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March 3, 2010

Paul Casey


PHIL STAMBAUGH: We welcome Paul Casey into the interview room this afternoon. Paul, your third appearance on the PGA TOUR this year. You're runner-up at the World Golf Championships Accenture Match-Play Championship two weeks ago, current rank, world No. 6. And you had a couple of good finishes earlier in the year on The European Tour, T-5 at the Qatar Masters. A couple thoughts about coming in to this week's Honda Classic and where your game is right now.
PAUL CASEY: Well, based on the way I played today, the game was tough today, very difficult. The game is in pretty good shape I feel. The Match Play was good golf. Ran into another buzzsaw in the shape of Ian Poulter this year. But it's been -- I'm pretty happy with things.
Starting this year, really I was just looking forward to getting back and playing golf after missing the latter half of last year and didn't know what to expect so just going to go out there and have fun and enjoy myself. I've already posted I think three Top-10s, and it's going along pretty good. Moving back up in the World Rankings, so I'm not going to complain. I've still got a lot of work to do and things that can be polished up in the game, but all in all, I'm very, very satisfied.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you talk about this course a little bit?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it was first time around today. I had seen enough on TV, so I knew what to expect certainly the last few holes. But it's very tough. Difficult golf course. Clearly not the wind we are used to around here. With that wind today and the coldness it was very, very difficult it. Clearly a ball-striker's golf course, and you know, it's going to be difficult. But it's nice to be back.
I haven't played a Honda in a long time, and actually I met my wife at the Honda Classic back in 2001 when it was at TPC Heron Bay. To it's kind of like an anniversary.

Q. Is it maybe just where it sits on the schedule or something about the course, there are so many top international players that chose to be here this week. Any rhyme or reason as to why that might be?
PAUL CASEY: I must admit I'm very pleasantly surprised at the field. It's stacked with, yeah, the world's best. I didn't really -- I had not really paid any attention to what kind of field we were going to get this year.
For me it was just trying to schedule things nicely, and the reason for not playing last week and playing this week was just trying to get a balance through the schedule, get some flow. I was going to play Houston, Augusta, Hilton Head like I did last year and I wanted to keep things roughly the same. Just felt this was a good one to throw in, a golf course I had heard a lot about, wanted to play it.
I can't explain why everybody else is here. Clearly there's something about it. Maybe it the golf course. But I think once you start to get a lot of the world's -- the top guys in the World Rankings, I think more come along because the World Ranking points will be here.
I didn't even know Westwood was playing. Is Westwood playing? I had no idea he was playing this week until the 18th when I just saw his big face on the screen. I had no idea. And Rory is here, as well. I think I saw Rory.

Q. Every year it seems like you're more and more prominently mentioned among the favorites when the majors roll around in the season. Do you like being part of that conversation? Does it put undue expectation on you, or is it something that you're pleased to hear?
PAUL CASEY: I don't think it's a bad thing. I put enough pressure on myself anyway with my expectations. I feel very honored and flattered to be mentioned in those sort of conversations.
It's certainly something that I -- majors are what I want. I mean, that's my goal. You know, I think I'm getting closer to achieving that goal. I don't know, you know, if it will happen, when it will happen. I want it to happen and I'm trying as hard as I can to put everything in place.
But yeah, it's nice to be sort of mentioned. You know, I've had some okay results. The one I always look forward to the most is Augusta because it always suits my game.

Q. Is that the one that you think suits you more than the other majors?
PAUL CASEY: I think so.

Q. Why?
PAUL CASEY: A little bit my ball flight, high irons, I drive it well. It forced you to hit certain shots. In the past I've struggled, like The Open Championship, because you've actually got so many options that I've not been disciplined enough to pick a particular type of shot. Do I want to run it on the ground or do I want to hit it high or what do I want to do with the golf ball; I've kind of made the mistake of not picking a particular shot and sticking with it.
And Augusta kind of forces your hand. When you stand there on certain tee shots, like the 9th tee, you've got to hit a quality drive with a little bit of turn on it. Otherwise, you're not going to hit that fairway and you're going to be down on the right-hand side. And if you overdo it, you're in the trees. You have to hit that shot and pull it off. And I kind of like that. I like that challenge. But I've also been aware that's kind of been my downfall in certain other events because I've not been disciplined enough. It teaches me at the same time.

Q. With Houston and whatnot last year being right before, and obviously lots of jumping up and down and yelling and screaming, for good reason, you played great there. Did that let any of the air out of your balloon the following week? Did you feel like you're -- you've been fighting for how long to get your foot in the door on this tour and finally climbed the mountain, and then you have to turn around and play a major five minutes later, which seemed like you might have been a little decompressed?
PAUL CASEY: Yes (laughing).

Q. That will teach you for winning. Never do that again.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, and I've suffered from that before, in Europe, as well. Not just first PGA -- because it was the first PGA TOUR victory, but I've done the same in -- if you look at Qater, it's my fourth appearance in Qatar. It's the first time I ever made the cut.
Two previous occasions, I missed the cut, I put it down to probably because I won the week before in Abu Dhabi. I don't remember where I finished last year at Augusta, middle of the pack, 30th, 40th, 20th, I don't know. But I was playing great golf, but I just, like you said, there was nothing left. My legs were a little bit tired. Maybe the mind wasn't on it on certain shots.
So, yeah, I'd love to be in the same position.

