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March 15, 2007
JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Paul Casey. Nice round today. Maybe just talk a little about the 64, bogey-free, and we'll open it up for questions.
PAUL CASEY: I think it was the best start to a tournament I've had so far this year. That was a blemish-free round of golf. Struck the ball nicely. Had a lot of fun playing with Rocco Mediate today. We just enjoyed ourselves all the way around. Got a little stale in the middle and then finished it off, and I think it was one of the toughest finishing holes out here. Although it was tame today because it was downwind. To birdie 18 was fantastic. So I'm ecstatic with that round of golf.
JOE CHEMYCZ: What did you hit in there?
PAUL CASEY: 3-wood, 9-iron. Hopefully Arnie doesn't change it.
Q. (What was the key to the round today?)
PAUL CASEY: It was soft. The greens were very receptive. I think that was the key. Simple as that. If you had a good lie in the fairway and the right club in hand you could really attack the flag. That's why I was lucky today, I had a lot of good yardages. I had a lot of clubs which were right on the number, and allowed me to go, you know, sometimes straight at the flag like I did on 18. That's just the way it goes sometimes.
But the rough was thick. I was just lucky, I only found it once or twice and when I did find it, I pulled pretty good lies, but it could go the other way.
Q. Rocco Mediate's college roommate said there was a bit of good sportsmanship on the 15th green. Talk about that, if you will. Somebody marked a ball that they didn't have to mark a ball and it turned out good. I'm just going by what he said.
PAUL CASEY: I don't know what happened on 15. I made birdie. Rocco unfortunately made bogey -- yeah, that's not great sportsmanship, is it?
I'd love to elaborate on what happened but I'm not sure what the gentleman was talking about.
Q. Caught a snippet of what you told the GOLF CHANNEL afterward, something to the effect of, "pretty much my best round of golf ever around here." Looked it up in the record books and you played one round here and never came back. What happened that year and you've been scarce around here ever since?
PAUL CASEY: I had to -- I was sick that year. I don't remember what I shot the first year, what was it?
PAUL CASEY: I was sick the second day. I had to see a doctor.
I've wanted to come back. It's very difficult with the schedule I've been playing the past few years. It's difficult this year with the schedule I've been playing.
But you know, what I did remember of this golf course, I thought it was very challenging. I would obviously want to come play here because it's Mr. Palmer's event. It's a fantastic field. It's nice that it sort of panned out well the week before a World Golf Championships event, which adds to why we have such a great field here this week.
But I can honestly now say I do enjoy the golf course having now played it twice.
Q. When did you decide you were playing here?
PAUL CASEY: Late-ish. I had not really made up my mind until the season had started. It's just trying to balance. I mean, I haven't even thought past the Masters right now because it's just, for the guys who are playing an international schedule, it's very difficult this year with a lot of flying around.
I think I counted, I've got 11 long-haul flights from the beginning of the year and May. So it's trying to pick the weeks where I can rest, but I thought this was such a great opportunity, it's positioned nicely and it's a great golf event.
Q. When did you actually decide?
PAUL CASEY: Probably a month or so ago, a month and a half maybe.
Q. Considering the benign conditions today, have you thought about what this course will play like if the wind does kick up?
PAUL CASEY: Very difficult. If the wind picks up, the greens will dry out as well, so it will compound the difficulty. And I'm sure they are going to firm up as the week goes on.
You know, I thought starting out today, I thought it would be good. I would be very happy if I shot something in the 60s, so 64 is great. But I think come the weekend, if it does suddenly get windy and the greens firm up, I would be very happy if I got something in the 60s.
Q. What are your memories about Arnold Palmer? Do you have any memories of watching him play senior events?
PAUL CASEY: No, not really. I never had the opportunity to watch Mr. Palmer play in person, and I was probably -- I won't say I was in school doing schoolwork. I was probably too busy on the practice ground as a kid practicing to watch him in senior tour events.
I think he's a wonderful ambassador of the game and you know, if I have the opportunity to come play in his event, and it's the same for Jack at the Memorial; then I feel I should turn up and play in those guys events. They are the guys who defined our game and made it what it is today and it's a wonderful game.
Q. What particularly worked for you today?
PAUL CASEY: The putter worked today. The putter has not been good the last few weeks and the putter behaved itself. I did a lot of work with (Peter) Kostis the last week. Dubai is sort of where it -- after I won in Abu Dhabi, it went downhill a bit. I putted really poorly in Qatar and Dubai.
It wasn't too bad in Tucson, but the posture got a little slumped, shoulders rounded. I wasn't in a good position to hit good putts. It's as simple as that.
So we worked very hard on the posture and then tried to build up the confidence last week and seems to have worked very nicely.
Q. What would it mean to win a big tournament in the States like this?
PAUL CASEY: It's without a doubt one of the top goals, and if it was an event where we have a stellar field like this -- I mean, every week in America has a stellar field, but we've got, you know, the world's best here. We've got Tiger playing. It's also Mr. Palmer's event so that would make it doubly special.
