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An Interview with: PAUL CASEY
Paul, welcome to Valhalla. Thoughts on the first day and on the golf course from what you saw for the first time yesterday.
PAUL CASEY: I thought the golf course yesterday was exceptional. I thought the layout was very, very good. It was the first time for me to play Valhalla, and I liked what I saw. So it's great to be here. Looking forward to this. Can't wait to get started on Friday.
Q. Would you like to get started on Friday with Padraig Harrington? I believe that's a serious possibility, and what do you think that pairing might be like?
PAUL CASEY: That's the rumor going around. I think it was 10:1 were the odds on that.
I mean, I'd love to play with Padraig. I'd play with any of the guys on the team to be honest. We've got some great players, and I get along with everybody. But that I think would be a good pairing. But I don't know yet. So I wish I could enlighten you, but you know, I really haven't talked much with Nick about pairings yet. I know guys have been sort of batting around ideas. I think we make a good team.
I mean, any time you can play with a double-major champion, a double-major champion from one year, that would be very, very nice.
Q. Padraig said last week on Friday that he likes to play with a slightly more erratic player in foursomes so that he doesn't feel guilty when he misses greens and vice versa. Is that a backhanded compliment?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, I guess it is. I won't disagree with that. I guess I am slightly erratic. My greens in regulation percentage is fairly high. That's probably the strong part of my game. You know, he's an exceptional putter so I think that could be a very, very good combination.
Erratic, yeah (laughing).
Q. Having been on the course yesterday, and when you look at the players on these two teams, do you think there are any players this course will suit particularly well?
PAUL CASEY: I think playing the first few holes, I thought that really a long hitter, a guy not necessarily the sort of, shall we say, a more erratic player would be liking this golf course. But when you come down the stretch on holes, 15, 16, for example, 17, as well, they are not the widest fairways you've seen. In a pressure situation, those are going to be tricky to hit.
So I don't know what kind of player it suits. The golf ball was going a very, very long way yesterday, so I'm not sure that length was a huge advantage. And certainly on my team, we've got some guys who shift the ball out there. I mean, not as far as J.B. Holmes, but a lot of the guys can reach the par 5s, like 10, for example, I got up there pretty comfortable into a headwind.
I'm not sure, but it's going to come down to playing very, very good golf. I think it will be, again, won or lost on the greens. We've got some amazing green complexes around here, and the more you talk about it, maybe it's precision iron play that sort of has an advantage around here. We just talked about the green complex on 8, for example, the par 3. It's an amazing complex. You know, love it or loathe it; it's exceptionally difficult, and you've got to hit a great iron shot in there to get close.
I think it's going to take everything. You've just got to play very, very good golf this week.
Q. Just going back to pairings, you had a pretty good partnership with Robert Karlsson last time around and got two halves. Is there a sense that you maybe want to better that, get back together and get that win?
PAUL CASEY: I enjoyed playing with Robert a lot, and obviously the form he's in is great. That was a great performance last week. You know, he was tired on the golf course yesterday, which is understandable. But I think he'll continue to play great golf this week.
So I would love to pair up with Robert again. The other guys, I've had -- well, the other guy I've had Ryder Cup history with has been David Howell, and he's not here this week. And then other guys in team competitions, Luke would be probably the most prominent after we won the World Cup, but I've also played a World Cup with Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.
You know, I think I would make a good pairing with those guys, or as I said before, any of the guys on the team, I'm very, very happy to play with those, but yeah, Robert Karlsson, I'd love to play with him.
Q. How did you react to the news that you needed to be here for 6:30 this morning, and are you a good early riser normally?
PAUL CASEY: Well, I was disappointed not to get my media stuff done yesterday. We were out there a long, long time. I think I was on the golf course about six hours, 15 minutes, and the group behind me went nearer seven hours.
So we thought we could get it done yesterday, and I was happy to do it but the captain overruled and said we should stay out on the golf course and that was more important, which absolutely fine with. It was good to see the golf course yesterday and get that done.
In terms of being an early riser, I'm absolutely rubbish at it. I'm on West Coast time right now, so it's four o'clock in the morning. So please excuse me if I yawn once or twice; it's not your questions. It's just I'm tired (laughing).
Q. Will you be nice and bright-eyed for the dinner tonight?
PAUL CASEY: Yes (laughs).
