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August 2, 2007
GORDON SIMPSON: Well played, Paul, a nice round of 67 to get you started. I think you've been telling the TV people that the man who's going to be out-of-pocket today is your coach, Peter Kostis, a little bet that you had. Are you going to make sure it costs him?
PAUL CASEY: I played poorly last week, so I needed a little bit of motivation today, and Peter said if I shot 67 or better, he'd buy me dinner tonight, and I get to pick the restaurant. The trouble is I've got an early tee-off time tomorrow, so maybe I'll take a rain check on wine or something.
No, it was good motivation because the start was poor, 2-over early, and I did birdie 16 while he was sitting in the tower watching me, and after that started rolling a few putts.
Q. Did you catch his eye?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, made sure that he was aware that I knew he was up there.
Q. You birdied 1 and 2?
PAUL CASEY: I birdied 16, 17, and then back to level, and then 1 and 2. So very, very, very happy to be in with a 67. I think scoring was very tough. The golf course was extremely difficult out there today, and I'm very happy to be sitting here right now.
Q. You scared your old putter into submission?
PAUL CASEY: Into hibernation. Not the identical exact one but an identical one to the type I used last year, the putter I used in Europe and the Ryder Cup. I switched to the Nike putter but it's a slightly different shape. It's worked okay for me, but clearly time for a change, and this putter is wonderful on fast greens, and these are as fast as you're going to see all year. Grabbed it out of the truck yesterday, along with a new driver and a new 3-wood which the guys at Nike built me, different shafts, and I think they'll be staying in the bag.
Q. Just curious what kind of putter.
PAUL CASEY: It's called a Retro. It's called Nike Unitized Retro.
Q. The old one you dragged out?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah. It's all in one piece, one-piece technology.
Q. Bad name.
PAUL CASEY: What?
Q. Did you expect these greens to be the fastest you've played all year?
PAUL CASEY: They always have the possibility but usually not until Sunday afternoon. The golf course is in impeccable shape, but there are a couple of greens out there which are very, very firm and very crusty already. I played early morning yesterday, about 7:45, teed off at the 10th, and the 10th green was baked, and that was first thing in the morning.
The ball just rolls, you pick a line, you strike it properly, and you're going to have a hard time missing putts if you pick the line and pace correctly. I think they're wonderful.
Q. Can you explain in sort of simple terms so thick laymen like us can understand what the difference is between today and last week?
PAUL CASEY: For me or the golf course?
Q. You, the swing. You said you played poorly last week.
PAUL CASEY: I think the reason -- and the reason for the small wager with Kostis is because I think I was tired last week at the Open Championship. I've always been one for picking short-term goals, maybe a round, a number, and I felt I didn't have that last week. I kind of stumbled my way through the week, got myself a little bit up the leaderboard but really didn't have any sort of goals last week. I mean, I was trying to win, but it wasn't some -- the energy wasn't there.
You know, Peter noticed it this morning. He got in town last night. I saw him on the range this morning, and he just said, you look a little tired.
Q. Tight or tired?
PAUL CASEY: Tired. You're sort of dragging the feet a little.
So we hit some balls on the range, he got me through a couple of things, nothing technique, but just trying to get me going a little bit. And I think the -- well, the opposite to winning dinner was buying dinner. If I shot level par or worse today I had to buy dinner, so that was the flipside, and it worked. It got me going.
Q. Do you know where you're going to eat?
PAUL CASEY: I pick, so Ken Stewart's is very nice, or Diamond Grill. I hope he's got some cash.
Q. I assume you're not in the FedExCup Series, correct?
PAUL CASEY: I am not.
Q. Is there any way you can get in if you win this week or next week?
PAUL CASEY: Naïvely I thought I could join the PGA TOUR during the season and be part of the FedExCup, and I was incorrect. You have to be a member from the beginning of the year. So it's disappointing, but it means I will probably take up my membership next year because I've won enough money to do that.
Q. Are you planning to have those four weeks off?
PAUL CASEY: No, I'll be in Europe. I'll be in Switzerland playing there. I've got to defend the Johnnie Walker Cup at Gleneagles, which is one of the weeks. I'll be a busy boy, but -- I like to defend titles, and it would be fantastic to be at Gleneagles and then Switzerland but also disappointing not to be playing FedExCup.
Q. Do you think that's unfair?
PAUL CASEY: No, the rules are rules, and I didn't read them.
Q. Not to belabor the point, but wouldn't you have expected your management people to know that sort of thing?
PAUL CASEY: Well, I don't think anybody -- everybody was still getting to grips with it, fine detail.
Q. Were you eligible to join the TOUR at the start of the year?
PAUL CASEY: I don't know. Good question. And plus I switched managements at the end of the year so it was all going on.
Q. Because if you weren't eligible, sort of a moot point.
PAUL CASEY: Exactly. I don't know. Moot point.
Q. You did well enough here last year that I think the money would have --
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I don't know. I really don't know. Live and learn. We'll see how it turns out this year. I'll watch it on TV.
Q. I would assume you knew Kostis was in the 16th tower when you teed off?
PAUL CASEY: Very much so.
