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January 18, 2009
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thank you for coming in, Abu Dhabi Championship winner for 2009, how does that feel?
PAUL CASEY: Feels fantastic.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Now, you made it interesting. Tell us a bit about the back nine.
PAUL CASEY: Well, it started off pretty good. Got lucky with the lie on 10, made birdie there, which was great. Then I got snagged up in the rough a couple of times.
The one on 11 was a difficult shot and the blade rotated with the rough into the bunker. Not a bad putt but just misread it slightly. But it was fine.
The camera going off on 13 was very frustrating. That was a good tee shot and an excellent second shot. It was a difficult putt, but I knew the line and the camera went off right at the backswing, and flinched. Sounded like it was right next to me and was pretty bad. Left myself a long one coming back and compounded it on the 14th with another bogey.
Then after that, I was still playing for birdies very much at that time. After that, I really just played for pars.
Q. Did you think at any stage of lagging the putt?
PAUL CASEY: After dropping a couple of shots on 13 and 14, the goal was to shoot 3-under, after dropping back to only a couple under. I had to the looked at the scoreboard. I obviously knew where Martin was, but I didn't know what anybody else was score-wise.
So I just played my own game. Yeah, picked out that number as a target and Martin hit a very good birdie putt on 17. We were both in-between clubs. He hit the 8-iron and I hit the 7-iron and he tried to hit a hard 8 and came up short and I hit a cut 7 to take some distance off of it. He hit his putt and it came up just short and he said, "That's really slow up there."
You go: Oh, no, I didn't hear that, did I? So you're in the back of your mind thinking, Should I give it a little bit extra? And I didn't, and it was really slow and that's why that putt came up short, because I had the line. And that would have been nice if that one had gone in.
18, that was a tricky green. I was trying to make it but I was trying to drop it in. I don't care, if I've got two putts to win, I'll take two putts.
Q. You didn't realise that you were six shots clear then? You didn't know?
PAUL CASEY: No clue whatsoever.
Q. Is that a policy of yours?
PAUL CASEY: I'm not usually six shots clear, so I couldn't tell you.
Q. Not to look at the leaderboard?
PAUL CASEY: No, I think in the past, if I'm behind, I always look at the leaderboard. Being out in front is slightly different. I very much needed to focus on my own game today, which is why I started very well, I believe. Because I was trying to focus on my own game and shoot a number. Any one of these guys could shoot a 65 today or something. And I thought I could do it, I really did, starting off with birdies on the first two holes and then birdieing 6 and 8, I thought, yeah, I can shoot 65. And that was always I was trying to do. It wasn't until the end that I had to change the game plan.
Q. You were playing so well for so long and in such control, what goes through your mind when you're standing on the 16 with a one-shot lead; is there a sense of panic?
PAUL CASEY: Still stick to my game plan. If I had known I had a one-shot lead, it probably would have been a lot scarier. I'm glad you weren't out there telling me.
Q. There was a suggestion that the announcer on the 18th green said, "Paul Casey has dropped another shot" and that you could hear it?
PAUL CASEY: Was he saying that? Oh, that's nice. No, you can't hear him. I could hear names -- I backed off the shots, the third shot out of the rough on 14, because I could hear him announcing Harrington on to the green. It was carrying in the wind, I must admit.
Q. But you didn't hear the score?
PAUL CASEY: I didn't hear the score.
PAUL CASEY: In terms of what to do? We were not doing anything wrong. I was playing good golf. I shot 2-under today. It's not like I played poorly. I played well. Just threw a couple of shots away.
But no, we were talking about -- the conversation was purely numbers, where are we hitting, what's the line. A couple of times I asked him to help with the grain on the greens. There was probably a little less chitchat than normal about irrelevant stuff which usually goes on during the course of a round. It was more sort of business.
Q. How much is this win a weight off your shoulders and also how much of a boost is it to win so early in the new year?
PAUL CASEY: Well, it felt great two years ago to win so early and then I really didn't follow it up with anything. But it feels very different this time. As you said, a bit of a weight off my shoulders. It feels great. It feels like a payoff for all of the worrying I've put in, certainly recently, the past couple of months. It shows that marriage is clearly good for me.
Q. Is this the ultimate golf wedding gift?
PAUL CASEY: Golf wedding gift. The ultimate gift is sitting in the back of the room. But is it the ultimate gift -- well, if I had won the first week after I got married, which was Tiger's event, it would have been the ultimate gift, but I think I was slightly tired.
Q. I wondered if the not looking at scoreboard business is a change of policy. I know Trevor Immelman didn't do it at the Masters last year, for example, and I wonder whether you used to, like at the 2004 Wales Open and 2006 British Masters you had leads on the back nine that you lost. I wonder if you knew where you were those years and whether you've had a change of policy.
PAUL CASEY: You're very observant, aren't you, Mark.
Yes, that was something different today. I think I've admitted in the past that I like to look at the score boards, and I still believe that if I'm behind, then that's still going to be the case.
But those who were at the Pro-Am dinner on Wednesday, Trevor had mentioned that, and I had not heard that from him before. I didn't know that he had not looked at leaderboards at Augusta, and he said up on stage that he asked Neil Wallace, his caddie how many he was in front and Neal said three or something, I can't remember the exact score, which has got to be a great feeling.
Clearly he stuck to a game plan, and he's delivered, and he didn't get phased by what anybody else was doing, so I thought I would take a leaf out of Major Champion's book.
