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February 28, 2007

Paul Casey


CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Thanks for joining us for this afternoon's press conference for the Johnnie Walker Classic. Paul, you enjoyed a great start to the year with a win in Abu Dhabi, and you must be happy with your form coming into the week.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it's pretty good. I got knocked out of the quarterfinals last week in the Match Play, but that was the furthest I got in that event; in the four previous attempts couldn't get past the first round. I was pretty happy with that, and I came up against Geoff Ogilvy who played very, very good golf. I did give him a couple of holes and he played some good stuff.
And congratulations to Henrik for going on and winning it because that's very good for The European Tour.
So I'm very happy with the game, it's very nice to be here, it's a long trip, but I've got the legs moving because they were a little lethargic and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: This is your first trip to Blue Canyon; how do you find the golf course?
PAUL CASEY: The golf course is great. It's in wonderful shape. It's pretty much what I expected: Grainy greens, thick grasses around the greens, which is difficult to control the ball out of and lots of water. You know, it's a golf course that combines in certain places. It's tricky. You have to have very good control of the golf ball and put the ball in specific areas off the tee, and if you do that it can be very rewarding. And it can also be a golf course that can grab you if you're not careful.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Adam Scott was just in here and he mentioned you as one of the guys in form this week, playing well in the last six months. When you hear comments like this, do you get a bit of a lift?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it's very nice of him to say. Adam is one of the guys I'm going to have beat this week if I want to be near the top of the leaderboard.
We've got a stellar field here. Adam has been working extremely hard on his game. You know, he has not played the golf recently that he's wanted to play, but I see him in the gym and he's really dedicating himself right now. So I think he's a very big threat this week. He's fourth in the world, something like that. So it's amazing, he has not played the golf he's wanted to play, and he's fourth in the world, which tells you something; there's a lot to expect from Adam.
But there's a lot of guys this week who are capable of shooting some very low numbers around here. If I can put myself in contention on Sunday, then we'll see what happens, but it's a stellar field once again and I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Monty was talking about sort of the changing of the guard with all of you young ones coming up. Can you give me just a sort of brief summary of what has lifted you all up so quickly? Is it Tiger? Is it sort of the variety of tournaments? What is it that's brought you all on so fast?
PAUL CASEY: Well, what do you mean by "fast," Lewine?

Q. Well, there's a lot of players in their 20s, you know, we used to think that players didn't peak until maybe 30 or more, and now you're suddenly getting players getting almost as good as they can be a bit younger.
PAUL CASEY: I agree. But I do think a lot of the young guys, I'm clinging onto my 20s just. We've been out here quite a while now, and I think it's just taken a while for guys to get comfortable.
You know, it has not been through lack of efforts or determination. Everybody's been working extremely hard. It's just taken a while for guys to get comfortable. You've seen that now with -- you look at the Match Play last week, a lot of the guys just under 30 or just over 30, the younger groups, should we say, now we're sort of changing of the guard. Doesn't mean that the older guys are playing poor golf. I just think that the younger guys are feeling very, very comfortable and confidence is coming through and the hard work is paying off.
But I don't think it's an overnight thing. I mean, it's just -- five, six years I've been professional now, and every year I feel I'm getting more comfortable on the golf course. I'm getting used to the venues we're playing, the traveling. So I don't think it's sort of an overnight thing. It's not like it's just changed. It's just been building slowly.
It is nice to see the younger guys coming through. Hopefully we can at majors and things like that. But a lot of it, I think a big part of it is mental maturity. And maybe guys are just a little bit more mature now, reaching maturity at a younger age, sort of 30 rather than 35 as it used to be.

Q. How much of a gear change is it for you from the conditions you were playing in last week coming to the sort of rarified atmosphere to coming here and facing the conditions of Asian golf?
PAUL CASEY: Playing in hail and now coming into 90 per cent humidity, slightly different.
Overall I feel pretty good. I think part of the reason I feel pretty good is I've been working out hard and the conditioning helps. But it's still very, very tough. The flying is the big thing. I had 19 hours on a plane not including layovers, so it's just a very long distance to fly, and unfortunately not long enough time to really get acclimatised. I only landed yesterday morning.
So today the legs felt very heavy on the golf course, even more so than a regular Pro-Am. It will be fine for tomorrow. I have an afternoon tee time, so it should be all right. But it's very difficult. I mean, I wouldn't trade it, because I enjoy the travel and I enjoy coming to wonderful places like Phuket, but it is tough on the body. It would be nice to have a couple of extra days. I'd like to have my own plane.

