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March 9, 2010

Paul Casey


PAUL SYMES: Strong performance last week; you come in pretty good form.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it kind I said to Mark Garrod it was quite nice last week, a backdoor Top-5 finish, a very tough golf course last week, one that I had not played before, and didn't actually -- didn't hit the ball how I wanted to hit it, but I did a fantastic job of managing my game and having a good attitude.
Once again, it was sort of, the form plods along and very, very happy with it.
PAUL SYMES: A big week, the WGC, you've come close twice now; do you think you're due?
PAUL CASEY: It's not a case of being due. There's lots of guys out here who are due a win, but we have a great field once again. It's a golf course I've not necessarily played my best golf on. Can be very, very tough out there. I know the rough is down from what I've seen of it so far this week. So it will still be very playable, even if the wind does pick up.
For me, it's doing what I did last week, and giving myself an opportunity, and if I've got an opportunity on Sunday, I'll be very, very happy but there's a long way to go.
PAUL SYMES: The rib injury you suffered last year, is that completely cured now, or you just learning to cope with it?
PAUL CASEY: I'm not 100 percent. It still gets a little tired. But the golf that I played at the Match Play was as good a test as any and I got through that, a very long week, and it did very well. It got a little tired. The problems I get is still flexibility with the rest of the body, mainly the back, so it tightened up to protect the ribs the front.
But I don't feel it's hindering my golf, it's just an effect that I feel later on the next evening or the next day. I'm not going to worry about it, so you know, I'm still slightly protective of it because in theory, it's something I could still reinjure, but I'm enjoying the golf and enjoying that I'm back out here playing. So it's been a much better start to the season than I expected.

Q. With the Ryder Cup not too far away, something that's not too far away in your mind --
PAUL CASEY: October (laughter) it's nice to actually be sort of popping up on the list. You know, I had pretty much zero points starting this year, so I have made a very good start to the season but there's a long way to go with sort of the four majors left and WGC events such as this one. There will be lots of movement out there.
It's something I really want to be a part of but I'm not going to get caught up worrying about it every single week. If I worry about each event as it comes and trying to win, then that's what I want to do; and the qualification will take care of itself.

Q. You must be delighted the way you're playing and where you're ranked in the world after last year; do you think it was going to be a little more difficult?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I did. I'm very nicely surprised that I'm close to winning an event. I had a bunch of Top-10s, World Ranking points; yeah, certainly exceeded my expectations for the beginning half of the year. I feel -- for example, last week, I didn't hit the ball particularly well. But I did a great job with the rest of the game, and I finished fourth, which was fantastic. That's the sort of thing I was doing last year before I was injured. So, I'm very, very happy with that. I think a little bit of it is sort of expectations.
I think my expectations are a little bit higher. Putting pressure on myself every week to perform; you know, I'm sixth in the world and I feel that -- I've always felt a little bit of -- I always put a lot of pressure on myself, so I should perform. That's what I'm meant to do.
So, maybe that's just a slight difference, and from a couple of years ago, maybe an event like last week, I would have slipped back and finished 20th or 30th or wherever and let it go a little bit. Maybe that's the difference. That's why I've maybe bounced back as quick as I have.

Q. Is that good mental training that you take positives out of a week where you don't feel you've hit it very well, but the finish is good?
PAUL CASEY: Explain, what do you mean by "good mental training?"

Q. That you take positives out of not playing that great?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I think so. I always look to the positives. I'm a half-full guy, rather than half-empty.
I have to take something positive out of it, because if you'd seen some of the places I'd hit it (laughing). It was -- yeah, for me, you know, as you know, I've gone through sort of up-and-downs in the last nine years or whatever it's been out here.
And I've always -- it's always about when I try to sort of claw my way back, it's always about small little victories, so it might be something as simple as making a couple of extra putts or working on a particular shot and feeling happy that I've made a little bit of gain. Every day, I'm trying to make a little bit of a gain or improve something in my game, which is going to make me a better player. It may not be reflective in the score or the result, but you know, I feel if I'm doing something and I'm getting better, that's the key.
So, last week, yeah, it wasn't that the result was great, but it was a case of I did lots of stuff very, very well that probably even though I felt like I was hitting it everywhere, I was actually very happy with you know, 90 percent of what I did.

