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February 21, 2011

Paul Casey


PAUL SYMES: Welcome to the Accenture Match Play Championship. You've done pretty well here.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, good to be back. I'm excited to get started this week. I actually haven't even looked at the draw yet, but it's Richard Green I've got tomorrow, is that right?
PAUL SYMES: Correct.
PAUL CASEY: You know, the usual, who knows, one match at a time, try to play some brilliant golf. Really repeat what I've done up until the final the last couple of years and then see if we can go one better.
PAUL SYMES: Do you come here with patience, Paul? You came in 12th last week at the Northern Trust Open.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, it was a good first outing in the States. I didn't play brilliant golf. I did a very good job of managing myself and maximizing the way I played last week. I made quite a few mistakes, especially on Saturday, struggled a little bit on Saturday. But surprised the way I moved up the leaderboard yesterday.
I thought the golf course was very receptive and didn't think 3-under would move me up quite as far as it did, but 12th wasn't bad in the end and it wasn't a bad first outing for my start on the PGA tour this year.
PAUL SYMES: I understand you had a slight neck problem, has that cleared up now?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I don't know what I did. I think traveling back from the Middle East, the week between Qatar and LA, I think just a lot of travel, probably dehydration, and played golf with some friends on Friday and couldn't move on Saturday. It was my own fault.
I got it fixed, got it adjusted and rested it as much as I could, and by Wednesday it was absolutely fine.

Q. With Wentworth as well as the two finals you've been in, what is it about match play that turns you on?
PAUL CASEY: I think, you know, I've always been a player who's been fairly aggressive on the golf course, makes a lot of birdies and then occasionally will throw in the odd mistake. I did that even last week. I made a triple bogey on No. 10 on Saturday, got it stuck in a palm tree. You cannot get away with that. You take off 3 shots off my score, last week, it puts me in the top-5.
In match play that's not quite as penal. You maybe lose the hole, but it's -- it doesn't, you know, kill your chance of maybe winning the tournament. So I think I can get away with the mistakes I can occasionally make on the golf course more in match play.
I also think I've had a very good approach mentally to playing match play. I like to keep -- I always feel if you keep the ball in play, and you're very consistent and you put a lot of pressure on the other guy that's very difficult to play against. I tend to play the golf course not the player. But, you know, by doing that and making lots of birdies and being aggressive and knowing what you've got to do on putts, I seem to make a lot of putts. And it's actually an attitude that I've been trying to carry over to a lot of stroke play, the attitude I've had in match play.

Q. People always say that it's such a different deal, match play, you can play great and you can lose. Or you can play terribly or not very well at all and still win. Can you think of an example of that from your own experiences either here or in another match play event where you've kind of -- it's been the opposite result of what you would have expected?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I'm trying to -- I can think of ones where -- I'm trying to think of an example, and I'm not doing a very good job where I've played poorly and gotten away with it. I also know I've had matches, you know -- I read Robert Karlsson gets a bit of a bad rap for sort of not having made it very far in this tournament, but Robert is a brilliant match play player. I know one year I played here, and actually I want to say it's not on the Ritz-Carlton golf course, but the other one we played just over there, I think he started off with, you know, a flurry of birdies, and was probably sort of 5-under or 6-under through 9 holes and he was down to me. And Robert played a brilliant round of golf and ended up losing and you scratch your head. And you actually go through, and I've done it a couple of times, you compare score cards, if Robert had played anybody else that day, that's ifs, ands and buts again, but he would have won most matches. But there's a lot of luck involved.
I know I made mistakes against Ross Fisher I think when I played him in quarter finals. I got lucky on a couple of holes where Ross made mistakes and let me get away it. It is what it is, you need a little bit of luck in this thing. I'm fully aware of that and I think I've had some pretty good luck the last couple of years.

