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April 12, 2008

Paul Casey


BILLY MORRIS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to have Paul Casey with us. Paul had a very fine 69 today, and currently is 7-under par for the Tournament. Let's go to questions.

Q. How do you feel about your position in the Tournament?
PAUL CASEY: I feel very happy about that. Two 69s in a row I'm extremely happy with. This is some of the best golf I've -- probably the best golf I've played around Augusta National and I feel very comfortable. Today was a day of up-and-downs, birdies and bogeys; but, I take the good out of it. I enjoyed myself out there. We had a lot of fun, soaked up the atmosphere, and that's what I'm going to continue to do tomorrow and not worry about anybody else.

Q. And the reason why you're playing so well?
PAUL CASEY: I've put in a lot of hard work. Spent a lot of time with Peter Kostis the last two weeks hitting different shots that I think are required for this golf course, and a lot of time on the fitness, a lot of time on the mental side of things. You know, I'm very, very happy with the state of my game. I haven't played good golf coming into this tournament. So far this year it's been a little lackluster. But I really feel the season begins here.

Q. It seems like a lot of times, you seem to have a sunny outlook out there; you'll miss a putt and kind of smile about it. Is that kind of the way you approach the game, and how has that helped you in other pressure situations?
PAUL CASEY: It is the way I approach the game. I give every shot maximum effort and focus. You know, as soon as the putt's gone and it's stopped rolling, it's over, simple as that. If it's in, great; if not, okay, that's fine. I'm certainly not going to let it affect me.
That was certainly the key today. I would like to think that if I do drop a shot, then I bounce back very, very well. You know, so far this week, I certainly haven't cost myself any shots through loss of focus or loss of emotional control, and I think that's key.

Q. Have you ever been so excited going into the last round of a major, and what's your record like in bad weather?
PAUL CASEY: I think I have a good record in bad weather. I've played in enough of it over the years, playing in Europe.
You know, we'll see how tomorrow pans out in terms of weather-wise. The condition of the golf course is certainly not a factor. This is a golf course where the playing surface will be impeccable, no matter how much it rains or how hard the wind blows.
And sorry, what was the first part of the question?

Q. Have you ever been so excited going into the last round?
PAUL CASEY: Back in 2004 when I played in the penultimate group with Bernhard Langer, I was very excited, probably a little bit too excited. You know, it was all a bit new to me, and I think that's going to put me in good stead for tomorrow.
You know, I'm very excited about tomorrow. I can't wait to get it started. But, you know, I'm going to worry about my own game and not worry about what anybody else is doing, and continue to play good golf, simple as that.

Q. Your low pitch into the 13th green, was that one of the shots you've been working on?

Q. Could you describe it?
PAUL CASEY: (Laughing) The 13th, I had an opportunity to go to the green, it was a good lie in the needles. Craig, my caddy, we decided laying up was probably the better option and make birdie the old-fashioned way. The pitch in was exactly one of those shots I've been working on for the past couple of weeks, just trying to take the spin off the golf ball, it's a great pin location, one of the best on the green and very, very happy with the way I played it. Just 95 yards, pitched it probably 85 and skipped it up the hill.

Q. How knee-rattling are the last few holes? I know you made birdie at 16 but a couple guys made double there; what do you think about that closing stretch?
PAUL CASEY: I enjoy the closing stretch. For me, distances are very important, and today was a perfect number on the 16th hole. It was a hard 8-iron, and I love the 16th. I think it's a great hole. I have good memories. I made a great birdie putt there last year in the final round.
17 and 18, tricky tee shots, but if you get a good tee shot away, then they can be very rewarding. You can certainly get good looks at birdies on both holes, but it's very much the tee shot. You know, it's a lot narrower than it used to be, but that's rightly so. I think because -- as I say, you can have a relatively short-iron approach into that hole; why shouldn't it be narrow?

