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May 19, 2010

Paul Casey


GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome back to our defending BMW PGA Champion this week, Paul Casey. I would imagine happy memories, although you might not recognise the 18th anymore.
PAUL CASEY: Very happy memories. Yeah, very different golf course as well. Very different Wentworth. Might as well dive straight into that. It's a golf course that I'm not sure that my local knowledge means much anymore around here. I think it's going to be a very difficult challenge. I think the scores are going to be higher.
And something like the 18th is now a very intimidating proposition and I think it will still provide drama, but it may be instead of birdies and eagles down there, the guys will be very happy to walk off with a par on Sunday afternoon.
GORDON SIMPSON: How many times have you played it now?
PAUL CASEY: I played it once.
GORDON SIMPSON: Does it fit your eye, do you think?
PAUL CASEY: I'll answer that one Sunday. I'm not sure yet. You know, I'm being very -- I'm not getting emotional about what I think about the changes. For me this is just like a new venue and I'm trying to figure out a way to get around it in the fewest possible shots.

Q. On the 18th, do you think it's an improvement?
PAUL CASEY: Time will tell. I mean, the big thing for me is that you've taken every time something's been changed around Wentworth, options have been taken away and we now have a golf course now which has to be played through the air. That certainly makes it more difficult. I know there's been a running battle between Richard Caring and Ernie about rough, and Ernie's vision for this golf course, whether you agree with it or not, was that the bunkers were the hazards and if you avoid those, then you can get around this golf, course.
And I know a lot of rough has been grown and I know Ernie has not liked that. Ernie is trying to get the rough chopped back as we speak, and at least then that gives us a few more options. It gives you a way of getting around the golf course if you do avoid the bunkers.
Hopefully they have set down the mowers to a nice, low height. I don't know whether it's going to be an improvement. I think until you get out there and actually play a few rounds of golf on it, you just don't know.

Q. Are you fit and well for this title defence? The last one you didn't even get to the first tee.
PAUL CASEY: No, it was rubbish. I am feeling well. I'm feeling good. We'll see what the golf is like. I struggled a little bit at Sawgrass a couple of weeks ago. I played a fantastic last nine holes of golf and thought I made the cut, and I didn't, until making birdie on 18.
So the last nine, I was very happy with, but you know, struggled a little bit with ball control around there. A couple of shots got away from me. And looking at Wentworth now, you have the same sort of golf course. It's now very penal if you don't drive the ball well or strike the ball well from tee-to-green.
I hope the golf I produce this week is like the golf I played on the last nine holes I played at Sawgrass. But in terms of health I'm 90 per cent.

Q. Are you getting treatment?
PAUL CASEY: Maybe I'm sort of hypersensitive now. I seem to notice a lot more and try to sort of read what my body is telling me in terms of aches and pains. I keep icing the ribs, because they occasionally, I feel if I work out, then sometimes the next day I feel them when I wake up. But there's absolutely nothing as far as I know that is preventing me from hitting the golf ball. And Houston was just a rare thing. It was just a crook neck which is one of those things, absolutely nothing to do with the ribs or previous injuries.
It's just sort of, yeah, it's regular maintenance that you're getting.

Q. Coming back to the course, do you feel that when it comes to such a big event that it's time for the owner of the course to stand back and leave it to people that understand what's going on, or do you feel that because he's paid and put so much money into it, he has a right to have such an influence?
PAUL CASEY: I did suggest to Peter Dawson yesterday -- I saw him in the car park; it wasn't my idea, but I stole it. The idea was that maybe we should introduce some kind of scheme plan along the lines of that which we have with historic buildings in this country. If you own a Grade II listed building, I mean, Ernie's beautiful house as we know on 16 with the thatched roof and the plaster work, he owns it, but that doesn't give him the right to paint it pink and put a tin roof on it.
When you're on owner of a Grade II listed building it's much like you're the caretaker for the next generation. You know, and if you're going to -- if you are the owner of the golf course, it does give you the right to make the changes you want; is that in the best interests of that particular golf course or golf in general. Peter did worry that maybe I was referring to the new tee at 17 at St. Andrews. (Laughter).