Q. Being sixth in the world, how you look at that, what comes to your mind when you see you and Ian up there?
PAUL CASEY: What goes through my mind is sitting in the press rooms eight years ago when we had two Englishman in the Top-100 and getting asked the questions, what's going on with English golf.
It's funny how that sort of happened, it seems very quick but it's been quite a long time. Now everybody is saying, "Well, why are there so many Englishmen in the Top-10 or Top-100?" I don't really have an answer for it. But I'm quite enjoying it.
It's a bit of a race right now. I think a big sort of challenge is each one of us want to win a major, and who is going to be the first guy to do it. So, it feels like there's a little bit of a race going on. It's a nice sort of warm -- a little bit sort of cozy feeling with that many sort of friends of mine up in the World Rankings.
But it shouldn't be confused with kind of a complacency or a sort of relaxed sort of atmosphere. I think everybody is pushing each other very, very hard, and when Westy is winning The Race to Dubai, we're all friends and congratulate him, but we want to win it this year. When Poulter wins the Match Play, we want to be the guy who is the next Englishman to win another PGA TOUR event.
So I think it's helped pushing each other along. It's good fun. I think all of the guys up there are proving to everybody else out in the world how many good players there are. When you think of how many good Englishmen there have been, potential is one thing, but these guys are starting to fulfill it and show everybody we have a lot of great players.

Q. Do you have in inkling, is there an explanation or a coincidence of talent coming together in the same generations, or is there a change to the way people have organized their careers that are giving them a better chance?
PAUL CASEY: I just think it's -- my take on it is, it's the result of the great European golf that I was watching when I was a kid back in the 80s and early 90s. Faldo, Seve, Woosnam, Langer, Lyle, Monty, Olazábal was quite young but he was sort of part of that movement. Those are the guys that were my golfing heros. I was not old enough to see Nicklaus and Watson, Player, Palmer, these guys. Just sort of missed out on that.
But those Europeans to me, they got me interested in the game. That was when why I loved to watch and I got to see them live. I think if you asked these other Englishman, Brits and Europeans who have now risen among us in the World Rankings, that was the reason what got them hooked.
And it's just taken, however long it's been, 20 years or so, for us to sort of hone our skills, and again, overnight success always takes ten years, 20 years.

Q. Last week you had to deal with the Bear Trap, this week you get the 18th hole, it ranks as the second-oldest hole on TOUR; what goes through your brain when you're playing that hole?
PAUL CASEY: For me, well, I'm not sure what goes through my brain when I play that hole. Picking a smaller target is possible off the tee, reading the conditions. It's all about where the wind blows off the tee for the tee shot. It seems like the last couple of years it's either been straight into us or off the left, which makes it exceedingly difficult because if you can't carry the trouble on the left side, it's a very narrow area to land it to hit it into if you want to reach that green in two.
You'll see a lot of guys bail out right and that's obviously the play is to miss it, but it's almost impossible when you hit the green in two if you're in the rough around the trees or down the first fairway.
I've played that hole downwind and it's fairly -- it's actually quite enjoyable downwind. It's good fun. Everybody can carry the corner and end up flicking wedge in. It's all about the elements around here. So you know, unlike the Bear Trap last week where you can -- depending on -- it didn't really matter where the wind blew last week for those last four holes. They were difficult. 17, for example, was just as difficult downwind as it was into the wind. This is a different case this week.
If 18 goes downwind, I think you'll see 3s, lots of 4s, and if it goes the other way, you'll see all sorts of numbers. So it is very dependent on wind direction this week.
But, in my experience, no matter how many times I've played it, I've played it before this was a World Golf event, this tournament, I would very rarely see it downwind. I don't think it plays on guys' minds during the round, but it certainly holds up guys who get defensive and 4 is a good score.

Q. You mentioned a few times that you have not played especially well here or gotten results here; is it something about the course and the way it matches up with your game or circumstances that you have not played your best during this particular event in previous years?
PAUL CASEY: I mean, I don't play a lot of golf on Florida courses. I will admit, I have struggled slightly with the setup, mainly short game, around these golf courses, sort of bermudagrass and the way the golf ball comes out. Putting, especially. Even last week, I've been a guy who has maybe got the shaft of the putter slightly forward-pressed. Delofted the putter slightly, and that's the kiss of death around here, the golf ball skirts off in all sorts of directions instead of getting the ball on top of the bermuda and rolling nicely.
You know, my technique is not perfect. I need to work on it, and I found it very difficult to score. Having said that, that's not much of an excuse. You know, it's something I need to work on.
So, you know, last week, a very difficult golf course, same grasses imagine, finished tied 4th. I've clearly got the ability to get around a Florida golf course. You know, this is one I know very well; I've played it enough times now. The thing I like is we have got par 5s we can reach. Last week was difficult, I only went for the 18th green once last week and that was the final round with the tee up and the wind was slightly different.
This week, you are given opportunity to score. I've always been a guy who makes lots of birdies. If I keep those mistakes off the card and scramble when I need to, there's no reason why I can't score well.

Q. Without the world No. 1, we have a 68-strong field and there could be 68 possible winners --
PAUL CASEY: Rephrase that again?

Q. Do you limit the number of winners of this, or do you think anybody in this field is capable of winning?
PAUL CASEY: No, I think probably anybody is capable of winning this week. Everybody is here because they have qualified. It means they are a world-class player. Some clearly had better runs than others. But no, I think anybody in this field could pop up and win this.

