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June 16, 2009

Paul Casey


BETH MURRISON: Good morning, and welcome again to the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage. We're very happy to have Paul Casey with us this morning. Paul is playing in his seventh U.S. Open but his first at Bethpage. Paul, you said you played the course last Tuesday. Could you give us some of your thoughts about the course.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, came up on Tuesday. Big rainstorm in the morning. Actually hung out in Bethpage at the coffee shop and had the breakfast wrap special, which I recommend.
And had a great time. Got to play the golf course mid-morning. Fairly empty. Phil was out there. I don't think we saw anybody else. I thought it was one of the finest golf courses I've ever played. Very fair, extremely strong. Short par-3s, long par-3s, short par-5s, long par-5s. Yeah, impressive, very impressive golf course. Not only that, the way we were treated on Tuesday was phenomenal.
The guys who work here, Lee and his staff, were exceptional, took care of us. So it was a thoroughly enjoyable day. And looking forward to getting back out there this afternoon.
BETH MURRISON: You've enjoyed success so far this year on the Tour with a win in Houston and a runner-up in the Match Play. Can you talk a little bit about your game heading into this week.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, golf has been great this year. I need to continue that run and keep putting in the hard work. And I feel we're sort of getting into the meat of the season right now.
Not that the beginning of the year hasn't sort of counted for anything, but with three majors coming up in fairly quick succession, it's very important that I continue to play that good golf.
The majors are still the things on top of the goals list. And although this year it's been phenomenal, I think those are the things which ultimately define guys' careers. And I don't have a major, and I would dearly love one. So this is very important for me to try and play great golf, continue that good form through the next two, three, four months.

Q. Being No. 3 in the world, does that help or hinder you when you are heading into a major? Does it give you a bit of extra confidence you should be right out there at the end of it?
PAUL CASEY: I haven't spent too much time worrying or taking notice of the rankings. I've always looked at World Ranking points; certainly World Ranking points accumulated in the year is sort of a nice measure of how I've been playing. And clearly I've accumulated a lot so far this year.
But the actual, the No. 3 ranking is not something that I've worried too much about. And I don't think it's going to be a hindrance too much. I feel I may be paired -- I thought they may go with the same pairings last year with the top three guys.
Actually thought about that back at Wentworth, and I thought that would be quite exciting. As it happens that's not the way it turns out this week. I've got a very good paring with Ogilvy and Furyk. But to me, yeah, the No. 3 doesn't -- I haven't allowed it to become a hindrance.
I haven't got sort of too wrapped up in -- I guess media would be the only thing that sort of could be restrictive, sort of taking too much of my time maybe and preparing. But I've not allowed that to happen.
And we've got a field of extremely good players, great players who will want to win this week. So I've got my work cut out and I've got to worry about my own game and not worry about anything else.

Q. You said you saw Phil last Tuesday. How difficult do you think it's going to be for him this week going through this with what he's going through, and how well do you know Amy?
PAUL CASEY: How well do I know Phil?

Q. How well do you know Amy?
PAUL CASEY: I can only imagine how difficult it's going to be for Phil. I read a quote that what Harrington said was he actually felt when his father was sick that the golf course was his sort of sanctuary; he was able to get out there and take his mind out of what was going on at home and away from the golf course.
Hopefully that's the same for Phil. I know he's loved up here, and he would love to win the U.S. Open at Bethpage, he really would.
So yeah, you'd have to ask him. I spoke to him briefly on Tuesday. I can tell -- I could just look in his eyes and you can see that he's not his usual self. And I hope he does play great golf, and I hope he goes away from this week with -- lots of guys who want to win, but if I can't win, I think it would be very fitting or great that Phil would win and go away from this and take care of the family and hope that Amy gets better.

Q. Do you know Amy at all?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I do know Amy, and she's a wonderful person. So just hope everything pans out fine.

