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April 5, 2009
DOUG MILNE: Alright. We'd like to welcome Paul Casey, winner of the 2009 Shell Houston Open, to the interview room. Thanks for joining us. I know this is a great feeling. With the win, you pick up 500 FedEx Cup points and move to sixth in the rankings, and that's just after three PGA Tour starts. You also become the first European to win the Shell Houston Open, and you did it in your first start here. So obviously we want to get to the week. A long week. You probably felt like you played about eight rounds, but just some comments on the week and how you're feeling with the PGA TOUR win under your belt.
PAUL CASEY: It feels great. Wasn't on my schedule to be playing here this week until I talked to guys like Ogilvy, a few others, said it was pretty good preparation for next week, for The Masters, and those that guys said that were right. Great greens the way they shave down a lot of the areas, the swirling winds. Yeah, very good preparation. As a golf course, it's something I liked. It suited my eye. I didn't know that until I came here.
Yeah, just very good things were said about this place and bumped into Steve Timms as well, the tournament director, a couple times prior to this week.
Yeah. I can't tell you how happy I am to include it in my schedule, and I'm not sure how I can explain how it feels yet.
Thank you. That's not water (laughter). It's a little bit like my first win felt in Europe which I can remember very vividly. First win in Europe, first Ryder Cup experience, and now first PGA TOUR win. Three fairly major events in my life, in my golfing life.
So I think I need to give it a couple days to let this one sink in.
DOUG MILNE: At this point we'll turn it over and open it up for a few questions.
Q. I guess even spinning it forward a little bit, you go into next week with two wins this year and a close, you know, second to Geoff at the match play. You got to be feeling good about yourself and your game.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah. Yeah, I do. You know, it's just been a lot of work with Peter Kostis. I think I'm finally getting to the stage where I'm starting to, you know, have belief in myself. You know, I'm a top whatever I was, 12th in the world or something like that this week, coming into this week, 12 or 13. It's time to start believing that I'm in that group and that I can be a Top-10 player in the world and maybe I can be Top-5. Don't know. We'll see when we get there.
Clearly I just take a little while to sort of get used to things and feel comfortable. Now I feel comfortable out here. I'm having a great time out here. Enjoy it. Love the tournaments. So I think that shows in the golf I've played, and starting off with a win in the Middle East was brilliant. It was a good field there. I think it relaxed me for the rest of the season, took the pressure off a little bit, but it didn't change the intensity.
You know, only playing -- I'm not sure how many PGA TOUR events I'm play. Obviously I've played my minimum. Didn't know how many FedEx events I was going to get into starting the season. It was important to get off to a quick start and rack up some FedEx points and world rankings points and all the rest of it. Three events and sixth on the list. I'm pretty happy with that.
Q. Paul, could you talk about what it was like to be -- most of the day you're either neck and neck with chasing Freddie, who is from here, very popular everywhere, but this is really Couples' country. I'm wondering how that played in to the whole vibe.
PAUL CASEY: I kept my head down, to be honest, and didn't pay too much attention to what was going on. I just thought it was incredibly difficult out there, so why burden myself with knowing too much. Just get on with it. It's an incredibly difficult golf course with a very difficult conditions. They set it up brilliantly.
You could get at the flags if you're in the right angles and you were bold enough to want to take that chance. I knew that ball strikers were the guys who were probably going to come out on top at the end of today with the conditions, and I put myself in that category. So I thought guys like Ogilvy, Freddie, of course, were the guys to beat.
It wasn't until the last green I looked up when I was in the bunker and knew I had to get up and down to beat J.B. Otherwise a play off. But, you know, Freddie is a stud, isn't he, really. What a guy, what a player. Is he 50 yet?
Q. Forty-nine. Fifty in October.
PAUL CASEY: That's incredible golf. I don't know what he did coming in, but obviously he was 12 for awhile, wasn't he?
DOUG MILNE: Last four holes got him.
Q. Twelve with three holes to go.
BY PAUL CASEY:
Q. Paul, when were you planning on going to Augusta?
PAUL CASEY: About half an hour ago (laughter).
