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January 16, 2008

Paul Casey


SCOTT CROCKETT: Let's start with last year, a big win for you last year just starting off, just reflect on that before we look ahead to this year.
PAUL CASEY: Well, it was my only win last year, and it was a great way to start off the year after the hard work I've put in over that Christmas period. And it was the start I wanted, a 65 on the final day was really the best final rounds I've played in my professional career, a blemish on the last, but still good enough.
So I was ecstatic. It was a very successful week for me. I made a lot of new friends. I now have a corporate deal with an Abu Dhabi company because of that. I have a lot of good memories about this golf course and Abu Dhabi and really looking forward to coming back.
SCOTT CROCKETT: I guess the conditions are not ideal preparation for your defence, but talk about the tournament coming up.
PAUL CASEY: Everybody is in the same boat. Yesterday very few guys got out on the golf course. It's obviously very wet out there. You know, I haven't -- I've done a lot of very, very hard work, haven't played that many rounds of golf coming into this week.
So missing out playing yesterday is obviously disappointing. With a bit of luck we'll get out there this afternoon and play 18 holes but the rain is going to make the golf course very, very tough. The rough has been thick here in the past and I've seen a little bit of it so far, and it's incredibly thick again. It's going to put a premium on controlling the golf ball, keeping it on the fairway. Length is also going to play a factor and hopefully that's where I can have some edge over the other guys.
The end of the day, it's going to take very, very good golf from an extremely strong field. There are a lot of players who I would like to beat and are going to be very, very difficult to beat if I may going to have any chance of defending the title. I've never successfully defended a title so it would be nice to do that.

Q. Are you working harder now in the off season than before?
PAUL CASEY: I've worked hard, certainly. I've tried to work harder. I feel like I've not had as much time as I did last year for whatever reason. I don't know why. I felt a little bit restricted for time, Tiger's event, a couple of weeks before Christmas, spent a week putting in some hard work and then a couple of weeks off and then only a week we came here I was back on the range again.
You know, I feel happy with what I've done, but it's still a work-in-progress. Unfortunately the season never seems to end. I feel prepared. I feel relaxed. I haven't actually played that many round of golf but certainly I've played enough golf to feel very, very ready.

Q. Was there a sense of relief for you that 2007 finished?
PAUL CASEY: Very much so. The season started so brilliantly and I think, you know, the goals were very much focused on majors last year. Majors are always my goal.
Although maybe the results of the majors were not quite as high as I would like to. I felt like I made all the cuts and I progressed with the game. A couple of Top 10's in those majors, and then maybe after that because I put so much emphasis on those it went a little bit flat after that.
Maybe I ran out of energy. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing the end of the season. Not that I wasn't trying or putting in 100%. But maybe I mismanaged, you know, my energy or where the focus was. That's something I'm not going to make that mistake again and I'm going to be very selective with my goals and how much time I spend flying this year and whatever it might be. I'm going to make sure I play as good of golf as I can all the way through the year, so it was a relief to put 2007 behind me.

Q. Has the schedule for this year panned out the way you would have hoped?
PAUL CASEY: Schedule, yeah, it's going to be a couple of tournaments I'm missing reluctantly. Cutting down, in the past I would have made the trip to China and played a couple of European Tour events there and a couple of other long-haul trips I won't make.
So really this is for me the only European Tour golf I'm going to be playing until we get to May, really, apart from the World Golf Championships events and majors. You know, so this is very important to me, two weeks are really key to try to play some really, really good golf because it's going to be a while before I tee it up in any European Tour event.

Q. Schedule after that?
PAUL CASEY: A lot in the States. Probably the first one in the States will be L.A. and then the Match Play. I haven't completely decided on where else I'll play but I've always played events such as Bay Hill, Doral, stuff like that. I will throw in a couple more. I think I played 11 in the States last year, ten or 11 and I've got to play 15, so it's not that many more if you count hopefully four FedEx events.
My schedule doesn't have to change that much. If anything, I'll just be cutting down on my schedule rather than having to add too many more.

Q. Are you surprised at the quality of the field here this week or do you think the tournament deserves it?
PAUL CASEY: I think it deserves it. Doesn't surprise me but we that have a very, very strong field this week. I feel a little bit embarrassed because I said -- I talked about Abu Dhabi and I said such wonderful things about the weather and everything. And Luke Donald looked at me and goes one of the reasons he came here this week was because I trumped it up so much and built it up and said great things. I really enjoy it and it's a great place and I'm glad it's got such a strong feed.
You know, this really for me, it sort of kicks off 2008 European Tour schedule. This is where it starts to get serious and points get big, the money get big.
I think golf in the Middle East is going to grow, so I'm very, very happy. I thought last week's tournament was very strong, some very, very good players, The Open Champion was playing.

Q. Of course there are Ryder Cup points to consider too this week?
PAUL CASEY: Every week is important. Ryder Cup points are big this week. Of course, that's on my list, as well, of things I need to achieve this year, and it would be great to really get started.
You know, there are so many goals that I want to try and achieve this year, and they will all sort themselves out if I play great golf and I win tournaments, so that's what I've got to focus on.

Q. Any different feeling this week being defending champion?
PAUL CASEY: It's just another tournament apart that I'm defending champion but that counts for nothing when we get up on Thursday. Of course, I have a lot of experience around this golf course. I've shot low rounds on it. But that doesn't mean anything. These guys don't care if you're defending champion; ask Padraig or Luke, doesn't matter.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Well done, thanks for that. Good luck this week.

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