Q. Just coming back to this No. 3 thing, I read somewhere in some of the American sites there's a certain degree of skepticism about the fact that you've got to No. 3. I wonder what you thought of that skepticism.
PAUL CASEY: I don't make the system, so I'm not one who comes up with how the World Rankings are devised. I've got three wins this year and a second place finish, and I've accumulated a lot of points.
So I've played the system very well, won the points and moved up. I must be surprised -- I'm surprised I'm No. 3 in the world, but that's the way the system works.
So are the World Rankings perfect? There's a big debate. I have felt that my only thing I would tweak with the World Rankings is sort of devise the way sometimes it penalizes, certainly penalizes guys who like to play a lot of golf. That's something I would like to tweak if I had the opportunity.
But who else has won three times this year around the world?

Q. As an American journalist who is not skeptical of your No. 3 ranking, by the way, obviously being from the UK, the Open Championship would mean a lot to you. But I'm wondering if you could put into words what it would mean to win America's national Open.
PAUL CASEY: I think it would be fairly significant. Tony Jacklin, 1970, Hazeltine. So, yeah, it would be very significant. I was shocked after winning Houston that I was thinking the only fifth Englishman. I may be wrong, correct me if I'm wrong, fifth Englishman to win on the PGA TOUR in the sort of -- I'm not sure if that's right. Oostie, Faldo, Westy, Jacklin, I don't know. Luke. Maybe six.
You know, the Open Championship is obviously the one that's closest to my heart because it's my home major, my home championship. I think the U.S. Open, the only reason it would be second is because the Open would be my home championship. And that was the only -- it's the only reason I can give you.
I think the Masters has always been the one which I felt I had the best opportunity to win. This would be the one that maybe I've struggled at the most. So as a personal sort of victory, I think it would be, sort of almost seen as a greater achievement because I haven't -- I haven't played particularly well at the Open Championship, either. And to do something that hasn't been achieved in 39 years would be massive. So I would love to try and achieve that.

Q. You got married at the end of last year, and those of us who have a fanciful nature like to attribute the three wins and the second-place and this form to something that we might call a settling in your life. Are we overdoing that, or have we actually hit the nail on the head?
PAUL CASEY: I think that's fairly accurate. I will admit that I'm fairly settled with my life. I seem to have struck a nice balance between on and off the golf course, life on and off.
So, yeah, I guess so. Maybe I should have got married earlier, I guess, if I knew this was going to happen. But I didn't know that. I'm just very comfortable. I'm working hard than I've ever worked before, but I'm also enjoying my time off the golf course more than I ever have before.
Golf is not the most important thing to me in life, and I understand that now, and I'm very comfortable with that. It doesn't mean I try any less than I did before. If anything, I'm driven more. I spend more time practicing, but I can let it go and be comfortable with whatever happens, whether it's good or bad. So I'm very happy?

Q. What are your impressions of the 7th hole and the 15th green?
PAUL CASEY: 7th on Tuesday was a driver and a 5-wood, and it was no wind. It was quite damp. But it was a very generous driving area and a very perfect green for that sort of length hole, big, flat, well-guarded where there's bunkers in the front. Just a very strong golf hole. But it can be birdied with two well-struck shots and you're going to pay the price if you miss that fairway, which is only fair.
15 green, you don't want to hit it left, miss that green left, because that would be trouble. Why 15 green?

Q. Is it slow?
PAUL CASEY: I think it's a very good golf hole. I think it's extremely difficult -- if anything, my focus on that hole, the difficulty would be the tee shot, because without having -- there's no bunkering down that fairway. So obviously the fairway is nicely defined with the way the rough is cut.
But the way it's angled it's all about line and distance off the tee shot. Big fan of that. And you've got to find that fairway; it's imperative. If you don't, then it's very, very difficult. You can get away with missing that green right and still making birdie or par.
The green doesn't bother me. You will see guys -- there will be a couple of three-putts there this week. But I think the fairway is more difficult to hit on the hole than the green?