Q. Were you?
PAUL CASEY: Haven't seen it yet. (Laughter) It's just that -- sorry, it's a long-winded answer. Maybe if you are an owner, I don't wants to sort of prevent changes from being made. I think we need to keep golf courses in as good of condition as we can, and improvements or changes that are in the best interest, but maybe you need to go through the procedure to make sure these changes are in line. Maybe that's something you have to go through the R&A, whatever it is, I don't know, but along the lines of listing golf courses.

Q. So more specifically, the setup of the course, as a player, if you look at it and say fair enough, but the owner said, we are going to have big bunkers and also have the rough, and you as a top player, say, you shouldn't have them both and you have an owner who is not a tournament director --
PAUL CASEY: It's a difficult one. I don't know but I would imagine it was very difficult as an owner to step back, whoever it is, whether it's the European Tour or any organisation, to watch them come in and take complete control of your golf course. I mean, it's your golf course, you want a say as to how you think it should be set up. I understand that.
As you know, we are all -- all the golfers out here seem to think they are budding architects and/or sort of think we know how we should setup the golf course. I don't really mind how it's setup. I mean, I have my opinions, but does it mean that they are right? No.
I think we just quite like to sort of voice them every now and then. The most important thing is that I get myself ready. We have got a great sponsor this week. We are playing for huge amounts of money, huge amounts of points. You know, when I stand on that first tee on Thursday, that's all that matters and get into a good mind-set for this golf course. I'm reiterating about what I sort of heard Ernie discussing about taking the rough down because he felt the bunkers were the defence of this golf course.

Q. How good of a drive do you have to hit on 18 to go for the green?
PAUL CASEY: You have to hit a very good drive. I think the strategy that I'll have around this golf course has changed slightly. In the past on 18, I had always laid up, 3-wood, 5-wood, whatever that might be, to take those bunkers out of play down the fairway.
And then I always took on the second shot. I always went for the green on 18 if I had a line. That now has changed. I think now I will only go for the green if I've got probably a 5-iron or less in my hand. When I played it the other day, I couldn't hold a 4-iron on the green, and I don't want to be in the back bunkers particularly. So if I've got a 5-iron or less in my hand, that means I've got to now attack the tee shot with a driver. So I'm going to have to be more aggressive.
You can get into a pretty narrow gap down there but that's what I'll have to do, if I hit in the bunkers, I'll have to lay up and try to make birdie with a wedge or sand wedge in my hand. You'll see that a lot now and there are some tee shots out there that I'll be playing a lot shorter club off the tee to take the trouble out of play. 3 might be an example because I know I can't get it out of those bunkers on to the green and 18 I will play very aggressive.
I think I have most of my ideas down on how to get around.

Q. You probably have a greater emotional attachment than most to this place, having come here and watched great champions when you were a kid; when you look at changes and see the memories, is sacrilege too strong a word?
PAUL CASEY: That's too strong a word. You know, as I say, this was Ernie's vision of what he thought a modern West Course should look like, and I'm not -- it's not -- well, I'm entitled to my opinion but I'm not going to blast him or even praise him. I'm just going to sit right on the fence right now and worry about trying to get around this tournament.
I do have an opinion around it, but no, this isn't the time or the place to go into that.

Q. Just on your own chances this week, McDowell said to us yesterday that anybody's past record around here is inconsequential, which is great for him because he's been crappy, but you must have been gutted when you turned up. You and Ross put on such a show last year, did you think --
PAUL CASEY: You're right, we had such a great finish last year. Very happy that I won, but it was thanks to Ross pushing me down the stretch that we had such a great climax to the tournament last year with the birdie, birdie finish and Ross almost making eagle on the last. It was great.
I do have a worry that maybe that type of finish has now been lost. Not to say that it won't be exciting; I think it might be a different type of exciting. It might be a case of mistakes happening down the last couple of holes. That's not what we are used to at Wentworth.
And I think you're right. I don't think past experience or records mean anything now. We are now moving into a new era for the West Course, so we will have to see. Only time will tell as to what type of player it suits. I'm hoping it suits my sort of game, long ball flight, high flight with the irons. That's my initial inkling for myself or McIlroy or whoever. But will it suit Ian Poulter whose short game is phenomenal so when you do miss the greens and you have to get out of the bunkers and get up-and-down; I just don't know yet. I hope it's going to favour me.