Q. Your good years generally follow when you win early in the season, obviously it does something for you psychologically, does it remove a burden?
PAUL CASEY: I'm not sure if it removes a burden, I think it probably just gives me a little boost in confidence. You're right, I mean looking back -- last year was frustrating, because it was coming back off the injury, but '09, I turned that early victory in Abu Dhabi to a very good sprint before the injury.
I've not really analyzed it too much, Derek. Maybe it's just sort of a momentum thing. Costas has always said winning is a habit, if you can sort of -- it's a good habit to be into. It's just nice that the hard work I've put in in the off-season is already paying off. So maybe there's a little bit of relief that things are already clicking. I'm not sure it's that much of a burden relieved.

Q. I have a two part question for you regarding a couple of par-3s. The 6th hole is sort of wedged in between a couple of pretty tough par-4s. What's your strategy, is it sort of a relief between those two holes, and how do you approach that? And then I have a follow-up.
PAUL CASEY: 6th hole, you know, with that green complex and the big bunker -- you've got lots of danger around that thing, you have about three places I don't want to go. And really middle of the green is going to give you a fairly good putt to every pin position.
The first place you can't go is right, because you're going to lose the hole if you miss the green right down into the wash.
If you miss the green in the bunker, you will probably still lose the hole, because it's a very difficult up and down, especially to a front pin.
If you miss the green left you can get away with it. But I think that's just a hole -- stick it in the middle of the green, and that's going to put the pressure on your opponent.
And the greens are so good here, even with -- even if you do miss sort of the wrong level, even if you don't get to the back level, if it's a back pin, you still have an opportunity to make that putt.
Just play slightly left of the pin. If the pin is on the right-hand side. If it's on left go straight at it, you want to have a club that gets you over the bunker and in the center of the green.

Q. A question about the 12th hole, in between a couple of par-5s on the back. How do you approach that and what's your strategy into the mix?
PAUL CASEY: That's a little -- this was a tricky hole, you've got such an elevation change there, playing down the mountain that, myself included, but most players find it very difficult to pick a club on that hole. We're at three thousand feet. The wind seems to have a huge effect in the desert, even a slight breeze. It looks like there's lots of trouble around that green, but you can get away with missing it. You've seen a lot of guys have big -- would be very surprised where their shot finishes, you see some guys ten feet short over the green, and some guys in the grandstand over the back, it's just extremely difficult to judge the elements and how far the golf ball is going to fly.
I like to try to hold it up against the wind if you can, hook it into it, cut it into it, whatever, just to make it to that green. But that's another one, no heroes for going to the flag. Difficult, undulating green, something in the center of the green is going to put -- just like the 6th, it's going to put the pressure on the opponent check.

Q. Europe had quite a year last year in this event. And obviously the World Rankings are full of the top -- the top of the World Rankings are full of Europeans. As a player, will you follow the event that way or keep track of the event that way at all or is it just all the same to you?
PAUL CASEY: No, it's -- no, I'm just trying to get ready to play good golf on Wednesday and then once I've done that, hopefully won my match and then try to figure out what to do next. And I don't tend to look at the results. There are always upsets in this thing. It's volatile, highly unpredictable. I tend not to watch it.

Q. Following up on that, with the Europeans rise in the World Rankings, how much of that may be the Europeans pushing each other, being familiar with each other and maybe wanting to one-up each other?
PAUL CASEY: I think there's a little bit of that. I think obviously the numbers we've got out there right now is down to those great players from I guess we're looking at -- I don't know how many years ago, the Lyles, Langers, Seve, Faldo, all those guys, that's why myself and Poulter and the rest of the guys -- how many guys you're seeing coming through now, I think it's down to those great European players, and us wanting to emulate what they did.
I think there's certainly an element of everybody trying to beat each other out, yeah, push each other along. But it's done in a very sort of nice -- there's a nice rivalry going on. We want to win in Majors, but we're looking at the guys who have won Majors and trying to figure out, you know, why has he won that major. He's worked a little bit harder, I need to work as hard as this guy has at his short game and that's why he's gotten the victory he wanted. Or whatever the reason might be. There's a lot of that going on. Yeah, we're highly competitive, but so far it's all stayed fairly friendly.