And if I had to pick one, this would be a very nice one, but there's a lot of golf to be played before then.
Q. How familiar are you with Vaughn Taylor, with whom you share the lead?
PAUL CASEY: He's quiet. (Laughter) I don't know Vaughn very well.
My brief sort of encounters with Vaughn have included the U.S. Team trying to get -- especially Jim Furyk, trying to get Vaughn to sing karaoke, and failing. So he's just a shy guy, you know. He seems a very nice guy. But he probably hasn't said more than two words to me. (Laughter).
Q. Notwithstanding the lack of wind today, the three closing holes here, where would they rank among the toughest closing stretches that you've experienced?
PAUL CASEY: I think now because of the par situation, just trying to think, right up there.
Q. Like Wachovia?
PAUL CASEY: I haven't played Wachovia. But extremely difficult. Again, as you say, because of the wind today, slightly was benign.
If the wind turns around and you play 17, 18 into the wind, then they are as tough as anything. It's as simple as that. It obviously makes 16 a little easier but then again, 16 green is a par-5 green still.
It's not designed for long irons or making any putts easy, to be honest. So even if that hole suddenly became a shorter second shot, it would still be an extremely difficult par 4.
So I think they are hard holes. Maybe they are not as hard as Sawgrass, TPC Sawgrass, but it all depends on the wind.
Q. It's been 29 majors since a European has won a major. Does that get play over in Europe? Does that get attention over in Europe?
PAUL CASEY: Yes. (Laughter).
Q. Do you have any reasons why that is and how much attention is it getting?
PAUL CASEY: It gets more and more attention every major.
I can't explain why. I mean, you know, obviously Tiger's made it very tough for guys. He's taken away half the opportunities, and the other great players in the world have taken away the other half. Yeah, it's getting tough but I think the talent has been there in the past, and I can't explain why guys didn't win majors over the past 29 occasions.
I do think, however, we have a bunch of guys coming through now, not that the older guys have disappeared by any means. Björn, Clarke, Harrington, those sort of players, especially Björn, they have come very, very close and I still think those guys are very, very hungry for it and have the ability.
But now we have guys like Donald and Howell and Stenson to name a couple of guys who not only have the skill but they also have the desire and the determination and the drive and want to win a major, and, you know, accepting of everything that will go with that once they win. So hopefully they can hurry up -- somebody can hurry up and win one.
I need to keep working very hard and I think I can get close. So it's my ultimate goal to win a major, and hopefully it will be as soon as possible. And when somebody does, I think the flood gates will open. It's a shame it's been 29 occasions.
Q. I'm just curious as to whether there will come a day when you'll be playing this tour primarily and then picking off a few to keep your card overseas versus the way it is now; it's kind of the inverse of that, since you're about half-American anyway.
PAUL CASEY: I think it will change. I would love to play both. A jet would help. (Laughter) So I'm just a few million, dozen -- a few dozen million short right now.
I will always play in Europe. But I agree with you, there will be a time when, certainly with the quality of the events over here, I think it would be the other way around. To try to get the exact number and the blend is going to be difficult. I don't know how many I'll play this year.
Obviously I'm not a member of the PGA TOUR right now. So I don't know. I think 11 or 12. I don't know how many I will play this year, but I would like to increase that. If I have the opportunity, if I win enough money this week to take my card, I'll take it, because I'd like to be part of the FedExCup.
Q. Playing as a temporary member?
PAUL CASEY: Exactly. However it works.
Q. What will you do the up through the Masters?
PAUL CASEY: I'm going to play next week, have the week off before the Masters. I would like to go down and visit, I'd like to sneak in a practice round, because I haven't played it in a couple of years and haven't seen it firsthand. Try to relax as much as possible and get the short game sharp.
Q. How much does the Masters play in your world, and how does your game set up for Augusta?
PAUL CASEY: I think my game sets up very nicely for it. High ball flight with the irons. I know I can shape the ball both ways if I need to. And if the putter works, then that's always handy around there. And for me the Masters is -- I mean, the Open is the one I would like to win because it's my sort of -- it's my National Championship.
But the Masters is always the one I grew up as a kid watching late at night on TV and it's really cool. The fact that it's always at Augusta National, the -- I don't have to tell you. Just the sort of nuances, the quirkiness, the cool bits, the locker room, the tradition and caddies in the overalls. It's a very, very close second to the Open for me. And I know Europeans have got a good history there.
I think it provides the best opportunity I have for winning a major, so that's why I focus on it so much and I'll be working very, very hard in that week between Doral and the Masters trying to get the game as sharp as possible.
Q. Will you stay here?
PAUL CASEY: I'll go back to Scottsdale.
PAUL CASEY: Why? Why what?
Q. Why do you think it provides the best opportunity for you to win a major?
PAUL CASEY: Because of my style of play. Length off the tee, high ball flight with the irons, I'm a good putter when I get it going, good enough short game. It's all right there, and I love the place.
