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July 14, 2009

Paul Casey


MARTIN PARK: Paul, welcome to Turnberry, three wins on three continents this year. Very, very good year for you. Must be quite pleased coming into this event in that sort of form.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I'm excited to be here. This is one of my -- maybe my favorite links golf course. It's been a while since I've played it in competition.
But it's been a good year so far. It's been it seems like a long year, I've played a lot of golf, but I've had a nice unfortunately a couple of weekends off beforehand and a nice week off preparing for this, so I'm raring to go and looking forward to it.
MARTIN PARK: You played the course this morning. Give us a thought on how things are going to fare this week.
PAUL CASEY: I think it's in fantastic shape. I played with Nick Dougherty and Justin Rose this morning. It's the best I've ever seen. It's the toughest I've ever seen it play. I think it's very much a tee shot golf course that's going to be very demanding for the tee shots.
I think if you look at the -- I think looked at some of the stats, and the way Nick Price and Greg Norman drove the ball when they won here, that was the key to their victory, getting the golf ball in play off the tee.
The way the greens are sort of shaped, the majority of the greens, with the exception of maybe 13, isn't it, 13 the one that's perched up, the ball sort of kicks in off the sides. So you can use that to your advantage, get the ball in the middle of the green, leave yourself a lot of 20-footers, 15-footers for birdie, which would be very nice. But it comes down to the tee shots; that's the key.

Q. Did you play in the Amateur in '96, and how did you do? I believe the conditions were as bad as they can be.
PAUL CASEY: They were shocking. I did. It was the only amateur I've ever played in. I started off pretty good. I think I was about 1- or 2-under through the first few holes in appalling weather.
I think nearing my 36th hole I think -- actually I think I needed to make par on the last to make the match play stages, and I buried it in the bunker on the corner and made 8. So no, I failed to qualify for match play.
It was good fun, actually. I'll bore you with a quick story. A gentleman I played with who is named Gary Shemano, a stockbroker in San Francisco, he stole the flag on the 14th hole, because he was having such an appalling time, and we were the last group out. He took it as a memento, and it's hanging in his office in San Francisco. I've seen it framed there; it's very nice. I can't blame him.
It was just very, very tough. And yeah, I'm not too scarred for life. I do like the golf course; it's just a shame we couldn't play it in good conditions.

Q. Have you been out; is that right? Have you been ill recently?
PAUL CASEY: I was a little bit poorly at the AT&T. I had -- it wasn't sort of swine flu symptoms, but it was sort of muscle aches and sore throat. Yeah, really struggled on the Thursday. The doctor gave me some stuff and I felt brilliant for the first nine holes on Friday, shot 5-under on the front side, and then the drug started to wear off and unfortunately missed the cut.
But I feel fine now. It's just sort of one of those things. I think I got -- looking back on the last few weeks, I got quite tired and a little bit fatigued. So I think it was just a body starting to break down, defenses going slightly and picked up a little bug.

Q. You're the second highest ranked player in this field, after we-all-know-who. Does that give you any pressure? Is it something you've thought about?
PAUL CASEY: No, I think the pressure I put on myself to play well in an Open Championship is enough. It's exciting to be the second highest ranked guy here. It means that -- it doesn't really mean anything. I mean, it is what it is. You hope you get a little bit of luck with the draw and you've got to play extremely good golf; it's as simple as that.
There are, I don't know, there's a whole bunch of guys who are capable of winning this thing. And as I said, this is a tee shot golf course. Obviously Tiger is the favourite. He's going to have to drive the ball extremely well if he wants to win.
But you can see guys who are good drivers of the golf ball, Kenny Perry, Ian Poulter, whoever it might be; just getting that golf ball down there in play is the key. And somebody who does that well and manages their game for 72 holes is going to be the guy who has a chance come Sunday, and that's what I've got to do. Being ranked No. 3 in the world means absolutely nothing so far for this week.

Q. It's always a difficult decision to make for any golfer, whether to go to Loch Lomond where there's huge prize money or to practise by yourself. You chose the second group. What was your thinking there?
PAUL CASEY: I haven't played Loch Lomond in probably five years. The last time I played it I missed the cut. I love the golf course; I think it's wonderful. It has been extremely wet in the past.
I've decided to stay away and prepare the game playing some links golf. And I continued to do that this year. Peter Kostis flew over the middle of last week and we got a lot of practise in.
Will I continue to do that? I don't know. Maybe I'm going to change up the schedule, I have no idea. It's a very difficult one to miss. It's obviously a big purse, a great field, and especially when it's sunny and you watch it on TV. It's one of the best places in the world to be if you're a golfer.
So I did watch it. I rarely watch golf. But I did watch it. And I was slightly envious of the conditions they were having until Sunday morning, when it was looking a bit rough.
We'll see. I've thrown in some different events this year. I may change it up a bit next year, we'll see.

