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June 15, 2007
RAND JERRIS: We are now joined by Paul Casey, with a 4-under round of 66 today and plus three for the championship. On a day when scoring conditions seemed much more difficult, your score improved 11 strokes for the better. What was the difference for you today?
PAUL CASEY: Thank you. Thank you for reminding me of that.
I don't know what the difference was. Yesterday was disappointing. I worked very, very hard on the game with Peter Kostis after the Memorial last week and I was excited to be playing at Oakmont. So the 77 yesterday was disappointing. It felt a little bit like the Masters again when I started poorly there.
The goal today was to go out and shoot something level, a couple over maybe if I could do that and finish below probably 10-over or so, I'm not sure what the cut line was going to be, and try and get into the weekend.
So 66 is way beyond my expectations and I'm still a bit surprised at the score I shot today.
RAND JERRIS: Take a moment and walk us through the birdies and bogeys, please.
PAUL CASEY: We started on the 10th. 2-iron from the tee. I hit an 8-iron from about 165, left myself 45 feet which I holed, which would have gone about ten feet by.
No. 12, the par 5, driver off the tee, 4-iron lay up, left myself 99 yards, hit a lob-wedge to nine feet for birdie.
On 14, 4-iron off the tee, 125, hit a 52-degree wedge to about a foot and a half.
No. 17, 4-iron off the tee, left myself 95 yards, hit a lob-wedge to 15 feet, a left-to-righter there.
No. 18, the bogey, driver off the tee, pushed a 7-iron right from 175 yards, lob-wedge, pitch to six feet and lipped out.
No. 7, driver, right side of the fairway, 7-iron, I think it was about 200 yards downwind and holed a 15-footer.
Q. Monty often talks about his 65 at Congressional as being the best round of his life. Wonder where you would put this in your career as a round of golf, and secondly, what did Stewart say to you afterwards?
PAUL CASEY: This is right up there in terms of best round ever. If I had kept the bogey off the card, without a doubt it would have been. But I consider the U.S. Open to be the toughest test in golf. This is possibly the toughest golf course I've ever played, and I feel very, very lucky to have shot 66 on it.
So, yeah, I think it's, right now, because it's fresh in the memory, without a doubt, it's the best round of golf I've ever played.
I've shot lower numbers, I've holed out shots, but there is no -- there is no rest out there. So ecstatic with that.
What did Stewart Cink say to me? I'm not going to tell the whole sort of sentence -- why would I? You're rolling your eyes. He basically congratulated me on a fine round of golf.
Q. Did he say, "Great play"?
PAUL CASEY: Honest truth is, I can't remember exactly what he said. (Laughter).
Q. Were you aware that the guys on the practice green because of the unique setup here, were actually applauding you, the players and caddies?
PAUL CASEY: I have to say, I was nervous over the foot and a half for the 66. It's terrible playing in front of -- I don't like playing in front of my peers. It's one thing if you're in a group and you're playing with the guys. But when they stand around and watch, I feel like everybody's critiquing.
I saw a few guys who sort of acknowledged before I tapped in. Nick Dougherty walked off the green and pointed at me and gave me the thumbs-up. Ricky Barnes followed because he was playing together. Monty and Chris DiMarco, sort of shrugging their shoulders, giving me that, how-on-earth-have-I-shot-that sort of look, which I returned. And I had a lot of guys say, "Great round of golf," when I walked off the green. And I wasn't completely aware of everybody sort of watching or applauding, but I did get a sense that, I know, guys were aware of what was going on.
But genuinely, it's a great -- it's kind of a cool deal playing into the ninth green. It's very strange trying to find the pin because everybody is moving around and you can't quite see it. But it's nerve-wracking, but also fun playing in front of those guys.
Q. Paul, well done, first of all. But you said that something clicked between yesterday and today after you practiced on the range; can you tell us what it was?
PAUL CASEY: I think I got maybe a little wrapped up in technique, in trying to swing the club correctly rather than hitting golf shots. It's only my own fault.
But you know, I wasn't swinging it very well the last couple of months. Struggled with the game all the way up to sort of Memorial was the last event I played and then I saw Peter and we worked on stuff, and I think I just got too caught up yesterday in trying to -- you know, if I swing the club correctly, then surely the golf ball is going to go in the right direction, which is not the way I play golf.
So after an hour figuring that out on the range, it probably served me very well, because I walked off the range in frustration and started off well this morning and got back to what I do best which is swinging the golf club. I don't know, just swing it and not worry about it too much.
Q. You've talked a lot over the last couple of years about getting into the mix at the majors and kind of the next threshold for you. Given you struggled your first round at the Masters, whether you're piling pressure on a little too much since you did effectively the same thing yesterday, two majors in a row, and you obviously showed you can play these courses and play with these guys and get in your own way in the first round.
PAUL CASEY: I think that's a very good observation and I would agree with you. You know, they are -- I'd love to win a major, but I think you're right. I think I've certainly got in my way in the past and probably got in my own way yesterday.
Looking at -- I don't like statistics. I'm not a big one for them. But Peter Kostis told me that -- I'm not sure whether he's 100% accurate, but he told me that I shot the lowest 54 holes, the last 54 holes at Winged Foot last year and may have been low or tied for low at this year's Masters for the last 54. So I can clearly --
Q. You're going to kill them on the Champions Tour.
PAUL CASEY: Thank you.
Q. Three rounds.
PAUL CASEY: I actually played -- I kept score on Wednesday this week. I played with Sergio and Luke and I kept score, and I thought maybe that would get rid of the first round sort of --
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, but clearly didn't.
No, but I think you're right. You know, I prepared thoroughly and maybe I put too much pressure on myself, but now I'm off and running so I can enjoy the last three days.