Q. Can you talk about your performance on the front nine?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, the front nine started off -- well, it was a great nine, the way it started on the first hole, it was a poor tee shot into the bunker and I got very lucky with the lie in the bunker there. I hit a great shot in. Didn't convert.
The second hole, middle of the fairway, 4-iron in my hand and chunked the 4-iron and played a good pitch to about 15 feet and made it. So I felt very -- it was kind of bittersweet. I felt that was a disappointing start because possibly should have been a couple under through two, but yet I was 1-under through two, and that's a great start around here.
And it snowballed from there. Stewart Cink and I are good friends and we enjoy playing golf together, and we sort of spurred each other on I think hitting good shots on the front side. And I certainly didn't get wrapped up in the score of where I was under par relative to the day or where I was in terms of the leaderboard, and just tried to put together as good a front side as possible.
The only disappointment was the 8th where I played a poor pitch and misread the putt. So it could really have been even better than 32.

Q. I apologize if this was asked earlier, but tomorrow with the wind that's been predicted with the typical Sunday setup around here where they give you a chance to go at things, and with the guys on the leaderboard who may not have been in this situation as often as you or Tiger or Stewart, do you expect it to be as wild a day as you could possibly see around Augusta?
PAUL CASEY: Your definition of wild?

Q. I mean, anything might happen tomorrow.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, depends on how hard it blows. You know somebody is going to play good golf. You know, I don't -- you look at the Top 3 guys there; one of them is going to play good golf tomorrow. Has to happen. Probably going to be Trevor the way he's been playing so far this week, and he's going to be the guy to catch.
I have seen traditionally how it's setup on a Sunday around here and that can be quite appealing; that can be quite fun. But you've got to hit the golf shots. And I've always believed that -- talking to friends of mine who have been here a lot longer than I have, great golf shots are rewarded at Augusta National. Good golf shots are good golf shots, but you have to hit great ones in order to be rewarded, and that's what it's going to take tomorrow. And if you're courageous and you hit them and pull them off, then there's no reason why somebody can't post a very good number tomorrow.

Q. How well do you know Trevor, and have you ever had battles going into the final round that you can recall?
PAUL CASEY: I know Trevor quite well and I don't recall any battles going into the final round. I've seen him I think almost every evening so far this week. We sort of brushed by each other at dinner this week at the house. You know, we get along very, very well.
But, you know, tomorrow is not about friends. Tomorrow is about worrying about your own game. You know, tomorrow is tomorrow. Not going to worry about it until it comes.

Q. Is he in the same house?
PAUL CASEY: He's not in the same house but we've been eating dinner at the same house all week.

Q. Tonight?
PAUL CASEY: Possibly. (Laughing).

Q. Do you think there's a misconception that when Tiger's name shows up on the leaderboard, all the other golfers sort of quake in their boots, and is there any sort of intimidation factor?
PAUL CASEY: I'm not sure everybody quakes in their boots. You know, Tiger has obviously played a great round of golf today. 4-under is very, very good. I'm extremely happy with 3-under.
You know, he's the best player in the world by a long, long way. You know, are we scared of him? I don't know if we're scared of him; he's just so good. He doesn't make mistakes. You know, he is the one to be very wary of. This is a golf course, you know, so far this week, with the exception of a few guys at the top of the leaderboard there, you can see the scores are not that low. And as he moves up and he plays great golf, it's just very difficult to press on a golf course such as this and to stay in front or to chase him.
So I don't think it's a case of guys quaking in their boots. It's just they are not as good as he is.

Q. You've had two Top-10 finishes here, haven't you, in three appearances; which suits you more, the course or the occasion?
PAUL CASEY: Both. Certainly no doubt the golf course suits me down to the ground. I have the necessary shots. I have the high ball flight, the right-to-left, left-to-right if you need it. You need actually every single golf shot in the bag to get around this golf course now.
But there is something about this occasion; when you come down Magnolia Lane, there is nothing else like this, and I love it. It's a place which, you know, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and the only other place that does that for me is St. Andrews.
So there's something very cool about this place, and so it's a combination of both I think.

Q. A lot of ways to shoot 69; having made six birdies, do you take a lot -- is that a big plus going into Sunday since you made six birdies around here?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it's a big plus. Yeah, just making birdies around this golf course is key.
I'm not going to be able to move my way up that leaderboard tomorrow if I don't make birdies. So I'm certainly focusing on the fact I made six today and not worrying about the fact I dropped three shots.
If you can get around this golf course without dropping a shot, that's an amazing achievement. I hope it doesn't happen tomorrow, but it may. So I've got to do more of the same, give myself lots of opportunities as I did today and make those putts.