Q. Have you changed your plans?
PAUL CASEY: I don't know. The wife is already changed the plans. I think we're getting out night, are we? We'll get out tonight.
Q. Are you going private? Commercial?
PAUL CASEY: Private, yup. Private -- first private flight of the year.
Q. With as well as you've played when you've played well, what has kept you from believing you're a Top-10 player or Top-5 player?
PAUL CASEY: If I had known that, I would have fixed it a lot sooner. I don't know. You know, the self belief this is a very difficult thing to explain and to work on because you don't want to be arrogant. You don't want to be cocky. But yet you have to have belief in yourself. For me it's just been a lot of hard work, playing a lot of golf, and a bit of time.
You know, hopefully I'm not any different than I was as a kid growing up. You know, it's sort of the way I am to people or anything else. I now have that belief when I step onto the golf course. I'm looking to beat guys and not worry about the other guys. What am I going to do to get around the golf course in as few a shots as possible. And that's what I did today.
Q. Do you intentionally avoid the leaderboards until the 18th?
PAUL CASEY: I didn't feel it was necessary to look at them. I didn't look at them in Abu Dhabi. Were you there? You were there. I told you that. Just didn't think it was necessary there, had no clue in Abu Dhabi had about a four, five shot lead at one point. Probably would have scared me anyway.
I didn't know I had to sort of par in on last three, four holes, which I did to win. It was probably good I didn't know that. Especially when you're out in front, I think it's easier to chase. So not looking at a leaderboard. I had a rough idea. Unfortunately, there's so many of them and they're so good, I caught a glimpse on -- 13 is a par 5. Caught a glimpse on 13. I knew somebody was 12, and I had that short putt to go to 12. So I knew I was in the lead, but I had no idea after that, didn't look after that.
Q. In hindsight how big was that run to the 18th tee the other day, kind of give you like a good night's sleep?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah. I forgot about that. I come around this morning and they've got buggies with people. What's that all about? (Laughter). Could have done with one of those the other day.
I think that was big. It's been a really long week. You know, it's like yesterday trying to get out of here. Tom is around somewhere. Sorry, Tom. I didn't to an interview with the Golf Channel. I just want to get out of here. It's not because I didn't want to do them, just trying to save energy. I need to save the energy for next week as well. But I've got to give everything this week. It's a Catch-22.
Making that 18th tee and teeing off in the dark, I think was possibly that was -- I've never quite understood that one. I'd rather play the hole in the dark on 18 and wake up at 5:00 in the morning, get ready and have to hit that 18th tee shot cold. First tee shot of the day, that can't be -- I'm awful finishing golf holes. I'm warm, feeling good, whatever happens, happens.
Q. Given that, did you feel like you had a big advantage going to the play off, you're still warm, J.B. has been sitting there for two hours 40 minutes, that's the first shot?
PAUL CASEY: Really? Wow. I felt like it was an advantage. I stuck to the game plan. Hit a 3-wood off the tee. Hit to the left edge of the bunker, drifted right. No problem. 18 is pretty much a par 5 today anyway.
My first tournament in Europe was -- wasn't a playoff. This wasn't bad for my first playoff. That was against Alex Cejka. I've had a couple victories in playoffs in Europe. To me it's like a match-play situation. Like walking into the Ryder Cup and you're all square coming to the 18th.
So for me, I didn't walk off 18 in regulation thinking I've missed my chance. Yeah, I've got another opportunity and I'm going to go and grab it.
Q. When -- after you made the last putt in the playoff and your eyes kind of filled with tears a little bit, did the emotion you're feeling there kind of hit you by surprise, or you had been kind of battling with emotions?
PAUL CASEY: No. I'm a softie. I cry at rubbish movies and things like that (laughter).
Q. At the start of the year, you were still going to stay in the Top 50 in the morning. Tomorrow morning you'll be up to 6th. You mentioned the work you put in with Pete Kostis. What other factors do you think have gone into that?
PAUL CASEY: I'm fitter than I used to be, lot more working out. Because of that, I feel like I can compete every week. I mean -- we discussed blemishes for the record so far this year were Qatar, missed cut, but I haven't made a cut there in three attempts. It's not a golf course that I find easy to get around.