Q. What other changes have you made that has paid off this week that you can put your finger on?
PAUL CASEY: I think the biggest thing is the putting. In yesterday's press conference, you can dig out the notes somewhere, full explanation. I talked a little about how I approached the putts slightly differently. In match play, I was probably a little bit more aggressive with my putts and not as worried about the consequences and just trying to make them.
I've had that attitude this week, and technically, I feel I'm better with a putter; posture, muscles I'm using, bigger muscle, sharp angle back to 90 degrees, got too far forward, ball position, just basic stuff and a lot of practise, and that's probably the biggest thing.
I still continue to work extremely hard at all of the other aspects of the game from mental to physical. I've had more than a few guys this week ask me if I've lost weight, which I haven't, but clearly that's an indication that -- a couple of them said that I look very fit, which is very nice of them, because I feel very fit.
I think everything is just pretty good right now.
Q. Where would you rank this amongst your other big victories?
PAUL CASEY: Maybe the most satisfying right now, because I haven't won for two years. You know, The Match Play, for example, was fun. That was a blast. My first win, I couldn't explain it, it was different.
This is just different. I felt pressure on this one, which I haven't really felt before. I just didn't like that feel of not having won for two years. It's good motivation, actually.
Q. What is it when you think about Abu Dhabi --
PAUL CASEY: Clearly we get very, very well looked after this week, from the golf course, wonderful condition, the food, the hotel we stay at is ridiculous, never seen such grandeur and opulence all my life, and here I am staying in a place like that. And I've got a lot of friends here. The ALDAR guys, you know, this was important, not only for myself but important for them.
I think it place is fantastic. I think this place is going to be -- what's going to happen in the next sort of ten years or so is going to be brilliant, and it's nice to be part of that and know the guys who are contributing to that change and that develop many, and I wanted to win with them. I played with them in the Pro-Am, and was disappointed last year after I missed the cut and I wanted to sort of defend the title.
Every time I came down 18 or 9, I could see them peering down over the top of the balance cony there and that feels very satisfying to deliver for them. I could feel their sort of support. I could feel their sort of encouragement and seems sort of change, but their force trying to will me along to win, so that was great.
Q. Given the frustrations you've endured over the last couple of years, how important is it for you to follow this now with another one fairly soon? Are you going to play both further legs of the desert swing?
PAUL CASEY: Yes, I'll play the next two events.
It's very important, but I said again earlier this week, I'm now approaching every event with equal importance, and I think that's the difference. The last couple of years, maybe a little too much focus on the majors, trying to get ready for those. They are still at the top of my list of goals and they always will be, but I have to prepare equally well for every single event.
So that's why I feel that I'm in a slightly different place than I was a couple of years ago and why I think 2009 could be a great year.
PAUL CASEY: Not a bad start, it was 1-under through four and 2-under through eight. I don't know, keep going. He didn't play badly, I just started very well. And I've forgotten the rest of the question.
Q. Just the challenge --
PAUL CASEY: It's a difficult one. He played so well yesterday. He shot 65 yesterday. It's very difficult to follow up low numbers. Everybody has always said that, and I agree with that because I have to try and do it. It's difficult to follow up the 65 and somehow manage to get through it, which is rare, and to follow up with a 63, would be great. And I thought I could -- as I said before, I thought I could post maybe a 65. I mean, how often do you shoot 65-63-65? You don't, I don't care what golf course it is. And this is a tough golf course, it's 7,500 yards. We are not going to play golf courses much longer this year. Maybe Hazeltine will be 7,800, but that's just so long. It's not easy.
So I'm sure the guys were trying. I mean, what did he shoot? He finished 20-under par. What did he shoot today? 67? That's not bad, 65-67.
PAUL CASEY: He was coming out of the rough. Just squeeze the first tee shot a little bit right. That wasn't a bad start. I'm sure he would disagree with your comments, and I disagree.
Q. You're on the brink of the world's top 20 now, I think you're 21st. You were outside the top 40, was that a place that you were disgusted with and hated being in?
PAUL CASEY: I had not thought too much about World Rankings. It's great I'm going back in the right direction. I would love to be in the world's Top-10 and then start picking goals from there.
But I'm very much focused on staying on one tournament at a time, one round at a time. Yeah, I can't remember even what the highest I've been, like 13 or 19, I can't even remember. I just need to focus on the golf. That means I might get a slightly easier opponent in the Match Play.
Q. Is that taking any notice of Tiger --
PAUL CASEY: Maybe. I mean, he's clearly the best in the world. And it is amazing how it didn't matter where he goes, he's there to win and I would admit that, you know, I found it sort of tough to sort of emulate that type of intensity that he has.
I've had it for a week here and there. At The Ryder Cup it's very easy to get that intensity. Majors, it's easier to get that intensity. He has it every week, and that's phenomenal. That's a huge asset that he has. And you know, trying to copy somebody I think is very flattering and I'm certain will he trying to copy that asset that he has.
Q. The paycheck today will do you good in terms of The Race to Dubai --
PAUL CASEY: Where should I put it, is the worry.
Q. You've gone from 30th to provisionally 7th I think.
PAUL CASEY: Nobody has mentioned The Race to Dubai, but that is a goal. After missing out to Padraig a couple of years ago, what was it, the Order of Merit back then, I would love to -- well, the goal really is to have the chance to win, it because there is so much money available for the final event, nothing is -- I doubt if anything will be secure or if anybody will have won that thing by the time we arrive.
So I just need to be in contention, so this is going to contribute. But it's going to be some large numbers this year.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Paul, many congratulations. Thanks very much.
End of FastScripts