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June 30, 2013

Paul Casey


SCOTT CROCKETT:  Many congratulations, a fantastic success, you've spoken a lot to TV and described this as a world‑class tournament and this was a world‑class finish, you must be delighted.
PAUL CASEY:  I'm absolutely thrilled.  Always wanted a grandstand finish; got one.  Never holed a putt like that to win a tournament.  I feel over the moon.
I don't think I quite realised the list of names who have won The Irish Open until I was presented this a little bit earlier.  But I've always held golf in Ireland in a special place in my heart, and it is at the highest level; the Irish fans are the best.  I've always felt so at home here, so winning today is like a home victory.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Did you have a target in mind when you set off?
PAUL CASEY:  Yeah, 15‑under was the goal, but I said that to Tim Barter on the range, and I didn't quite appreciate how windy it was out on the golf course once you get on the other side of the property.  Although I still thought that with the firepower right behind me that somebody was going to shoot a really great round of golf.
When the birdies started to go in around the turn, you know, things got shifting along, but it wasn't really until we turned and headed for home that quite appreciated how windy it was.  Even though I made a couple of mistakes, I thought deep down, everybody is going to face that and everybody is going to have a moment today where they have a bad hole, so I kept plugging away.  I had no idea my handing in the event.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  You say your focus is very good, you didn't look at leaderboards and you focused and concentrated on what you had to do.
PAUL CASEY:  I tried not to.  I caught a glimpse of one or two but I saw my fuzzy name at the top on the corner of my eye, not really focusing on it.  I saw Larrazábal at 9‑under when I was on the 15th hole out of the corner of my eye, that's all I saw, and I didn't want to see anything else.
I just assumed the guys were right behind me, level, ahead of me; I didn't know.  I just knew I had to focus on one shot at a time.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  As you say, the finish was spectacular but in many ways it was the section around the turn, those six holes, just talk us through those.
PAUL CASEY:  Yeah, I had not really made anything before that, although I hit some nice shots and not capitalised and when I had made a couple of errors like on the first and the second, I recovered very nicely.
The 8th, the par5, I hit a wonderful tee shot and second shot, left myself about 65 yards.  Played that 1‑up to tap‑in, two feet.
No.9, 3‑wood, left about 80‑plus yards, lob‑wedge into eight feet or so, which was a tricky putt with left‑to‑right wind.
No. 10, driver, long and down the left, pitching wedge, about 12 feet behind the hole; again, another left‑to‑righter.
11, got a great tee shot away and a 9‑iron on the green to 12 feet; that was right‑to‑left.
Par on 12.
13, I'd liked that hole all week.  The wind didn't hit the ball and the ball strayed right of the green but I was so far, I was past the bunker and past the danger and I chipped that one to a tap‑in.
18, the only place I couldn't hit it was in that first bunker on the left, the short bunker on the left off the tee.  And I had not watched Rocky's tee shot.  I know he turned away and didn't like it.  My play was to knock it down the middle‑‑ actually down the right side of the fairway.  I hit it just very, very hard.  I didn't put enough draw on it which is why the wind carried it so far to the right but I thought that was the best side to miss it because I knew the angle.  You couldn't reach the hazard off the tee unless you completely missed it.
I was pretty comfortable that I was going to be in a good spot, and I was ecstatic when I got up there and saw I could actually get a 3‑iron behind it, so just over 200 to the front, 20 to 30 to the flag.  It was a perfect place to be and I hit a fantastic shot.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Length of putt?
PAUL CASEY:  20 yards.

Q.  What did it mean to you to win again after the struggles you've had after the last couple of years, and do you think now this could kick you on to win things pretty quickly?
PAUL CASEY:  Second part, yes.  Psychologically, I think this is huge.  This is almost like‑‑ it feels like a first win again, that kind of feeling.
I have struggled with the confidence, and this is a huge relief, knowing that I'm moving in the right direction; that I've got great golf left in me for another ten‑plus years.  This is a massive confidence‑boost.

Q.  Was there ever a moment after your accident when you actually feared for your career?
PAUL CASEY:  Yes.  Yeah, it's difficult to put sort of a moment, but just a period where really struggled with getting the shoulder back to where I wanted it.
You know, in hindsight, did I come back too early?  Probably, because the swing changed, trying to protect the shoulder, which led to a knock‑on snowball into losing confidence, because the swing had changed and not hitting the shots I wanted to hit.
Yeah, there was a time‑‑ I said to somebody this week, when you're playing great golf, you have no idea how you ever played bad golf.  And when you play bad golf, you've got no clue how you ever played good golf.  I mean, looking at some of my mates, hitting great golf shots, and I'm thinking to myself, I don't quite‑‑ I can't see myself doing that right now, and I don't have the confidence to do that, and that eats you.  That really hurts, quite a painful place to be.

