it can be heckling, it can be cheering and seeing the emotion on people's faces and some people are rooting for the guy standing next to you, and some people are rooting for you. It's just everything. That's part of what we do.

It's like -- and mental health is something that's never talked about in sports, is it. Beef talked about it a little bit. And I -- it's just not been a fun time, plain and simple.

It doesn't look like that light at the end of the tunnel is very close, does it. It looks like we're deeper into it than we've ever been and it's all kicking off again with travel restrictions, but there were some people out this week. They were distanced. The members were out. They were kept away from us, a distance, up on grandstands and things, hospitality, and that was so cool.

So to come out of, yeah, not enjoying my golf; I didn't play well in 2020 to now here I am rejuvenated, as I said, sponsors, new equipment, and a couple of people standing around a golf course, I feel like it's -- I feel totally different. So that's part of it.

Q Can I just ask, The Ryder Cup is hopefully, we're looking forward to getting a crowd hopefully in September and everything. How much does that motivate you and have you seen Pádraig today?

PAUL CASEY: Oh, yeah, I saw him this morning and then I saw him -- I saw him this morning at my COVID test, and then I saw him on the range this morning. We talked more, and I saw him as soon as I got done. He was right there waiting for me, which was very, very cool.

Look, there's a long way to go. I'd love to be part of his team and if -- in any capacity. I'd obviously love to be on the golf course, first, because I think that's where I'm most usual and if I'm not on the golf course, I'd still love to be part of his team and do my bit for your open. Paris was the greatest experience I've had, and I know, or I think, I think Whistling Straits is going to be a battle. It's always difficult on their turf.

And I also hope that we've got a ton of fans, and I don't know how it's going to happen -- if people are vaccine advocated, I don't know how it's going to happen. But I hope we have a ton of people and I hope it happens and I hope I'm part of it. There's a lot of hoping, isn't it.

Q Was Pádraig delighted to see you playing so well?

PAUL CASEY: Yeah, he just said well done, basically. I'm a long way back in points. Points last week didn't count because any event opposite a Rolex Series Event event, you don't count those points, so my World Ranking points last week in California don't count. That's just one of those things, isn't it. That's the rules.

But it just means I'm a bit behind (laughing), so this is a big boost. And I didn't make the team technically on merit for Thomas, either, and I want to make the team. I don't like being a pick, if I can help it. I'll accept it, but I don't really want to if I can.

Q I just wonder when you make the decision that you're going to travel, literally, halfway around the world to come and play a tournament to actually justify it with a victory, does that make it all the sweeter?

PAUL CASEY: Yes. Yeah, you know, going back to -- I missed it last year. I missed golf. I didn't play -- I didn't set foot in Europe let alone the U.K. last year. I haven't seen my parents in an awful long time. The last event I played was in 2019 on The European Tour.

So knowing -- also knowing that we weren't going to get away with not playing any events like last year, Ryder Cup, you know, things to qualify for, I was going to make a commitment and a commitment early.

Yes, it's always satisfying when you've made that commitment, big commitment. It's a big commitment for every guy, but you know, 16 hours, well, it's longer, because that's from L.A. to get out here. You know, very gratifying when that happens, and luckily I've got a half-decent record of doing that.

Q Does it bring a pressure with it as well? Do you think that concentrated your mind more than, say, you were playing at Torrey Pines?

PAUL CASEY: No, that's a little unfair. But if you've got the guys who are the headline guys this week with the names on the poster and on the tickets -- no tickets obviously this week -- but there's always a pressure. You feel an obligation and you've got to step up and show why you're there, show why you're a headline player.

You know, there wasn't a lot of time -- I arrived here Tuesday night. I got on a plane Monday from Palm Springs last week, drove to LAX, L.A. to here, worried about making sure I'm being safe because I don't want to fly here and be expected to perform and I test positive for COVID.

By the way, The European Tour have been doing a great job with keeping everybody in our bubble.

Yeah, I feel good about that. Any time I get on a plane and go anywhere, I commit. I guess there is more pressure when you come somewhere like this. But if I were at Torrey Pines this week, I'd still give 100 per cent. But I guess I feel a little bit more pressure, because the pressure is coming from the sponsors.

TOM CARLISLE: Thank you very much for your time.

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