Q. We talked to you about this outside, I'm thinking of Ross Fisher, yourself, Poulter and the guys that have sniffed in majors here already, how many guys do you think from England proper have the chops to win a major right now, roughly? Justin Rose has held the lead at the Masters; he had a 36-hole lead a couple of years ago?.
PAUL CASEY: I think everybody you mentioned. Westy ,as well.

Q. Might be the top of the list.
PAUL CASEY: And where did Chris Wood finish in The Open?

Q. Top-5.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, so I think all those guys you mentioned. I mean, I don't know how many that is, six, seven guys or something like that. I think all of them have got it -- all of them are very, very capable of winning it. Some have more experience than others. I would put guys like Westy, Westy and Poulter, you know, ahead of certain other guys. But all of them are very, very capable.

Q. In some ways, are part of you all the generation of kids that sort of idolized Faldo at his prime and that maybe that is why there's this wave now of people? I know they all came from different places and different backgrounds, but it seems to be this great wave of English golfers now. Was part of Faldo maybe an influence?
PAUL CASEY: I think so. And as much as Faldo was a hero of mine, he wasn't my only hero. So I've got to give credit to Langer, Seve, Woosie, Lyle, Olazábal was quite young but he was already, you know, Major Champion at an early age.
For me, it was all of those guys. Maybe if you asked Ian or somebody like that, it might have been just Faldo, I don't know. But they are definitely the reason I think you've got such a wave of guys coming through now. I mean, they always say, an overnight success takes ten, 15, 20 years, especially in this sport.
Did you figure out what year Lyle won the Masters? '88 was the first one I remember on TV watching. And clearly in the 80s when the Europeans won, what, half of the Masters through the 80s, yeah, I mean, so I was -- that's when I was starting the game, '88. I was 11 years old.
That's when I started to stop playing the football and the cricket and the tennis and the rugby and all of the other sports I played as a kid and focused on the golf. So, yeah, without a doubt, it's those guys.

Q. How did you meet your wife in 2001, and do you want the conditions to stay like this through the week?
PAUL CASEY: Conditions first: No. (Laughter) I thought it was the Sunshine State.

Q. You got enough of freezing two weeks ago.
PAUL CASEY: I was talking to my caddie, Christian, we are ready to start sweating. We want some warm weather this year.
No, I'd rather it was sunny and it blew from the usual direction. I'm sure that would give guys who know this course very well maybe a bit of an advantage over me, but to me it looks like this golf course, and some of the holes I played today are designed to play in the predominant wind. Some holes were very, very difficult with the wind direction.
Jocelyn, my wife, it was actually Fuzzy Zoeller's introduction. It was in the hotel there at the Radisson, and I won't go completely into details, but had dinner that night with -- I think it was Tuesday night with Aaron Baddeley and came back in the hotel, and Jocelyn was sitting there having a drink with Cindy Carter, Jimmy Carter's wife back when Jimmy was on TOUR -- not the president. I don't know, was Jimmy Carter on TOUR? And Fuzzy Zoeller just kind of pulled my name out and sort of pulled me over and introduced me to Jocelyn. That's the simple version.

Q. That was Tuesday of Honda 2001 at Heron Bay?

Q. Was she from down here?
PAUL CASEY: She's from Florida.

Q. How long has it been since you've played here?
PAUL CASEY: I don't know. You'd have to check the records. I've never played here. I think I played a year or two after just before it moved to, was it Mirasol? I never played Mirasol.

Q. Kostis wrote something, a story I alluded to yesterday that they posted on golf.com saying that in addition to this wave of guys entering their prime, from England, and the other Brits, a lot of the Americans are pushing 40 or at 40. You've got Phil and Furyk turned 40 this year. You've also got Ernie and Retief are already 40. Tiger's 34, so obviously not young anymore, which would seemingly make the next five years, maybe you open a window more than, say, five years ago.
PAUL CASEY: How old was last week's champion? Hunter Mahan, how old is Hunter?

Q. 27.
PAUL CASEY: So, you know, all of the guys I played college golf with, you know, sort of, well, the Charles Howells and the Kuchars and Charley Hoffman, I'm trying to think of other names. Those guys are still -- yeah, they are not getting mentioned all the time, but they could blossom. They could fulfill their potential, because those guys have huge potential.
So I don't think just because there's a lot of Englishman or Europeans up there in the World Rankings right now, we need to deliver on that potential.

Q. Who was in the Pac-10 in your years at ASU? Who were the guys when you were playing No. 1 or whatever you were paired with, league tournaments and such?
PAUL CASEY: Pac-10 wasn't necessarily the strongest conference at the time. U of A was Eric Goletzki (ph), Andy Barnes was still there. Sabbatini was at U of A, as well. Nobody really sort of who is -- there's a lot of Sun Devils who were on TOUR that I played with.
We've had a lot through the last three the years, Jeff Quinney, Matt Jones, Chez Reavie; Chin Park, Nationwide, but I played a lot with Bryce Molder, Kuchar, Adam Scott, Jamie Anderson, Charley Hoffman. Oki State was Charles Howell, Bo Van Pelt -- I can't remember. There were a lot of guys. I'm going to say it was 20, 30 guys who I played college golf with who are out on TOUR right now.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Paul, thanks very much. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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