Doral, another golf course I struggle with slightly. For whatever reason, I don't know why because I think it's a good golf course.
Q. Marriage played a part. She's gone out there now.
PAUL CASEY: Well, should have got married sooner, shouldn't I? Renew the vows regularly or something, keep the form going.
Q. Is this your first extended period of time a week or whatever in Houston, and what's your take on this?
PAUL CASEY: It's a windy place but very hospitable. People are great here. I do spend a little bit of time in Texas. Nike is based in Fort Worth. Texas is huge so it's some -- you probably cross about 15 different borders if you're in Europe. Actually, what is it, three-hour drive from Dallas?
Q. Four hours.
PAUL CASEY: It's around the corner then, isn't it?
Q. Compared to El Paso, yes. Maybe it's three the way you drive.
PAUL CASEY: No. I drive slowly. But no, it's been great. It really has. You know, I've stayed down The Houstonian. So got see little bit of Houston. Memorial Park, is it? Went cycling around there a few times. It's great. Everybody is jogging around there. Seems very, very, very nice.
We've got friends who come from Houston. They're not here this week, but they say great things. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Been a bit of a trek backwards and forwards from the golf course, but it's nice to leave the golf course behind and get all the way down into Houston.
Q. Did Geoff wait for you and talk to you?
PAUL CASEY: Maybe. I'll keep that between Geoff and I.
Q. You want to share it?
PAUL CASEY: No.
Q. You guys battled. It's got to be a nice feeling.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah. Geoff wanted to win today. I know what it's like. He doesn't have to turn around and say "Go win it" or "I want you to win it" or anything like that. That's not what he said. He doesn't have to do anything like that, and he sort of did, which was very nice of him.
Q. When you look forward to next week, also, you had to call a penalty on yourself last year at the tournament. It was disappointing. Was it '79?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah.
Q. Just a tough, tough day. You have something to prove to yourself going back with that? You have great success there.
PAUL CASEY: Four appearances, three Top 11 finishes. It's not bad.
Q. Kind of a finish-off thing?
PAUL CASEY: I don't feel like I've got something to prove and I've got to go back and rid the demons Mondays or something like that. It will be The Masters 2009 and it's a new tournament. I don't feel like -- I can't step on the first tee with any sort of dash with any thoughts of last year. One shot at a time. How am I going to get around this golf course today and in as few a shots as possible.
Q. What was harder today, making the move you had to make and the birdies you had to get to get to 12 to hold it together with the tough pars were you making down the stretch?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah. I think it was sort of the middle of the round, really. Actually holes like 6 -- 5, 6, 7, I mean, they are brutal. They're really, really tough and the wind was whipping at that stage, incredibly difficult holes, easy to just ruin your round right there. And the same on holes like 11 today with that pin cut towards the water.
And then coming up 11, and I look across and here splash coming down 12 and then splash again on 12. It's just -- 12 is not -- it's one of the holes you're trying to attack and trying to make birdie on, which we did, but you get up there and you try not to notice those things. You look across and all three guys in the group in front were dropping on the bank on 12.
This is like a 3-iron off the tee. It was blowing that hard. Middle of the round for me was the toughest. Once I made birdie on 12 and 13 -- actually they played fairly straight forward. Huge up-and-down was probably the one on 14, and then after that, I played solid golf coming in.
Would be nice if the putt had gone in on 17 because that was a cracking 3-wood and 8 iron in there and a good putt. Actually had to read some wind into it, and it just didn't -- the wind didn't gust enough. That wasn't the difficult bit. The difficult bit was mid round.
Q. Can you talk about the bunker shot on 18 in regulation. Any chance to get aggressive with that?
PAUL CASEY: No. I wanted it to be a little bit -- one, it would be nice if I was standing in the bunker completely. Two, there was a lot of sand. So standing 1 foot out of the bunker with a lot of sand, don't want to get cute with that.
To be honest, it came out alright. It was probably just too far left, and that's why it rolled down the hill and got a mouthful of sand as well in the process.
It was water long. There was all sorts of issues. I just had to be sensible. If it got over that crest another 6 feet of pace, it was going to be pretty good.