Q.  There's been lots of messages of congratulations on Twitter, and one of the first was from your coach, Peter Kostis; he's suffering from health problems himself at the minute.  Can you just speak about limb and his influence?
PAUL CASEY:  Yeah, he's recovering.  He's actually going through chemo for colon cancer right now.  Got a Formula I bet with him, so hopefully the drivers I picked are beating him‑‑ he may be a little bit sick but I still want to beat him‑‑ it was carnage, was it?
He's like my‑‑ he's sort of my adopted‑‑ I'm his adopted son.  He's my other dad.  He is not just my swing coach or coach for the game of golf.  He's my sort of life coach, as well.  He has been a massive part of sort of my comeback; and I always think he never stopped believing in me, and for that I can't thank him enough.
I think I'm very lucky to have him as a coach and as a friend.

Q.  You said earlier in the week that Justin Rose's victory in the U.S. Open was a bit of an inspiration for you.  It seems to have worked very quickly.
PAUL CASEY:  Yeah, Justin's victory was phenomenal.  He's a good friend and I was so proud of what he did; the way he played; the way he conducted himself.  And it's just another one of those moments where I thought, I just want to replicate what Justin is doing.
His career started off indifferently; well documented how he struggled at the beginning.  I've seen the work that he's put in.  You guys have seen the work that he's put in.  And he is one of the world's best players.
I've been there before, and I desperately want to be back in control of my golf game winning championships again.  I just‑‑ yeah, watching him just gave me another little sort of kick, another sort of prod.

Q.  Getting back to The Ryder Cup team again after missing a couple?
PAUL CASEY:  Of course.  That's obviously a target.  Always is.  It's hard being on the outside of the last two, but, watching them was entertaining; I will say that (laughs).  But I'd rather watch them inside the ropes.

Q.  I don't mean this question to be too personal, but talk about people in your sort of‑‑ off the golf course and working with you, I noticed that you and Pollyanna are getting on well; how does that help having a steady kind of relationship off the golf course?
PAUL CASEY:  It's great.  Pollyanna's fantastic.  Yeah, I think she understands me very well, and for those that have met her will understand the positiveness that she carries with her at all times.  It's very infectious and it's something that‑‑ I'm not that way, and I need that, and it's nice to have that around.  She is very calm, and I think that's been a very positive influence on my golf and on my life in general.

Q.  You were up there in 2006 here at this course, and The Irish Open has been through a few tricky years, and since then we've had no sponsor for a couple of years.  Where does it stand or rate in your mind, The Irish Open, as a European Tour event; does it surprise you that it doesn't have a sponsor?
PAUL CASEY:  Yes, but I'm not in the know, so I'm not sure why.  For me, looking at this, I don't understand why not but hopefully that can be rectified.
And judging by last year's turnout, which was off the charts; this year's turnout has been phenomenal even with obviously the Irish players not being up at the top of the leaderboard, it's still been I think a massive success this week.
So I love it.  I think we need an Irish Open.  This is a National Championship.  It has the history.  It has the great golfers turning up.  It has my support.  I mean, I'm going to be back for years to come.  Now that I've got my name on this trophy, I'm not going to miss one of these.  I'll do whatever I can, but it needs everybody's help.  If I can help in any way, I'd love to help; I think it's already a success, but make it more of a success.

Q.  Can I just clarify, when you said you were not aware that you were at one point three shots clear‑‑
PAUL CASEY:  No idea.

Q.  And then it was back to one‑‑
PAUL CASEY:  No idea.

Q.  And secondly, any advice to Rory on playing with Nike equipment?
PAUL CASEY:  Wow.  I must admit, I've not had a Nike question in a while.
Wow, whatever I say could be quite delicate (laughter).  I have the fullest confidence in Rory and I think‑‑ what I've been reading, I would agree with what I've been reading, which is that Rory is more kind of a streaky player than kind of a‑‑ was it Phil Mickelson somebody quoted or likened him to; is that right?
PAUL CASEY:  But I have 100 per cent confidence in Rory being back in the winner's circle very, very soon.  I'll be honest, I don't‑‑ I talk to Rory on the range but I don't know what he's working on or what he's been struggling with equipment‑wise.  That's something to ask Rory and ask the techs.