The Open is something very different. You have to have great imagination, you have to have then the execution to go with that imagination. And I haven't had that variety in my game that I need to to really play well at the Open and I'm trying to develop that. The controlling the ball flight, knocking the ball down, hitting the shots, I've not played that -- I haven't for whatever reason, I just haven't had that kind of control over the golf ball, and that's what I need at an Open Championship.
Augusta, although the Open is the one I want to win the most, Augusta provides the best opportunity and it's a very close second anyway.
Q. You mentioned in an article that you feel like Augusta National is everybody's home course. Can you elaborate on that?
PAUL CASEY: Did I?
Q. Golf Digest.
PAUL CASEY: Really? I wish it was my home course.
Q. Because everybody knows the holes.
PAUL CASEY: Well, yes, I think it is because everybody is familiar with it. I certainly wish it was my home place.
When I first turned up in 2004, I certainly felt a familiarity with Augusta National. You know, I wanted to stand there on certain holes and try and replicate shots that I had seen on TV or putts that I had seen go in.
So I think, yeah, everybody knows it; Amen Corner, people know the holes you're talking about. Yeah, I think it's just one of the coolest golf courses I've ever played. It's a fun golf course; at the same time it can be the most penal golf course on the planet.
But great golf shots are rewarded at Augusta National and that's how they set it up. They can set it up to infuriate the players, but they are still allowing a great golf shot to be rewarded. It's a beautiful blend.
Q. It seems like last year after the Ryder Cup, you stepped and you were so confident in your game and you played so well there. What did that do as far as you being able to think bigger?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it did a lot. My singles match against Jim was some of the finest golf I've played. It had to be to beat him. He pushed me all the way. I mean, the Ryder Cup I think being part of that team just helped build everybody's confidence. It was a wonderful week, wonderful memories, but I also played the golf I wanted to play that week.
I feel like I've had to -- in the past six months or so, I've had to sort of -- I've played some great golf but I've had to also step up mentally and suddenly accept that I'm in the Top 15 in the world and keep pushing and not sort of rest on my laurels and sort of ease off.
I've got to keep pushing, accept that I'm now one of those players that people sort of look, well, he's got the possibility of doing this and that, and I need to back it up. I need to keep working hard and producing results, and I need to produce results over here because I haven't yet, so that's the next goal.
Q. As far as the Ryder Cup, I wonder about one thing, one thing that struck me as odd is it's a country versus a continent. You have a wide variety of countries, Spain, England, Switzerland; do you come together with a sense of camaraderie as if you're playing for something, like the U.S. is playing for something, or is it more against playing against the big, bad boy the United States who dominated for so long? Is it getting up for the big opponent that brings you guys together?
PAUL CASEY: Although we are a continent, we are very much a unit. Guys know each other, I was going to say intimately, but that sounds bad. (Laughter) The guys know each other very well. Although many different languages are spoken on the team, I don't think -- for that week, everybody checks their egos at the door and plays for one another and plays for Europe. And certainly we try and look at it -- look at ourselves as if we are the underdogs and we try to take on the all mighty U.S., because if you look at World Rankings or something like that, okay, we're getting closer, but the U.S. Team is always much stronger on paper.
Q. Do you guys have a motivational advantage over the American team because they are facing a diffuse thing, Europe, where you guys are all drawing together to face the world's superpower in the United States, is there an advantage to you guys there in coming together?
PAUL CASEY: I can certainly see the difference between -- yes, you're getting motivated to play the U.S., and I could see how it would be difficult for the U.S. guys to get motivated to play Europe. It doesn't sound as good, I know; Europe.
But we're not going to worry about that. We motivate ourselves just fine. We're very happy with the contest right now and we don't think that it's easy. It's extremely difficult. We feel we've played some very good golf in the past few Ryder Cups. We don't think it's going to be easy in the future either.
So I think we've given the U.S. plenty to be motivated about. If they can't get motivated after the last two, then I don't know.
Q. Pigging-backing off that previous question, is there a sense of you guys pulling for each other to win majors, like Bernhard Langer saying, I've got two Masters, your time is come, it fits your game kind of thing?
PAUL CASEY: I think so a little bit. Yeah, I can -- I would agree with that. Maybe not -- if you look at the whole European thing, maybe not all Europeans. There are certainly little groups who get on better than others, but the British guys all hang out together and the Swedes all hang out together. There's definitely -- and there's a few sort of players who crossover between the groups. But it's all one. It's all close to being one big, happy family.
I had Henrik Stenson spend some time at my house before the Match Play. He came over for a couple of days and we hung out and practiced at Whisper Rock and worked out and whatever. We hung out. So there's a lot of -- and so I would say that guys do root for each other. When I saw him here this week, I congratulated him on his win because I had not seen him. A lot of that goes on. I don't know if that goes on in the U.S. because I don't know enough of the guys well enough to -- I imagine it does. But it certainly happens in Europe. Guys are encouraging each other. And they use it as motivation, when one guy wins, Henrik winning the Match Play, I use it as motivation. He's not coming to stay at my house again. (Laughter).
JOE CHEMYCZ: Thank you.
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