Q. Just another question about the rankings. The media will debate the worthiness of the rankings, but you don't really hear players complaining much about it, is it pretty much accepted that the rankings -- that they work, that they're legitimate, that they work?
PAUL CASEY: You're right, I don't hear the players discussing it or complaining about it or suggesting ways to improve it. We all accept that it would be extremely difficult to become World No. 1 in six months and that's the way the rankings seem to work, it takes a lot longer to do that. It also takes a long time to drop out of the sort of a certain portion, drop out of Top 10 or Top 50, and I think that's only right, as well.
Could they be tweaked and could they be improved? I'm sure, I'm not a mathematician, so I couldn't offer a way of improving them. But, yeah, I think the players are all pretty happy with where guys are placed in the World Rankings currently. Everybody is going to have their opinions on it, but I seem to think that they seem to work right now.

Q. Just going back to the competition between the Europeans, we were talking to Padraig Harrington earlier this year about the young ones that might come through this year, and he was pointing out there are the older young ones that maybe we had forgotten about like yourself and Luke Donald. I'm just wondering, did the wins by Martin Kaymer and Graeme last year have any kind of effect on you at all, did they make you any more determined to do well?
PAUL CASEY: I think I'm fully aware that I'm probably I'm now in my prime of my -- sort of peak, shall we say, of major winning sort of golf, should we say. I'm 33. I'm mean if you look at statistically guys from sort of 33 to whatever it is, 36 or 39 or pick a number, I don't know, that's really when guys tend to play their best golf. So Martin and Graeme's victory have highlighted that I need to hurry up. I don't have that long, you know, if I want to take full advantage of my best golf.
I'd like to think that, you know, things like the injury and stuff like that have taken sort of a good year out of some of that. So maybe I can class myself as being 32 as a golfer, give myself an extra year.
The motivation for me is already there. Their victories -- I'm not sure they've added much more to the fire, because it's already stoked pretty high.

Q. I have another question about match play. Would you like to see a Major in the match play format?
PAUL CASEY: Was the PGA match play format?

Q. Yes.
PAUL CASEY: I don't see why not. I'd rather see -- well, yeah, I don't see why not. How would you do it? 18 holes is very much a sprint. 36 sometimes seems too long.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, maybe, I don't know. Come up with a suggestion and I'll see if it's a good one. I mean never say never. If we've gone from US PGA being match play to now being stroke play, so, you know, it's changed through time. Why couldn't we eventually have a match play tournament? I think we could. I'm not sure how I would do it, how I would want it to be played, some kind of stroke play qualifying in the match play as a conclusion. It would be fun. Hopefully happens before I hang up my clubs.

Q. As someone who's been quite successful in match play and enjoys it and kind of understands the dynamics of it, can you talk a little bit about there's sort of this "one and done" possibility when you go to a match play event. But there's also in an individual match a sort of inevitability that creeps up as you get closer to the end of the match and say you're 1-down and all of a sudden the guy gets another hole on you.
Can you talk a little bit about what you do to maintain your presence to keep doing what you've been doing and not panic as the finish line draws closer?
PAUL CASEY: For me it's -- you know, there's a game plan, I have a game plan of how to get around this golf course. And it's something I don't flinch from, I don't change that. There are certain holes you can be incredibly aggressive on, there are certain holes you just have to be sensible, even if you're down and you've literally got one or two holes to go I think you just have to keep giving yourself opportunities to make birdies.
If you're going to force something, maybe try and force a putt, you try to get a bit more aggressive with a putt. I think this golf course would bite you if you try and -- you're not going to -- put it this way, you're not going to win a hole with a tee shot, I don't care how good it is. So you just have to stay in your routine and stay with your game plan and hope that you make the birdie putt and you never wish anything bad on your opponent, but maybe they make a mistake and that's all you can do. Everybody out here is so good that there's nothing else you can do apart from playing your own ball and hope for the best.