Q. Did I read something recently, you're building a house or recently built a house. I was wondering if that was true, whether there were any uniquely Paul Casey things in there or cool dude things you might be willing to tell us about. And second, I'll throw this at you because I get the mic back, does being No. 3 in the world cause you to think any differently about yourself and maybe stop beating yourself up so much?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, we're building a house. But I wouldn't tell you any more than that. We're just moving a little bit further south. We've been in North Scottsdale. We're going to go more towards down Paradise Valley, if you know Arizona at all. Various reasons. Something Jocelyn and I wanted to do for a while, so it's nice to be able to do that. So far it's an enjoyable process. But we'll see how long that lasts.
We're enjoying our architect and builder. We'll see whether it comes in on budget or not.
And what was it, am I beating myself up? I'm not beating myself up up on the golf course. I'm always critical of myself if I don't perform well or not working as hard as I should be. If anything, I feel like I have maybe a little bit more pressure because I feel I have more responsibility now, maybe being watched a little bit more.
There was a kid in the restaurant last night who spotted us at the table next door. He claims that I'm actually his favorite golfer in Tiger Woods' PGA TOUR game, which he may have said just because I was sitting there.
But it's a situation where people are going to sort of or people have been sort of spotting me a bit more. So it's my responsibility to make sure I'm doing the right thing, especially for kids and people who are looking at me as a role model.

Q. Do you like being a celebrity?
PAUL CASEY: I'm not big on celebrity. I don't like that word. I'm an athlete. I'm a golfer. I'm happy with that word. And I'm happy to set an example with work ethic and hopefully how I behave on the golf course and off the golf course. I'm a sportsman, I'm an athlete. Not a celebrity.

Q. Since 2002, all the other players have been saying how difficult this course is. How intimidating is the course? And if it is, what is it that is intimidating about it?
PAUL CASEY: That's a good question. I'm not sure if one round is enough to know yet. It's just -- seems to be just strong hole after strong hole from what I saw on Tuesday.
Certainly the finish is exceptionally strong. 15, 16, 17, 18 are brilliant. 15, 16, no bunkering on the fairway yet. They seem to be extremely difficult fairways to find. It's imperative you find those, otherwise I don't think you're really going to get it on the green. There's a little opening on 16. You might be able to run it up if you're on the left side. But I wouldn't count your chickens.
I know some of the things they're going to do, I think I know some of the things they're going to do from talking to the greens staff on Tuesday. Holes like 14, the par-3, they're going to go with a front tee and a front left pin location, where the green's probably only five yards wide at the front and the hole will only play 130, 135, 140, maybe a little bit more than that.
Yet it's terrifying because you've got nowhere to miss it. If you hit it long to the middle of the green you've got a treacherous putt down that slope. You miss it in the bunkers left or right, I don't think you can get it up-and-down.
And I think when guys are -- I think it's brilliant when you can scare guys with a pitching wedge. It doesn't happen enough. And I wish it would happen more, holes like Postage Stamp or 17 at Sawgrass or whatever it is. They're brilliant holes, and there are a couple of them here. 8 will be another one. I'm sure they'll have the front tee and front left pin location on 8 as well.
It's not just the length around here; it's the way they can set this up. They have options with the tees. And obviously brutal rough if you hit it far enough off line. But it's a combination. I think this is an exceptional golf course. And I would consider living in New York if I could play this at $45. (Laughter.)

