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January 20, 2010

Paul Casey


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks for coming in and joining us, as always. Welcome to the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship once again, and Happy New Year to you. I suppose if anybody knows how to play this golf course, two victories in the last three years, I think it's safe to say you're pleased to be back here.
PAUL CASEY: Correct. Very happy to be back here. It's a place that I enjoy being at, a golf course I play well at, and ready to go. Haven't played very much golf, as you know. So very excited to get back out on the golf course and chip off the rust and see what kind of state the game is in.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Talking about the game, how are you physically? We all know the problems you had last year; are they completely behind you now, or are you confident?
PAUL CASEY: I think I'm 95 per cent. There's no pain in the ribs where I tore the muscles last year. I actually got tired yesterday because the rough is very thick on the golf course this week and I don't quite have the full range of motion that I would like. The body has attuned itself slightly to what I did to myself last year. So I'm still trying to get that range of motion and break away, so I am unable to swing a golf club like I was this time last year. But it's still good enough to get it airborne.
SCOTT CROCKETT: As you say, that aside, how do you feel the game is, injury aside?
PAUL CASEY: It's just rusty, simple as that. You know, it's good enough to get around a golf course, and you know in Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, I managed to shoot 15-under par and tie for 10th place.
Yeah, it's just a matter of just playing the golf and that's what I'm lacking right now.

Q. What compensations or alterations have you had to make physically not having a full range of motion?
PAUL CASEY: I'm trying not to make any compensations. I don't want the swing to change. It's just I can't quite get fully turned all the way back and I haven't quite got the extension through. So perhaps not quite having fluidity that I would like. I don't want to compensate because that would lead to problems in the future.
So it's just a case the ball isn't quite going as far as I want it to go and occasionally I don't quite get the shots. I occasionally come out of the shot and I can miss it left and right. I think it's just going to come back with time and practise.

Q. What is it about Abu Dhabi that suits your game so well?
PAUL CASEY: To me it's always been a golf course that if you drive the golf ball very well, you can take advantage. The fairways are tight, the rough is very thick, and length has always been I think an advantage out here. You can take some of the trouble out of play.
And there is nothing really that tricky about the golf course, so that's a huge advantage if you can get the golf ball a long way down the fairway consistently. You know, there's holes out there that become very difficult or unmanageable if you miss the fairway, and it's as simple as that. That's always been a key in the past is I've been a good driver of the golf ball, and that's going to be the key this week. If I can drive the golf ball well, I feel like compete.

Q. You mentioned it's a big advantage to hit a ball here long, so conversely, how big of a disadvantage are you going to be at --
PAUL CASEY: It's not insurmountable. You know, I get -- the golf ball is still going a long way, it's just not as long as I would like it to go. I know this golf course well enough that I think even with my game not quite where I want it to be, if I manage myself and manage the golf ball very well this week, there's no reason why I can't be up there with a chance to win.
So the only thing I'm lacking is sort of the game sharpness. I made quite a few errors at the Chevron tournament before Christmas. Showed signs -- on Sunday I shot 64, which was low round of the week, and then the same in Hawaii a couple of weeks ago. I made plenty of birdies but just made too many mistakes.
So that's what I've got to try and get rid of, because with the quality of field that we have this week, you can't afford to make mistakes like that and expect to be up on the leaderboard.

Q. Any idea when you'll be back to 100 per cent?
PAUL CASEY: I think it's just see what happens. The doctor said it could be as much as a year before it's 100 per cent. Nothing I can do to speed that up. That area of the body where the ribs, there's not very much blood flow, so it can take the longest to heal, which is frustrating.
Occasionally I sort of guard against it. I got in the rough yesterday and probably didn't hit it as hard as I would like to, or as hard as I would have hit it in the past.
I'm conscious of it. There's nothing to say I couldn't do it again, which is slightly scary. I just have to hit it straight.

Q. Are you looking at playing more in America than Europe and what's your plans for this year, concentrating on majors?
PAUL CASEY: My focus last year was to give equal importance to every event and I did that very well for the first six months. I think the results I had -- it was evident in the results I had.
So to me nothing has changed. I feel like maybe there's a little -- last year was a season that kind of was unfortunate in that it sort of slipped away. The goal is to stay healthy for 12 months and replicate the golf that I played last year. The golf last year was fantastic in the beginning. Maybe a little bit of unfinished business; I'd like to get out there and have a full season and see how it goes.
The schedule will be much the same as it was last year. I don't think I'm really going to mess anything up. It will be fairly even between both tours. As always, preparation for the majors is very important, but as I said, the goal is still very much -- and this week is important because I feel that I have a chance to win this golf tournament, and that's why I'm here, not just because I'm defending champion.

Q. Have you taken any tournaments away or changed your workload this year so you don't aggravate your injury?
PAUL CASEY: It kind of went the other way unfortunately, looking at the beginning of the year at the calendar, I was sort of -- I almost feel anxious to get out there and play golf because I've missed it. I've put down way too many events. I usually play about 25 tournaments a year, and after going through it at Christmastime and ticking off the events I want to play in, I ended up with 30-plus events, which is clearly too many.
I'll try and keep it at 25 and obviously that would be with The Ryder Cup. I won't be sort of avoiding any golf courses because the rough is too thick or anything like that. To me they are always fairly obvious: The majors, World Golf Championships, BMW Wentworth, PLAYERS Championship, and you sort of work your way be down. Hopefully take care of business out here. I don't think there will be any surprises. It will be much the same as you've seen from me in the past few years.

Q. As Abu Dhabi is the first European Tour event of the year, from previous experience, how important is a really good result here to the season ahead and confidence?
PAUL CASEY: I think for me, it's trying to get 12 months of healthy golf. I need to build my confidence backup. It not quite where I want it to be but I'm going to take things one tournament at a time. Having missed so much golf last year, it made me realise how much I love this game and very lucky to do what I do.
So I'm not -- it's not the sort of, as you say, the be-all and end-all of I've got to come this week and I've got to win and if I don't, 2010 is not going to be as good as I want it to be. You know, I'm enjoying my golf. I'm enjoying being back out on the golf course. So for me every week is very, very exciting.
Obviously I want it to be a fantastic year and get back in the winner's circle as quickly as possible, but I'm not putting any added pressure on myself.

Q. You were a contender to win The Race to Dubai before you were injured, is that one of your priorities?
PAUL CASEY: I'd love to do it. Coming close a couple of years ago to Padraig was disappointing, but it made me work that much harder and that much more eager to try and add a Race to Dubai title.
Sitting back and watching Lee and Rory go at it was fun, because it was fantastic golf, and Lee's final round was I think the round of the year on The European Tour. Great stuff to watch.
It was disappointing not to be part of that, and try and challenge them coming down the stretch, but that's the way it was. There was nothing I could do about it. It just added more fuel to the fire, a little bit more desire, and I'd be very sort of eager and determined to work this out as I can without pushing it too far and sort of wearing myself out.
But having a nice sort of long-term goal set out, and that's one of my goals. It's just nice to -- I would love to have my name on it. Disappointed I wasn't the first guy to do it.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Paul, thank you very much. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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