Q. As you know, I am a bit more of a mathematician.
PAUL CASEY: Yes, you are.

Q. In terms of the World Rankings, anything that I suppose in theory that could be tweaked, but what about factoring in margin of victory, like Martin had an 8 shot victory in Abu Dhabi, do you think that should get a bit of a boost in comparison to say winning a tournament today?
PAUL CASEY: I never thought about it. It's interesting. Does it happen in other sports? So if somebody wins a Grand Prix by two laps, do they get more points?

Q. (Inaudible.)
PAUL CASEY: I don't know of any other sport where the margin of victory gives you more.

Q. Yeah, they do actually in rugby, if you score a certain number of (inaudible) --
PAUL CASEY: Well, I think the only thing I would -- have discussed tweaking or discussed if I was to tweak the World Rankings, how would I do it. And the only thing would be your divisor. There has been talk about guys being penalized for playing a lot of golf. And I think I'm not that familiar with the U.S. handicapping system, but it's along the lines of you take -- you play X number rounds of golf, but you take a certain number, your best rounds, and you chuck out a certain number of rounds. But basically you're judged on say your best 20 tournaments or something like that. And if you had that sort of a system I think the rankings would be very similar to what they are. But you get guys who play an awful lot of guys, like a Jeev Mikha Singh or Vijay Singh --

Q. (Inaudible.)
PAUL CASEY: They have, yeah. But I think maybe you could -- even that you could crank it down a little bit more. That would be something that would be interesting, chucking out your sort of -- your bad tournaments. And just judging guys on maybe the 20 best tournaments each year or something like that. In terms of margin for victory, I'm not sure. I've never thought about it.

Q. Just talking to some of the other players like Padraig and Thomas Bjorn, they know not only who they're playing on Wednesday, but every player in their bracket. You seem to take a different approach to you mentioned, am I playing Richard Green. It there a reason for that and how hard is it not to look further ahead?
PAUL CASEY: I've never looked ahead. I've never looked at the brackets, I don't like to get sucked into thinking I've got a difficult bracket, I've got an easy bracket. I know every match out here is extremely difficult. Every opponent is dangerous. I don't think there's any reason to weighs energy thinking -- either getting excited about who I might have in this -- I might have Richard, or I might have so and so, or I might have so and so in quarter finals. That's so far in the future. All my energy has to go into --

Q. Is it hard, it's a natural human thing, isn't it, to --
PAUL CASEY: I don't know. I don't find it that hard. I only found out -- I only found out I was playing Richard Green this morning when somebody told me.

Q. You have no idea who comes after him?
PAUL CASEY: I have no idea. I don't know what bracket I'm in.
PAUL SYMES: Either Jason Day or Kyung-tae Kim.
PAUL CASEY: No, I just don't -- I don't get sucked into it. I find it fairly easy to not worry about it. As I said, I don't think there's any point in really worrying about it. I'll expend energy thinking about it hopefully when I get there.

Q. On a really positive note, two finals in two years is very good. But did you feel the runner-up as a defeat or did you think mainly positive thoughts?
PAUL CASEY: I try to take the positive out of it. You know, it's, as I said, I think one of the keys to playing good match play golf is to eliminate mistakes, and both Geoff and Ian were very good at doing that. They really didn't do much, if anything, wrong. And, you know, when you get anybody in this field doing that, if you've got to sort of try and do something extra special to beat a guy, which, you know, every player again in this field is capable of playing some spectacular golf and shooting 9, 10-under or whatever it is around this golf course. But trying to muster that up when it's not going the way you want it to is extremely difficult. So, you know, I was a bit frustrated at not playing the golf I wanted to play. But it's match play. I know that. I've had a good run here. When it was at LaCosta I never made it past the first round. I like to think I can get myself into position to win this thing again. I got outplayed on both those finals.
PAUL SYMES: Thank you, Paul.

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