Q. In the latter years of Tom Meeks' tenure setting the course standard and so forth, there were a lot of complaints that the USGA got away from the fairness part of their pledge to make it the toughest test of golf but a fair test of golf. Since Mike Davis has taken over, they've done a lot more to introduce reward opportunities, expanding some of the fairways, even here putting some shots reachable to the fairway and also the graduated rough, that kind of thing. Have you seen a change? Because you were there for I think the last three of Tom Meeks' U.S. Opens, maybe you withdrew from one but the last three, do you feel they've gotten back to making it a tough but fair test of golf?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, certainly a fair test of golf now. It's a difficult one, because to me the U.S. Open was always the toughest test in golf.
Did it go too far? Well, clearly it did at Shinnecock. I missed the cut there but I did make 6 on that hole in the second round, missed the cut by one. I teed off on the back so I only had a couple of holes after that 6 to try and make the cut, and I missed.
So although I wasn't there for the weekend and I saw what happened, I feel that I got called out slightly by that hole, as did a lot of other players.
To me it was always you went in there with the attitude knowing that it was going to be tough, maybe horrible. But that's what you were prepared for.
Yeah, I don't know -- I talk to guys, I talked to Miller Barber at the range a couple of days ago and he said the rough was always a foot, two feet deep when he was playing. He told a story, at Oakmont when he played the U.S. Open there and struck a second shot, landed in the middle of the green. The first hole down the hill there. And he hit it in the middle of the green, went over the back. I can't remember who he was playing with. They looked for the golf ball and never found it.
And I can't remember who was setting up, the equivalent of Tom Meeks or Mike Davis back then. And he said something, and the sort of answer back was well, you should have struck it better, basically.
So if Miller was telling stories and it was like that for when he was playing, when Miller Barber was in his prime, then that's kind of been the way it's always been. It hasn't just been Tom Meeks, clearly.
So then you sort of say where are we going now? I happen to think it's an absolutely brilliant setup this week. And I loved what Mike did with Torrey Pines last year. There were certainly places where you couldn't move the golf ball if you hit it, but it gave you that option if you only were just off the fairway.
And sometimes that element of doubt in your mind, maybe I can get it there, when that happens sometimes you can compound errors if you're not careful. I'm a big fan of that.
So I think we're getting away from where it used to be. And if everybody else is fine with that, then I think that's great, because I'm loving what I'm seeing right now. And I think Mike should be applauded for the way he set up Torrey Pines and I think he'll be applauded when this week is all said and done.

Q. What have you been working on with Peter recently? And secondly, could you just sort of describe what your working relationship and personal relationship is like with Peter?
PAUL CASEY: We spent time here on Tuesday last week and I spent a lot of time with him up in Maine after that working on the game. Not too much really with the swing, just fine-tuning it. It got a little bit sloppy, got a little bit tired at Memorial.
Memorial was the third week in a row after the victory at Wentworth and then I played pretty good in Fort Worth, and if anything it was more fatigue than the golf swing breaking down. We fine-tuned it, get it back to where it needs to be, but nothing drastic.
You're just going to need good solid ball-striking this week. You're going to need everything. Ball-striking, short game, putting. So we're fine-tuning that.
Our relationship, he's like my second dad or third dad, I guess. You've got my father-in-law. And he's often said I'm kind of like his third son, sort of the annoying one who doesn't return phone calls. (Laughter.)
I feel very much a part of his family and I'm very lucky for that. He's got two great kids. And I say I get treated as part of the family, and that's our relationship. Because of that, I think he can often say things to me that I don't want to hear, you know, that are the truth. Sometimes they're not nice. But because of that he's made me into a better player and a better person.

Q. You've had a lot of success hitting your 3-wood in your wins this year. How often are you going to have to hit your driver around here?
PAUL CASEY: Hang on, quickly count for you. I think maybe four times on the front. Four, five, seven, maybe nine. Depending on tee locations. Maybe off the 1st. I'm not sure. And on the back nine, I've just spaced out.
Certainly -- I say certainly, depending on wind, prevailing wind. I'm going to say probably 10, 12, 13. Maybe 15, maybe 16, so what's that? So it could be -- it could be as high as 10 or 11 and it could be as low as seven, let's say, just depends. Depends on whether it stays cold and damp and depends what the wind does, because I wasn't seeing much run on the fairways. The 3-wood I've got in the bag is fairly strong, more like a 2-wood.
You'll see holes -- if 13 is not going to be reachable, then I don't see why -- if driver gets into a particular narrow part of the fairway, for whatever reason, then I might even pull out 3-wood even on some of the long holes if I'm going to play 13 as a three-shotter.

Q. Will this be a driver's golf course?
PAUL CASEY: It's a ball-striker's golf course. Length will certainly be an advantage. You could call that a driver's golf course. It's a ball-striker's golf course because you have to hit the irons well. It's not just about the driver. Driver's only half the battle.

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