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An interview with Paul Casey

Paul Casey is making his Ryder Cup debut here at Oakland Hills Country Club

September 14, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Paul Casey making his Ryder Cup debut. Paul, welcome to Oakland Hills, some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q&A please.

PAUL CASEY: This is the coldest press room I've ever been in. (Laughter.)

JULIUS MASON: Yeah, the Americans wear sweaters in here.

PAUL CASEY: I'm very excited. I'm excited to finally be here. It's been a long year of trying to qualify for this Ryder Cup Team. I feel very relaxed right now, just excited to see what the week is going to bring. And had a fantastic flight over yesterday. The team is in good spirits and I'm just looking forward to it.

Q. Can you tell us about that flight? I understand it might be the biggest plane in the world.

PAUL CASEY: It's the longest plane in the world is what I've heard, 16 feet longer than the American-built Boeing. The Europeans are longer, I guess. (Laughter.) It was a lot of fun yesterday. It was just we had a lot of fun on the plane, a fantastic flight with Virgin Atlantic, and they just made us feel very, very special. Very good team spirit on the plane. A few guys rested. We made a bit of cards on the plane and had some fun and discussed some things. It was just a real good, my first ever sort of team flight in that kind of situation. It was a lot of fun and one I would like to repeat in four years to come back here.

Q. Have you pretty much been Americanized? What would the other guys say?

PAUL CASEY: No, I'm not Americanized. My home is still England. I do live in the States. I lived in the States, obviously after college I decided to stay in the States because it's a great place to work on the game throughout the wintertime. And if I had to choose to actually live in one place I would go back to England and live in London. But I do enjoy my time in the States. I do have a lot of friends over here. I have an American girlfriend, but she knows who she's supporting this week. She knows who pays the bills. (Laughing). No, it's not a contest, but I do enjoy being in the States.

Q. There's a lot of references to the camaraderie between all of the European guys, and I know you can't speak to the other side, but do you think the comparison is overblown? Do you think there is that much more camaraderie on the European side than the American?

PAUL CASEY: I think there is. How much more than the U.S., I don't know. It's natural that we probably get along better because of where we play, when we play out in other countries we are forced to interact with each other. It doesn't mean the Americans -- if they were in that situation and they played in Europe and were forced to stay at the same hotels and share courtesy cars, they would probably get along very well and have the same team spirit we do. Do I think the Americans team spirit is bad? No, not at all. I just think the European Team spirit is exceptional. We are all individuals. We want to beat each other just as bad as the Americans do when they play each other in individual events. If I've got -- this week is just different. We all bond. The Europeans have had some really big names awhile ago when you had Seve, Langer, and Monty and all of those guys, Faldo, Lyle, real superstars on the team, they still managed to bond, those were big individuals and big personalities but they still managed to put that aside and bond as a team. Europeans are just very, very good at doing that.

Q. I wonder what it would feel like to be one of the so-called Young Guns of the European Tour and can you compare this to an Arizona State versus Arizona basketball rivalry?

PAUL CASEY: It's bigger than that. I'm excited about this Ryder Cup. It's great to be a rookie on this team. I think it's going to be great playing my first Ryder Cup in the States. I think there might actually be a little less pressure on some of the rookies playing on this side of the Atlantic. There's always pressure -- but I think playing in front of your home crowd could be almost overwhelming. We're going to be the underdogs and I think we'll use that to our advantage again. In terms of the rivalry, this is a huge rivalry. This is more than ASU against Arizona. Of course we were never really very good at football or basketball anyways, so I tend not to go there.

Q. You know Luke Donald awfully well. Can you just talk about your experiences with him, how well you know him and how you guys have played in the past as young players and also what conversations you might have had now that you're both on the team together as rookies?

PAUL CASEY: We have a very good relationship, but we actually, we don't talk to each other as much as people think. We are the sort of friends that we cannot see each other for a year and we could pick up conversation right where it left off a year ago. We have a great respect for each other's games. We have confidence in each other's games and with the experience we had, we both in various stages of our college career were ranked No. 1 as a collegiate player. That helped us I think bond together because being in a foreign country, we didn't really know each other that well before we went to college in the States. Our Walker Cup experience, we just have a very good sort of natural relationship. I don't call Luke, Luke doesn't call me. We don't pick up the phone, we don't chat, we don't go out for a drink, but we are exceptionally good friends. It's a very difficult sort of relationship to explain. It would be great to reunite that, rejuvenate that experience that we had at the Walker Cup to get that going again as a team. And I'm sure this week, hopefully, we will. I think Luke is a great asset to this team. I'm glad he was picked. I think he deserved a pick. You know, he's a quiet guy. I don't get much out of Luke. I don't know about you guys, but I don't get much out of Luke. But when he does open his mouth, he's usually got something very, very good to say.

Q. How difficult of a decision was it to change your caddie on so close to the match, when you made the decision and who will carry the bag for you this week?