Q. You're normally quite an attacking golfer. Will there be several holes out here, because of what you've just said, where you would fly it shy of those bunkers and maybe lay up and then go with a longer iron?
PAUL CASEY: Yes. With the way it's playing right now, the ball is running fairly well down the fairway, so it's not imperative to carry the ball long distances. You've just got to get the thing going on the right line. I'll probably hit I'm going to say four or five drivers off the tee today. Let me think of them quickly, thinking back, 18, 17, 12, and that might be it. Yeah, so three maybe. So not that many. Actually, no, I stand corrected, 3, as well. So four drivers.
I don't think that will be uncommon. I think you're going to see a lot of guys pulling out a strong 3-wood or a long iron just to chase the ball down there. It's imperative that you dodge those bunkers, but you can't be too cautious. You have to be aggressive to the sort of conservative areas.

Q. Where have you been playing links golf in the last week, Paul, and why would you rank Turnberry as your favourite? What is it about Turnberry?
PAUL CASEY: I've been playing links golf at Burhill. I read somewhere I was spotted playing links golf.
Sorry, what was the other half of the question?

Q. Why Turnberry?
PAUL CASEY: What do I love about Turnberry?

Q. That makes you rank it as your favourite.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it's a good question. I don't know. It's sort of a combination of aesthetic beauty and sort of toughness, the strategy of the golf course. It's got some brilliant golf holes. I think 16 is one of my favourite holes in the world. It's tougher now than it used to be.
But you've just got to stand up and hit great golf shots around this golf course at times. There are certainly times you can be cautious off the tee, but you don't want to leave yourself too much to do. You just have to stand up there and hit -- take some of the trouble on. And if you do that and you pull it off, you're rewarded, and I like that. A bit of risk/reward golf course. You're given options.
I stood on some tees today, and Justin, Nick and myself, the three of us, it took us a while to figure out what to do because you're given so many options. 10 would be an example; do you leave it short of the bunkers, do you take it right of them, do you take it over them or left of them? You have multiple options down on that tee shot.
What I haven't found out is if they're going to move that one up, because if they do, then it's going to -- we looked at the other tee shot from the forward tee. Again, it brings more options, and I like that. Not every links golf course has -- you have that ability to pick maybe four different lines off the tee.

Q. Does the scrutiny that your lofty position in the rankings has brought affect your performance at the last major, the U.S. Open, and have you become more comfortable with it, more accustomed to the extra attention it brings now?
PAUL CASEY: I feel very comfortable with the extra attention. I'm not big on -- I'm not sort of -- the attention hasn't bothered me. Maybe it was a little bit strange the first couple of weeks, but I feel absolutely fine with it now. And suddenly that's not something that I'm looking for; I'm just trying to play as good a golf as possible.
Did it affect my golf at Bethpage? I don't think so. I think I just ran out of juice. I didn't swing the golf club particularly well. I tried to guide the golf ball around that golf course, and that's not something you can do around Bethpage. Combined with fatigue, I just -- that was a fairly lacklustre performance. I'd like to blame it on something else, but I can't.

Q. (No microphone.)
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I feel very good. And I have another two weeks off after this, as well, because there's a lot of golf left coming up the rest of the year, very important golf. But I feel very good.
It was frustrating to have a weekend off at Tiger's event, as well, a good golf course. Just the first Thursday was unfortunate, but I haven't been sick in a long time. I've been pretty healthy, which I've been lucky.
It is what it is. If it happens once a year, you have to roll with the punches and deal with it. I'm glad I played there, as well, because it wasn't something that I've had on the schedule in the past, and now I've had a look at Congressional, and I know we're going to be back there in a couple of years for the U.S. Open. I've seen some new tees back there, as well. That's going to play very, very long. It's a good golf course and a great tournament, and it was nice to support Tiger in what he's doing.

Q. I want to get your opinion on something. This course over the years has given up some low, low, low scores, Norman famously three-putted the last hole for a 63 one year.
PAUL CASEY: Did he three-putt?

Q. Maybe it wasn't that famous. I'm wondering with the changes and such if a low number is still out there if you get good weather, because with the bowl-shaped greens and all that, it seems if you're in the fairway you're going to have a chance to birdie on a lot of holes you might not on some of the other links courses.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, if you have a benign day I could see it. But even with -- I guess it's a fairly small amount of wind we've had the last couple of days, I wouldn't see a 63. Having said that, when I played Congressional a couple of weeks ago, I didn't see -- did AK shoot 8-under the first day and Hunter shot, what, 8-under the final day. And apparently pin positions were tough.
So never say never. There's always somebody who finds a way around a golf course. That always happens when you've got this many good players together. Somebody is going to pull it out of the bag. Hopefully that's me. We'll see.