Q. You were just talking about mental toughness and some of the younger guys, your rise in the last six months, can you really sort of pinpoint why you have got so much better, and have you set any goals this year?
PAUL CASEY: The reason I think my golf is really sort of jumped up a notch is probably because of goals. I think this time last year I was outside his office and that was a nice -- I decided with Peter Kostis, or he decided it wasn't really me. We changed the way I set out my goals from the long-term goals I always have at the end of the year, the career goals, to very short-term goals. And being outside of the Top-50 sort of helped in that decision because the immediate goal was to get back in the Top-50 and once I had achieved that, we then structured a goal sort of every week, every couple of weeks and even daily goals.
It kept me very focused. It kept me very much in the now, in the moment, and I didn't let the mind wander sort of too far ahead. So I was really able to put the work in and see results and see the scores very, very quickly. And I think that's the reason why the golf has gone that way. You know, for example, trying to get into the World Match Play was a big goal, and once I got into The Match Play, quickly the goal was then just to see how far we could get. Plus winning that was a huge boost of confidence, as was the Ryder Cup.
This year, the goals, I would love to be in the Top-10 in the world, try to get in there as soon as possible, and slowly move up. It's very difficult to do, because I won a particular number of points last week and didn't go anywhere in the World Rankings. You suddenly have to really raise your game up another level.
The usual goals, majors on list again. Put myself in contention this year as many times as possible, see what happens. Order of Merit is back on there. I mean, there's lots of things, but I'm also keeping a lot of short-term goals. This week, the goal is again trying to get myself into contention and try and win the Johnnie Walker Classic if possible.

Q. You're becoming a regular winner, where do you see yourself in world golf, what's your potential?
PAUL CASEY: I haven't thought that far ahead. I mean, my golf game is capable of being a consistent Top-10 player.

Q. Better than that?
PAUL CASEY: I hope so. I mean, I can't ask for that. I hope it is. I'm putting in the work. I want it to be better than that and I hope it is. You know, I think I've got the game. I'm capable of hitting the golf shots; it's whether I can, you know, focus the mind. I think you've got to want to be in that select group. You've got to want to be one of the best players in the world. If you couldn't have -- there's been a few guys in history who have got to, let's say, No. 1 spot and not enjoyed it and dropped out because for whatever reason, it's just not what they wanted or expected.
So, yeah, I need to work hard on the mental side of things and really push myself. But I think the golf game is good enough.

Q. You have a pretty good record out here in Asia, what do you put that down to?
PAUL CASEY: I have absolutely no idea. Possibly the golf course. Some of the tournaments I have won out here have been Trent Jones Jr. designs which I like. The wins in U.K. were on Trent Jones Jr. Visually quite appealing golf courses to play. Right out in front of you, trick you up a little bit, but they allow me to use the driver a lot. The golf courses for scoring is usually pretty low, something I enjoy. So maybe that's the reason.
You know, very, very difficult to grow -- obviously the rough is thick here, but generally, they are fairly generous fairways and the golf courses over here allow you to attack the green and attack the flag and make a lot of birdies, and I like that kind of golf.

Q. But this is a bit different.
PAUL CASEY: Birdies are very possible but you can get bit. I mean, that 14th hole is one of the smallest par 3 greens I have ever seen, especially when you're hitting a 6-iron. It's going to be interesting. It's a golf course I'm not familiar with. I'd like to think I'm very good at learning golf courses.
And the Pro-Am was great today. We had a lot of fun out there and I felt like, okay, now I know the golf course, but you've got to put it in the right position, because if you don't, then you can make some numbers.

Q. Colin was just in and he said has his eye on the world Top 10; do you think he's still capable of doing that, achieving that goal?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, without a doubt. He's got the golf game. He told me last night he had been working out hard.
I think he does. I think he's very capable of getting back in the Top-10. When Monty puts his mind to it -- when I say that, if you look at him in the Ryder Cup, he produces phenomenal golf in various occasions. You know, for whatever reason, if he feels like he's got something to prove, if there's a crowd, whatever it might be; you tell Monty he can't do something, he will go and do it just to prove you wrong. If Monty wants to get back in the Top-10, I firmly believe that he can get there.

Q. Just an aside, but you didn't compare training regimes with Monty, did you?

Q. Fair enough. What sort of players come to mind, somebody who you thought was not enjoying being No. 1, or somebody who looked as if they were not enjoying being No. 1?

Q. You said a lot of people got to No. 1 in the past and not necessarily looked as if they were enjoying it.
PAUL CASEY: Baker-Finch; Duval. I don't know what Baker-Finch got to in the world. Maybe I should take that back. Certainly two players who, I think it's been documented that it sort of wasn't what they expected or they didn't enjoy. They certainly didn't wake up and feel any different. I mean, you have to ask them, but it's -- you know, maybe they didn't enjoy the limelight.
There's a lot that goes with being a top player in the world, not just world No. 1, but Top-10 or Top-5. You know, it's multiplied, the attention, the scrutiny. So you have to be, like winning a major, I think you have to be accepting of everything that goes with that, and that's not just the rewards, but that's also the spotlight. And if you're not ready for that, then deep down, I don't think you can commit 100% to putting everything into trying to accomplish that goal.

Q. You don't think it just came down to the fact that they lost their game?
PAUL CASEY: I'd like to say no, because I don't think -- they are too good. I've never played with Finchie, but I've played with David, and no, I don't believe that.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Okay, Paul, thanks for joining us and all the best this week.

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