Q. Some people say it's harder to get momentum on the course the way it is now, as opposed to a few years ago before they lengthened it and changed it; how much more momentum did you feel out there today in your round?
PAUL CASEY: I felt a little bit, but I get very concerned with just one shot at a time, staying in the present and being in the now, if you want to call it.
Yeah, momentum is great, but I worry more about my focus, my emotional control, and go from there.
Momentum can be killed in a second around this golf course. So it does count for something, but it's not something I'm going to get caught up in.

Q. Whatever happens tomorrow, how well do you think this has set you up for the rest of the season?
PAUL CASEY: I think it's set me up very well for the rest of the season; the way I've played the last three days, I'm excited about that. As I say, it has been disappointing so far this year, but I've been putting in so much hard work, I feel that by the end of the year, I'll be very happy with it.
Hopefully that's starting tomorrow with a good round. You know, I feel very happy on the golf course. I love what I do. So you know, just looking forward to it. I can't wait to -- so far this week, I've actually hit it really poor on the range because I can't wait to get to the first tee, which is always a good sign.
BILLY MORRIS: Let's take a minute and go over your birdies and bogeys for us, please.
PAUL CASEY: The birdies, second hole, driver off the tee, fat 4-iron, 40-yard pitch up to about 15 feet and made the putt.
No. 7, driver off the tee, left rough, hooked a 52-degree wedge around the trees to 15 feet and made the putt.
I missed one already -- 5. 3-wood off the tee on No. 5. 7-iron on the green to about 20 feet and made the putt.
9, driver off the tee, about 120 to the flag, 52-degree wedge to seven feet, made the putt.
11, bogey. Driver off the tee, right rough, a 5-iron to the front of the green and long, long put, probably 60 feet and rolled it to four feet and lipped it out to four feet for bogey.
No. 13, 3-wood through the fairway into the pine straw, laid up with a 7-iron, had 95 yards, hit 52-degree wedge and bumped it up to ten feet and made it.
No. 15, bogey. Driver, right trees, pitched out with a 4-iron 113 yards, 52-degree wedge just over the back, poor chip, missed a 12-footer for par.
No. 16, 8-iron, 175 yards to five, six feet.
No. 17, driver off the tee, left rough, 52-degree wedge -- lot of those today. Hooked it around -- actually, I caught a flyer. I had about 150 to the flag, caught a flyer over the back, pitched it up. Kind of hit the seam and ran long and 2-putted from 18 feet. And that's it.
BILLY MORRIS: Thank you. A couple more questions.

Q. How many guys realistically tomorrow have a shot? Trevor just birdied 18 so he's at 11 now; is it really just the top six guys in your mind?
PAUL CASEY: Hmm, yes.

Q. What did Harrington winning the British Open do for your own self in winning a major? Even though he's an older peer, given he's one of your contemporaries, as it were.
PAUL CASEY: Yes, I've played enough golf with Padraig to know where my game matches up with his. I know where he's better than I am. I know how hard he works and how well deserved that win was.
It pushes me along. You know, there have been times when I've beaten Padraig in tournaments, and you know, it just sort of gives me a bit of a kick and motivates me. You know, he's got the better of me a couple of times on things like the Order of Merit, but I'd like to think I'm close on his heels and he's a guy I want to catch and a guy I want to beat, as well as being a friend.
So it pushes me harder and harder. Hopefully, I'd like nothing more than to be playing him down the stretch in an Open Championship this year.

Q. What's the most nervous you've been on a golf course and how will tomorrow stack up against that?
PAUL CASEY: First tee Ryder Cup Oakland Hills. It's all the same answer. There's nothing else like it.
A major championship is close, but it's not like a Ryder Cup. You know, you're playing for yourself tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be fun, to be honest. I've been in the penultimate group before, and I don't even know who I'm playing with -- Steve Flesch. I'm playing with Steve fresh and 66 and I'm not going to have any issues sleeping tonight and I can't wait for the sun to come up.
BILLY MORRIS: Paul Casey, we thank you and wish you the best tomorrow.

End of FastScripts

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