Q. I think it was Troon where you got off to a really good start. What are your recollections of that? Was it at all scary to be in that position at that stage in your career? I know you're a totally different player now.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I'm a very different player now and, yes, it was probably quite scary. Yeah, it was probably a little out of my depth at that stage. I think I finished 20th that year or something like that, in the 20s, maybe. Yeah, I feel a lot more comfortable standing on the first tee, anyway, even if it's The Open Championship. But I would love to have that start here.
I think I shot like 4-under, 6-under, something like that. 66 seems to ring a bell. The first round tied with Thomas Levet, and he's playing this week. So maybe it's a good omen.

Q. When you were ill, did it cross your mind you might have had swine flu?
PAUL CASEY: No, I think there's a lot of -- no. No, it's all been blown out of proportion. How many people have died from regular flu since swine flu popped up, and how many people have actually died from swine flu? It's not something that actually crossed my mind. I'm not saying it's nice, but no, I'm not too worried about it. I don't see any of you wearing masks.

Q. Just slightly curious, when you were out there with Justin today and Nick, were you sharing information with each other on the tees, or were you actually doing your own thing?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, we did. We shared a bit of information today. I mean, the 10th tee is a good example. We talked it through. Nobody wanted to be the first guy up and hit it. Nick, both of them, I didn't play 10 yesterday and they both talked about how they played it yesterday, leaving it short. I think Nick hit 4-iron, 4-iron into that hole. I saw something different. I saw 3-wood, splitting the bunkers down, I guess, the center, and the bunker on the right, which left me 195 to the hole today. And Justin hit 2-iron off the tee. There's multiple ways of playing that hole, but we all talked about it.
I think it's interesting to see -- get inside the brains of guys and how they see the golf hole.
It ultimately didn't change the way I pictured it; I'm going to stick with that, because I think it's worth taking that small amount of risk to give myself an easy approach shot. But I think it's interesting nobody opted for the bold route down the left-hand side. Maybe they learnt a little. But I think Nick after seeing my 3-wood down the right-hand side and finish on some nice flat area in the fairway, he liked that place, so maybe that will assist him, but it swings around about.

Q. Do you feel that you really have to contend in a major first before you go that other step, because I know you came sixth in the Masters, but really be down there on the stretch to be in it?
PAUL CASEY: I've felt it before; I tied into the lead going into the back nine at Augusta at least once, maybe twice. I've been in the mix. I know what the pressure is like. And it's time to sort of put myself in the mix again.
I think the win in Houston was huge, a big boost to know I can -- to get that win in the States finally. I've wanted that for a long time.
And the next thing on the list is the big stuff, the majors, the World Golf events. I'm comfortable with that. I've got to keep plugging away and improving the game. But I know how to win; I've just got to give myself the opportunities, and I really want to be sort of -- it's not good enough to be tied for the lead the last nine holes to go. I want to be sort of tied for the lead or one shot back or one shot ahead with three or four to go, that's when it really counts, and see what I'm made of, because I think I'd have a pretty good shot.

Q. Are you glad in a way that golf isn't as big in the hype stakes and the Open isn't as big in the hype stakes as say Wimbledon is, because if you were the No. 2 ranked British tennis player going in, the pressure on you would be extraordinary and your image would be everywhere? Are you glad that's not the case in a way?
PAUL CASEY: I'm glad I don't play tennis, because I'm not very good at it. I don't know. It's very difficult to know what it's like for Andy Murray. I can't imagine.
Knowing who I am, how much of that is created by the media, how much of that is created by the player? It's difficult to tell. But it's a difficult question to answer.
I'm one of those guys who I like to -- I'm not trying to -- it's not all about hype for me, it's very much about the results and that's all that really matters. And I understand if I don't -- I need to continue to produce those results.
There are another 100-plus guys this week who are very capable of winning this golf event. You can see with Lucas winning the U.S. Open, he's an incredibly talented guy. And he wasn't talked about much, even during that final round. I watched it. I think Johnny Miller mentioned his name once coming down the stretch. But all of a sudden, U.S. Open champion. So nobody saw that one coming. A lot of people did; a lot of people didn't.
So that's the way golf is. Tennis is about winning. Andy Murray spends 90 percent of his time, plus, winning. Golfers don't do that -- well, unless you're Tiger Woods. So that's why the hype isn't there. And I think that's a good thing.
I think you've got to continue to produce the results, and I try and get my win percentage up, if I can.
MARTIN PARK: Paul, thank you very much for coming in.

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