PAUL CASEY: It was a very difficult decision to make. It was something that was going to happen after this week, unfortunately. So I guess it's not a huge change, it's just been brought forward a week, as simple as that. The new caddie will be Craig Connelly. Craig was working for Helen Alfredsson until Sunday. Craig has caddied in Solheim Cups. He's won LPGA tournaments. He caddied for me at the BMW earlier this year. This situation with Ken Comboy is just unfortunate. It's one of those things that the change had to be made. I think we both knew that the relationship, the team was pretty much over. You know, this is a business. I think we both realized that. It's not -- it certainly wasn't a decision based on -- it's based on, I need to win as many points as I can at the Ryder Cup and if there's anything that's going to prevent me doing that, that needs to change. It doesn't mean Kenny is a bad caddie, he is a fantastic caddie and he will carry bags for tournament winners in the future, I'm sure of that. Unfortunately, the spark that needed to be there and the confidence in each other had gone, and that's unfortunate. So the decision made on Sunday and Ken, I'm sure is very, very upset about it. It wasn't an easy decision to make. But it had to be made. I'm sad that Ken is not here, but I'm also very excited that I've got Craig on the bag this week and I think I will be a better player and be more productive and be a better asset for the team now that Craig is on the bag.

Q. And why Craig, how did it come about that it was Craig?

PAUL CASEY: I've known Craig for quite a while. I've known Craig for a while, played golf with Craig many a time. The first time Craig has ever carried a bag for me, funny enough, was at BMW. But we are very, very good friends. It was something that, unfortunately, that is a decision I probably should have made earlier. It's as simple as that. You know, both Ken and I wanted our relationship, our team to work. Unfortunately it wasn't. Should the decision have been made earlier on my behalf? Yeah, maybe I made on error there, but it's done now. It maybe should have probably happened at the U.S. PGA or even after the NEC. But Craig is a very good friend and Craig will be hopefully welcomed by the other caddies, I know he will. We're going to bond as a team. He's looking forward to it as much as I am.

Q. Are they the same size and is one fitting into the other's uniform?

PAUL CASEY: I don't know. Because it was such a last-minute decision. I heard rumors that I sent in Craig's sizes earlier in the week and that is certainly not true. The decision was made on Sunday. So, I don't know, I've got no idea. I've not yet seen Craig. He is out walking the course currently. Craig is smaller. I finally a found a caddie who makes me look tall. I don't want to say anymore about Craig. You'll see him anyway. You can always ask him.

Q. And could we have the spelling of his name and where does he come from?

PAUL CASEY: Craig is -- I don't know where Craig's living right now. Craig's Scottish. It's Connelly, like Billy Connelly. He's a Celtic fan. That's enough information I think.

Q. Can you describe Bernhard's attention to detail and how much do you think Colin needed the Ryder Cup personally and professionally?

PAUL CASEY: Bernhard's attention to detail is fantastic. He is a great leader. He will not miss a trick this week. He has surrounded himself as well with fantastic assistant captains, vice captains, whatever you want to call them. We have vast amounts of knowledge and experience on our team. I'm in awe of what everybody has done, not only Bernhard but the whole sort of European side of things, the attention to detail is outstanding, just the flight yesterday for example, the team uniforms we've got, everything's done properly. Everything is being done to allow the players to play as good of golf as possible which is fantastic. Colin and the Ryder Cup, personally, I won't go into anything. It's just great to have him on the team. He's going to be a huge part of this team. I'm glad he got a pick. I think he deserved a pick. He will win points for us this week. He's a team leader within the team. You know, he's in good spirits. He's in great spirits. I shared a courtesy car with him this morning, he was bubbly and cheery as Colin always is. I think he's really looking forward to this week.

Q. Your previous caddie, how long was he with you?

PAUL CASEY: K Club 2003. So, 14 months or something like that, I'm not sure, 15.

Q. And could I just ask you, is the Walker Cup experience of any benefit at all to you coming into this Ryder Cup or is it so far removed from the scale of this event?

PAUL CASEY: I think there are certain aspects of the Walker Cup that are certainly beneficial to preparing you for the Ryder Cup. You know, in terms of playing, we were nervous in the Walker Cup. That's going to be ten fold here. But that was a great experience. Also, the off-course distractions. We had gala dinners, we had events we had to attend, opening ceremonies at the Walker Cup, and it's going to be the same this week. Obviously everything is on a bigger scale this week. But that helps. You have to learn how to sort of deal with those. Because there's a lot of distractions. We're here to play some matches at the end of the week and I think it's very easy to get distracted by the gala dinners and the cocktail parties and all of the rest with the opening ceremonies. I think the European Team, guys like Thomas over here will do their best to assist and making sure we don't get distracted by stuff like that. I think the Walker Cup certainly helps.

Q. What's your girlfriend's name?

PAUL CASEY: Jocelyn Hefner.

JULIUS MASON: And that's Paul Casey, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

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