Q. You wouldn't say that in other sports, would you, if you gathered the 68 Top-10 players, you choose four or five, pretty sure one of them would win?
PAUL CASEY: I looked at it last week, and I don't spend any time thinking this way, but this golf course, Florida golf course, you could go through and I could probably give you -- I could probably rule out half the guys and pick ten favorites. But I still don't think it really matters. No, I don't think it's like any other -- no, you're right, it's not like tennis, it's nothing like that.
You know, I think the level of golf is way better than it was ten years ago, but it's still a bit of a lottery. You know, how guys -- you just don't know how guys are feeling or playing and how they like this golf course. So I think anybody whose game is good can win this week.

Q. You mentioned earlier some of The European Tour guys who came before you; what are your earliest memories? What do you think of when Seve comes up?
PAUL CASEY: First thing is when I got a chance to play with him at Tenerife, I can't remember what tournament -- a European Tour event we were playing in Tenerife, the only time I've ever played with him. He hit it about 30 or 40 yards left of the first green with his second shot, and the ball was actually sitting on a stone wall and he got up-and-down from a stone wall. (Laughter) that's all I wanted to see. I wanted to see something like that and I saw it on the very first hole. We tied and walked in. I had seen enough. It was fantastic.
I remember each one of those European sort of great golfers for different reasons. For Seve, it was the passion, it was the sort of spirit he played it in. And the recovery shots, more often than not, the memories are the shots he hit out of trouble, difficult situations, especially around places like Wentworth. I remember seeing sort of great 2-irons out of the trees on the 12th, right of 17, right of 15; a common thing going there. (Laughter).
I don't remember the pure shots he hit from the middle of the fairway, even though I'm sure they were fantastic. It was that "anything's possible" attitude, and usually he pulled the shots off. I got to see it live and I feel very, very lucky that I got to see it in person.

Q. Do you know how old you were or what year that was?
PAUL CASEY: When I played with him? I'd have to check probably The European Tour Web site. I'm going to say I had been on Tour probably two or three years. Sorry, I don't know. Probably like a 2003 or something like that. I've only played in Tenerife once. You'll have to go through and check it out.

Q. Miami is such an event town, without the world No. 1, a certain guy missing, have you noticed galleries in general, or how do you expect the galleries here when it's such an event town and people are so driven by star power?
PAUL CASEY: Well, reading the news reports, a recording to the TOUR Web site, the GOLF CHANNEL Web site last night, Honda Classic figures were up from Pro-Am day to Sunday.
I've not played that event before but we had great crowds. There was a buzz out there. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that we had a Florida guy leading, Camilo, you know, a character, great player. He brought a lot of people out.
I think the same will happen this week. I'm sure we'll see a lot of Colombian flags waved and being waved around the golf course this week.
I don't feel that in the events I've played so far this year, I haven't felt a significant difference in atmosphere and numbers. You know, I've read both. They have gone both ways, last week, big crowd. I read the TV figures had been down, but I still feel a buzz at golf events when I go, and I think there will be a buzz this week. Crowds in this town have always been great, very energetic. So this event's been around for such a long time, they are knowledgeable. They know where the trouble is at this golf course.
You know, I don't expect anything different this year because we don't have Tiger Woods in the field.

Q. If I may follow-up, do you think it's given guys to jump up and grab a little bit of the spotlight that they haven't been able to because people focus so much?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, sure. Yes. (Laughter) Sorry. I don't know how to answer that one.

Q. Along those same lines, how do you think he will be received by the galleries when he does come back? It seems like Bay Hill might be around the corner now.
PAUL CASEY: I have no idea. I don't know. It's going to be -- you know, I know as much as you guys do. Only because I read it from you guys. (Laughter).
I don't know what's going to happen, how the reaction will be. You know, golf is here. Golf will always be here, waiting. So we will see what happens when he does return.

Q. Would you like to be paired with him when he does?
PAUL CASEY: Hmmm. Well, I always like being paired with Tiger. Yeah, first tournament out would be -- you know, playing with Tiger, I've always found it been great fun. He's a gentleman to play with. I've always enjoyed playing with the best players in the world, and especially the No. 1 player in the world. There's always a lot of extra sort of distraction out there.
But yeah, this time around could be even more so. So, you know, got to say yes, I mean, could be interesting, though. The sort of scrutiny will be on a level that I'm probably -- probably something we've never witnessed before. But they won't be watching me. (Laughter).

Q. Depends what you do. The scenario that you're on the first tee with Tiger and things are going a little crazy, how do you get yourself into your own zone? And what do you say to him on the tee? Welcome back?
PAUL CASEY: What do I say to Tiger?

Q. Yeah?
PAUL CASEY: Nike 1, blue dot. I don't know, what do you say? Worry about my own game.
PAUL SYMES: Thanks again for coming, Paul.

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