Q.  He said he has still not quite got the driver right.  Do you think it's just a matter of time?
PAUL CASEY:  I can't answer‑‑ we have so many different specs.  He's using a different golf ball to me, a different shaft, a different head.  It's so many variables.
You know, it really frustrates me when I read negative press about Nike and their equipment.  They are a legitimate golf brand, legitimate golf company, and sure, people don't necessarily see what I see behind the scenes with the R&D and the personnel that are making fantastic golf products.
It's right up there, I would put sort of three or four other manufacturers up there in the same ballpark.  But it is not inferior in any way, and this is just something that he's just trying to get right.  I have confidence that he will.

Q.  I saw you sprint up the 18th fairway at one point; your toe isn't as sore as it was anymore now?
PAUL CASEY:  My toe is actually very sore.  I've got no cartilage in the right big toe joint.  I'm not very technical on names of bones, but yeah, it is quite painful.  At some point, I'll probably have an injection in it to relieve that pain, and probably end of the year, I might have it cut open and cleaned out, which might mean some time off.
But I'm manning up and I'm dealing with the pain (laughter).

Q.  And do you still snowboard or have you given up?
PAUL CASEY:  I just haven't been back‑‑ I haven't really given it up.  But I believe it's now in my contract, my Nike contract.  (Laughter).

Q.  Can you give us some thoughts on the course and the setup for this week now that you've come out on top?
PAUL CASEY:  I enjoyed the course the first time I saw it back in 2006.  When you say Colin Montgomerie design, there's a few people that always shudder.  But it was a different setup a few years ago.  The rough was down, which obviously played into my hands, and it actually it was great, considering the wind we had; if we had this wind and the rough from a few years ago, it would have been carnage out there.
I have to applaud Mr.Plummer and his team for the work they did, because considering they closed the course a week before we turned up, it's in phenomenal shape.  The greens are rolling beautifully and it really was in immaculate condition.  For me it's a fun golf course because I can hit the driver everywhere and take a lot of the bunkers out of play and be very aggressive, which is a style of golf I like.
It's not‑‑ there's some criticism saying an Irish Open should be on a links, but there are golf courses and probably one of my best golfing memories of Ireland is K Club so doesn't necessarily have to be on links course for an Irish Open; I disagree with that statement.  It's nice moving around and wherever it is, I'll support it.

Q.  Getting back to The Ryder Cup team, with this victory, what does this do now for sort of going forward for the rest of the season, and is the goal still getting back on the PGA TOUR?
PAUL CASEY:  Yeah the goal is still getting back on the PGA TOUR, but I'll always play in Europe.
It makes my season easier in terms of planning.  I mean, I think I was chasing a little bit the last couple of months trying to play everything, because I know I was playing quite well, and it just needed something to click.
This week, the putting clicked.  I actually switched putters and put a new putter in, same Nike putter.  Looks the same.  Has dots on top to line the ball up; that was the only difference. 
And you know, maybe chasing it, playing a lot of golf, I was sort of getting in my own way a little bit.  Now I can maybe back off a little bit, take some time off and just keep working my tail off and putting the foot down, and with the schedule now, knowing I'll be in Champions and Dubai and other places the end of the year is a massive relief and can focus on World Ranking points again and maybe not worried about how I'm playing.
.  It's almost there; let's just get on with it and start winning things again and get back to the sort of thought process and the golf that I had before.

Q.  Forgive my ignorance, you are in Muirfield now, The Open?

Q.  You're not?

Q.  At least you're in the PGA, you're back in the Top‑100 now, I suppose?
PAUL CASEY:  Am I?  Sweet.

Q.  What is coming up in the immediate future?  What you've achieved today will turn you in your own mind I suppose into a potential major winner?
PAUL CASEY:  Yeah, again, watching Justin, that really lit the fire.  A few years ago, I was ready back in 2009 when I was playing some really spectacular stuff and obviously injuries hit, but I'm really ready now to deal with everything, everything that happens after a major victory.  That is the goal, and watching Justin, that just makes me so excited, and I just want to do that.
I want to replicate that and still be‑‑ I'm in The Open.  Go and win the Scottish and get myself in The Open; I still want to be an Englishman lifting the Claret Jug.  Those goals have very much been thrust back into my mind again.

Q.  How did you do when you played Muirfield last time; fair?
PAUL CASEY:  I missed the cut the last time we were there, but I was young and naïve, and I missed the Saturday weather, so it wasn't a bad thing‑‑ from what I remember, yeah.  I don't remember it very well.  Very fair.  Some of the best par 3s we play in links golf.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Ladies and gentlemen, 2013 Irish Open, Paul Casey.

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