Q. How crucial will the role of the caddies be to the changes to the course?
PAUL CASEY: Well, Christian, my caddie, I'm not sure either of us know it very well. You know, I think we have just got to be -- we can't know every single little nuance out there. We just have to be very certain of what we are trying to accomplish with the golf ball and pick fairly conservative areas and times to go for it. He's always got a big role to play, but I think I have to be the one -- I think he can really help me and build some confidence into what I'm trying to do with the golf ball. Ultimately I'm the one that has to stand there and hit the shot.

Q. Ian was just in here a minute ago saying about the first time in the Tiger era, he feels like the world No. 1 spot is up for grabs this summer for anybody in the world Top-10 putting together two or three months of good play. Would that be your view, as well?
PAUL CASEY: I would have to say based on performances we've seen from Tiger in the last couple of outings, yeah, I agree. You know, if Phil continues to put in performances like he puts in at Augusta and Westy puts in performances like we have seen for the last six months when Westy has been playing good golf, both guys are in with a shot; and that's if Tiger continues to do what he did. Quite surprised about Quail Hollow and PLAYERS Championship, and I don't know what's going on there or why.
Then I think, yeah, I don't know the calculations, either.

Q. He was talking about the whole of the Top-10. Do you think that's a bit of a stretch?
PAUL CASEY: I would see for the top 5 maybe. Maybe I'm too far back. But if I have a good run and play some good stuff, then maybe I should reassess that.
That would mean getting ahead of Phil and Westy and those guys. I don't see them playing poor golf over the summer. But then again, I don't know the calculations. I would like to -- hopefully I'm in a position where you're asking me that same question at St. Andrews where you've got a possibility; that would be great.

Q. Football teams count the crowd as a 12th man almost. Do you think that here that is one thing that will be in your favour this week; that you will have that support?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I think I always get good support around here. From a crowd point of view, I'm intrigued as to how they are going to see some of these greens, what they are going to think of this and make of this and how this golf course has changed. But there are many players around here this week who have great crowd support; Ross Fisher, of course, Ernie and a lot of the guys who are U.K.-based, but you know, aren't back that often. Even somebody like Poulter, Woburn is not that far away .
I don't think I can firmly say that I'm going to get the best support this week and that that's a huge advantage.

Q. What's your favourite memory from winning the tournament last year?
PAUL CASEY: My favourite memory is obviously the putt going in on the last, and we all know the past few years, the fun bounces you can sometimes get on spring greens at Wentworth. And having missed a couple of putts on Saturday on 17 and 18, after hitting actually pretty good putts that just didn't go in, I was very happy to see that ball say is that true on 18 in the final round and go right in the middle.
But looking back, the one shot that really sort of kick started my round was the bunker shot on 3, hit to about a foot or so. I didn't think I would get anywhere near, so I surprised myself with that shot. That was probably the finest shot hit that day.

Q. How many yards was that?
PAUL CASEY: It was about -- it was like a 9-iron from about 165 or something.

Q. What did you do by way of celebration?
PAUL CASEY: Celebration, went to the Good Earth and had crispy duck. (Laughter).

Q. What score would you take this week, now?
PAUL CASEY: I don't know. What was the winning score last year?

Q. 17.
PAUL CASEY: Well, I'll take that again, yeah. I've got to think -- I don't know. I think anything in double digits right now I would probably take but I don't know. That might be -- I would hate to be short by a couple. I will take 12-under (laughter).
GORDON SIMPSON: Let's see if we are having this conversation on Sunday then, Paul.

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