Q. Did you say I'm going to show him on this one?
PAUL CASEY: What I probably won't tell him, but I will tell you, is on 16 I was in perfect position in two and I was aiming 15 feet left of the flag to the center of the green and I didn't hit the shot I wanted to. I kind of came out of it slightly and pushed it out to the right, and it finished about four feet away (laughter). I won't tell him that.
GORDON SIMPSON: He'll read it. Even better.
Q. You may have brought this up earlier on when you came in here, but anything about this course that has grabbed you right away when you got here, not this week but your first time here, because you did very well last year, got off to a nice start this year?
PAUL CASEY: I don't know what I shot last year.
Q. You played in the last group because you didn't put your red shirt on, remember?
PAUL CASEY: You can't wear red when Tiger does, can you?
Q. I don't know. Did you check with Luke?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, right.
I just think it's a great golf course, classic design, impeccable shape, fast greens, which I enjoy playing fast greens, and although this is a classic golf course where you probably need to shape the ball off the tee to hold the fairways, you can get away with -- if you hit it long enough, if you do get into trouble, get yourself out of it, which is what I tend to do around here. I either play very sensibly and put it in play as much as possible. 9 is very, very difficult to hit, so I just hit it as hard as I can down there, and if I find the rough like I did it I'm far enough down and strong enough I can get it up out of the rough. I think I have a slight advantage over some guys.
Q. Do you think it would have mattered if you had either taken the week off, played an easier Bob Hope Classic kind of course or played this one which is drawing comparisons to a major setup with the rough and speed of the greens? Does it matter at all leading into next week had you done any of those three options?
PAUL CASEY: I think it does. Unfortunately I haven't seen Southern Hills, and I've made it a point of preparing well for the majors this year. I've visited every venue before the week started, and I haven't found that opportunity and the time in the schedule to take a visit down there in Oklahoma. I've tried to talk to as many guys as possible, but I think this has got to be good preparation.
Scott Verplank says he doesn't see the greens being any faster than this, if anything slightly slower because of the humidity and the moisture they have down there. The rough is going to be thick, but the rough is thick here, too. I think it is great preparation.
I've read Monty, one of his quotes, saying if you're preparing for Wimbledon, you wouldn't play on clay the week before. I think he's right, and I think this has got to be a good comparison to Southern Hills.
Q. Have you seen Padraig? Have you said anything to him? If you have, can you tell us? And what were your feelings and what do you think it'll do for European golf?
PAUL CASEY: I spoke to him on the phone on Tuesday -- no, Wednesday last week. Well, I said congratulations. I said a few other things but I'm not going to tell you. I think it's -- again, I saw him face to face here this week. I think it's wonderful.
I was torn because they're both my friends, Sergio and Padraig. But Padraig was one of those guys who gave me a lot of support when I was down a couple of years ago. He had words of wisdom, picked me up, tried to encourage me, and I owe him because of that. He's a good friend but also a guy I want to beat. So I'm going to take as much out of it as possible, good stuff out of it. He's my mate, but he's going to push me harder, and I've always watched him and admired his work ethic and how he controls himself, how he gets the golf ball around the golf course.
He's the first European major winner I've had since I've been on Tour, so I think it's a huge boost for me. You know, of course I know the other guys who win majors, but I don't play with him as much as I play with guys like Padraig. It's given me -- it gives me a boost of confidence.
I would very much like to emulate some of the achievements that Padraig has had. He missed out on the Order of Merit narrowly, and I missed out on one. I'd dearly love to win the Order of Merit and a major or two.
Q. Of the words of wisdom that he gave you, are there some that you can share with us, while you were down?
PAUL CASEY: Not really. I don't really want to.
Q. When you say it's good for you, because you're as good as he is, do you mean?
PAUL CASEY: I want to be as good as he is. I know his game. I know how my game matches up with his game. I know I'm stronger in certain areas, but he's stronger in quite a few other areas. And I feel it's great he won a major, but all those times he encouraged me -- and I've gone -- I've played enough rounds with Padraig where he's beaten me and I've beaten him. I feel that if I can control -- I've got the game to obviously beat Padraig in one round. I need to put it together in four rounds and I need to tap into what he does and try and get some advice off him, if possible. And he's one who will give advice, I feel.
You know, a lot of players I don't know them well enough, but I know Padraig well enough where if I went to him and said, I need some help, what do I need to do to take it to the next step, he'd help out.
Q. Just curious, I understand the idea of a European finally winning a major and being somewhat of an inspiration, but wouldn't you have gotten that same inspiration seeing Zach Johnson win The Masters or seeing Angel win the U.S. Open?
PAUL CASEY: Or Geoff Ogilvy?
Q. Is there something inherent to a European that changes the dynamics of it?
PAUL CASEY: For me he's always been -- he's always given me advice. He's always sort of taken me under his wing when I've needed help. It's just different. It's different with Padraig. It's difficult to explain, but I think it's a good thing. And Sergio coming down the stretch. I mean, I want to be there. I really felt sort of -- it felt different from other majors for me.
End of FastScripts