Q. Coming off seven with that birdie, you put your tee shot on 8 into the bunker; how important was it to get that sand save and get up-and-down and maybe kind of finish off that round?
PAUL CASEY: I was just worried about not getting a bad time because John Paramour put us on the clock.
It was very important. I was hoping I could get in on 4-under but would have taken 3-under, or 2-under, I know how tough it was out there today. Anything in the 60s was a tremendous round of golf. So I didn't put too much pressure on myself. Even though the crowds were fantastic, they were willing the golf ball to go in the hole from the bunker and I had a perfect lie in the bunker which helped. I was just trying -- just trying to speed things up, because we seemed to be on the clock two or three times so far in the first two days.
Q. If you could also describe your bunker shot on 6, and following the short birdie opportunity on 5, how crucial was that in keeping the round going?
PAUL CASEY: 5 was disappointing. I hit a good shot in there, getting back to the swing, I didn't fancy cutting a 7-iron on 5. So I just hung the 8-iron out on the right edge of the green, and it turned over with the wind. Missing the 7, 8 footer was disappointing. Because there's so many putts out there that you cannot give them too much of a go because if you catch an edge, you'll be six or eight feet down on the other side. And I quit on that putt, which was really frustrating.
6, again, I felt I was in between clubs today a lot, and rather than trying to pull off the sort of brave or so-called correct shot, the cut 5, I hit a hard 6. The bunker wasn't a bad place to be. I could see Stewart Cink played it past and rolled it back and I was trying to do the same thing. But you cannot bite off too much because if you try and play it bad and you get stuck, you look like a fool.
The putt was incredibly slippery. That green is going to get really quick this afternoon. We've been pretty lucky so far I think but the greens haven't been -- they haven't turned blue, they haven't sort of -- they haven't turned, but 6 looks like it might pretty soon.
This golf course can -- I know the scores are quite high today, and I shot a low number, but I don't think we've seen half of Oakmont yet.
Q. What was your score on Wednesday?
PAUL CASEY: I shot 1-under. I won dinner, so it's on record, from Sergio's father. Victor owes me dinner.
Q. When Johnny Miller shot his 63, one quote was what was going through your mind on the golf course and he was quoted -- attributed to have said, "Nothing at all." Did you have any of that going on out there? I guess there's a zone question; were you in that thing?
PAUL CASEY: There's rarely anything going through my mind when I'm playing golf. But today, yeah, no very little going through.
You know I probably wasn't smiling much. I wasn't really talking much. But then again, nothing was really bothering me that much. Pulled a divot -- pulled a sandy divot lie on 2. Didn't really bother me.
So, yeah, I don't think much was going through the mind. Is that all -- was that one question or two questions?
Q. The first one was what you shot on Wednesday.
PAUL CASEY: Oh.
Q. Seeing that 66 on the board, what effect mentally do you think that might have on the rest of the field that someone out there proved that can it be done at cruel Oakmont?
PAUL CASEY: They probably will think I walked off after 14. (Laughter).
They are probably thinking how on earth did I shoot that. And I'm still a bit stunned at it. But I hope it gives -- I hope it gives some of the guys some hope out there and some -- show them that it can be done. I certainly don't want the USGA to make it any tougher. You know, I wouldn't talk up that round and say anything other than it was one of my best rounds of golf ever and I got some lucky breaks, because it's brutal.
And hopefully they can take something from it and birdies can be made if you make good golf shots.
Q. Did you sense a lot of support out there in the galleries and do you think at this point you're winning over the American fans?
PAUL CASEY: I've never had an issue with the American fans, and I've been having a great time over here for a long time. They were tremendous. I could sense that they really wanted to see a low round of golf today. They didn't want me dropping shots. They wanted me to try and make birdies, and it sort of built as the round went on and as more people sort of -- as the name went up on the leaderboard, I think they were probably scratching their head and maybe they got the color of the number wrong, maybe that was meant to be a black three or a black four instead of a red four.
They were just excited. I've never played here before but they are great golf fans, and they are very appreciative, very knowledgeable. They know when somebody has hit a great golf shot, even though it may not be close to the flag. You know, it's been a lot of fun so far and it's going to continue to be a lot of fun this week.
Q. I wonder, you just described it as brutal, and we can see it obviously, but can you just talk about what is making it so brutal for everyone else today?
PAUL CASEY: A little bit of wind, making club selection very difficult. And these greens, in order to get close to them, keep the ball in the correct sort of area of the green, you have to short of shape the shot against the bank, and that's just incredibly difficult today with the wind. The wind is obviously drying out the greens, but for me the biggest difficulty is not being able to give any of the putts a real go. You can't charge anything at the hole because it's just going to run off the other side.
So you're always putting tentatively. I was a victim a couple of times today of quitting on putts and I think that's the problem. You can't hit -- you can't go at things, because you're going to get penalized if you don't play it perfectly.
Q. You shot a 60 in college, too. When you get on these crazy, go-low streaks, is it because the putter is working, the driver; what normally fuels those?
PAUL CASEY: It's because there's nothing up there. (Laughing) As Brian said, sort of in the zone, just not really thinking about it.
I don't know, I've never been afraid of shooting low numbers and I enjoy shooting low numbers. You know, I don't get scared of being sort of a few under. I always try and take it more. I see it as a challenge. I don't know what it is. I mean, I won't say it's one particular aspect of the game that suddenly sort of comes alive like the putting or the short game. Everything has to be there.
But I think I get a little flag hungry sometimes. When it pays off, it results in a very good number, a very low number. But I also have the possibility of going the other way. So, you know, it takes -- I've learned to have a little bit of discipline. But when it's on, I can't resist firing at the flags.
RAND JERRIS: Paul, congratulations on a very fine round and we wish you luck this weekend.
PAUL CASEY: Thank you.
End of FastScripts