Q. How do you describe the 18th, pretty brutal today?
PAUL CASEY: Pretty brutal. Plenty of room right. A very good hole. I'm glad they moved the tee up 10, 15 yards, whatever it was. I could have hit driver off the tee and given myself along iron in.
I chose to hit 3-wood off the tee mainly because the wind kind of coming off the left, I thought it was a challenging tee shot. You could hit it where Jeff Ogilvy hit it in the last third and fourth round, which was in the hospitality tent down the right, and he made four twice.
Maybe I should have taken driver, and we could have been doing this 45 minutes ago (laughter).
Q. What percentage of events you play are ball striker's tournaments in the sense that this one was?
PAUL CASEY: I'd like to think as many as possible. I'm still fine-tuning the schedule. For me it doesn't have to be a long golf course to be a ball striker's golf course. I've played Hilton Head as well, and you've got to shape the shots around there. That's something I quite enjoy doing.
I haven't seen the golf course yet. So I'm going on what guys have said. Ultimately, any golf course could be a ball striker's golf course. It depends on how the golf course is set-up. This was -- this has the design plus it was set-up that way and the conditions, triple whammy me.
Q. When did you actually commit to this event?
PAUL CASEY: Don't know. I actually bumped into some guys actually at Tiger's event, competitor's sponsors. Shouldn't mention who were from here. And said great things about it and considered it at that point. I'm not sure.
When did I commit to Houston? No idea. Under the pressure.
MRS. CASEY: Five weeks ago.
PAUL CASEY: Committing and when I'm actually going -- in my mind, you know, that's two different things. In my mind had it set in my mind in Christmas time I was going to play. When the commitment goes in, it's irrelevant.
Q. What do you think the snapshot you're going to take away or remember from this week with everything there was?
PAUL CASEY: Should have hit that pitch shot harder in the play off. Would have been nicer. I don't know. Fairly anticlimactic, wasn't it? I was sort of wanting a fist pump or jump in the air or something. Couldn't really do it with a tap-in.
DOUG MILNE: Real quick before we close, if you wouldn't mind just taking us through 3, 12, and 13, your birdies, and just give some clubs.
PAUL CASEY: You know, on the bogey on 2. Alright, 3.
DOUG MILNE: You can deal with the bogies, too.
PAUL CASEY: No. 2, 5-wood off the tee, 5-iron from -- gosh, I have no idea. Long way. Bunker right. Bunker shot over the green. Good up-and-down, actually, good bogey.
No. 3, 3-wood off the tee, probably 280, had 110 left. Hit pitching wedge just past the hole. Came back to about 4 feet, birdie.
No. 11, bogey. 3-wood off the tee, cut 3-wood. Finished left. Missed the fairway. 6-iron over the green from 175. Bunker shot past the flag 15 feet and missed the putt coming back.
No. 12, 3-iron off the tee, had 85 yards left. 52-degree wedge, become and run to 8 feet. Made it.
No. 13, driver left rough, 5-wood, 10 yards short of the green. Lob wedge from whatever 30 yards, flopped it up to 2 feet, tap-in, tap-in birdie.
Bogey on 18 was 3-wood off the tee, 3-iron from 215 yards into the bunker right. Splashed it out to 30 feet and two-putt.
Q. Real quick, how many drivers did you use today? Seems like a lot of 3-woods.
PAUL CASEY: Good question. One, now that I think about it.
DOUG MILNE: Which one was that?
PAUL CASEY: 13, the par 5.
Q. Is that different than what you were doing all week? Did the wind change your plan?
PAUL CASEY: To be honest, I didn't hit my drivers this week. The tee was up, for example, on No. 4 today. That has been a driver all week, but it was up 20 yards so I hit 3-wood. Buried in the bunker. No.
I put in a strong 3-wood this week, which was actually a test club for next week, but actually turned out, once I played after the Pro-Am on Wednesday, this is such a good club for this golf course. A 13-degree fairway wood that we decided to keep it in and it was a very good club. And it will stay in the bag for next week.
DOUG MILNE: Congratulations and best of luck at Augusta.
End of FastScripts