Q. You'll excuse us for not yawning at your answers then, to be fair game. If I remember, you and Ian, and perhaps one more, I don't recall, in your debut didn't play until Saturday. I wonder if you can talk about, since there's ten rookies on both sides, maybe the pros and cons of playing the first day and getting your feet wet or sitting out a day. What do you see as the differences there?
PAUL CASEY: My rookie year, Langer made all the rookies go down the first tee on Friday morning and watch the first tee shots so we could get a taste of what the atmosphere was like. The only rookie that played was Luke Donald -- let me rephrase that. The only rookie that played on Friday, the first day, was Luke Donald in 2004 for The European Team. Based on the way that Luke had played leading up to The Ryder Cup, he felt he was the playing the best golf of any of the rookies, which was absolutely fine with the rest of the guys.
You know, going down to that first tee on Friday it really gave you a taste of what it was going to be like when you got up there and had to hit that first tee shot. Not sure whether it helped or whether it scared us more than we already were, sort of scared the living daylights out of us, the atmosphere.
But to be honest, I was actually very happy from my perspective. I was very happy not to play that first Friday; watch, learn, see what it was like. We made a point of going out on the golf course and playing behind some of the groups and getting in a few holes. I felt very, very ready when I teed up on Saturday and played with David Howell and actually found the first fairway and went on to win the match.
You know, I think the same needs to probably be done this week, if the guys are not comfortable to play on Friday. I don't know whether you say anything, but I'm sure Nick will find that out in the next few days, you know, talk to them a little bit. I think it's another good idea to come down to the first tee on Friday and absorb the atmosphere of the first tee shot. There's nothing else like it in golf, and go from there.
Really it's a comfort thing. This is my third one of these now and I remember at The K Club I thought I would be better than I was the at Oakland Hills, and I wasn't. It's still a bad situation. Not much thought is given to the type of swing you're going to make. You're just trying to remember to breathe and stick to the routine, which is another great thing that Langer gave us was stick to the routine. He always had many wise words to try to get us to feel comfortable on that first tee, and I'm sure the rookies will be fine. The guys nowadays, they play in the biggest championships, and you know, they are all great players to be here. So I don't think there's going to be any issues.
Q. Do you feel any additional sense of responsibility as a captain's pick? Do you come into the match feeling like you have anything to prove? Is it different from when you qualified?
PAUL CASEY: I think it is a little different. I won't say it's not, but I don't -- you know, I've been picked for a reason. But I also feel that I'm very much part of this team and I'm not seen differently, certainly, amongst the team. Ian and myself are part of a 12-man team, European Team, who are going to try to play as great of golf as we can and try and win this match.
You know, I've not felt anything from the other team members or anybody else that we're different; we haven't earned our way onto this team, so it's been great so far this week. I'm not going to put any added pressure on myself to feel that I have to prove something. I'm going to play the best golf I can this week, and my main priority is to help my team and try and win every single point that I can when I tee it up on the first tee and we go from there.
Q. A day in the company of Captain Faldo, now that the match focus is on, what are your impressions of him as a captain and how does he compare to the Woosie and Bernhard regimes that you've experienced before?
PAUL CASEY: It's difficult to compare the three of those guys in terms of their approach. They are all slightly different.
You know, what they have in common is the passion, the drive, the wanting to get their guys playing their best golf possible. What I have noticed with Nick is you can really see why this guy is a six-time major champion. Little things that come out and give you an insight as to the way he thinks on the golf course. I mean, he's big on visualization, for example. He's always talking about that and visualizing shots and preparing yourself for this week. That's slightly different from what we heard from Langer, Captain Langer and Captain Woosnam.
It's not better; it's not worse; it's just different. It's just Nick. So I've seen a side of Nick I've never seen before because I've never really been able to sort of get that close to him and talk to him and pick his brains before. And you're not really needing to this week, because he's just pouring it out there. He's pouring out all of the ideas, he's got sort of all the stuff that he's stored up during the years, and he's now trying to say, sort of pour it out there to get every ounce out of us to perform well.
I think he's been a great captain so far. He's communicated very well with me leading up to this. I had no idea what he was going to do. I didn't know about the picks until about an hour and a half after everybody else did. I was on a plane and I had no inkling. But he's been great. He's been a top captain.
Q. On the wildcards, do you know whether you were his first or second choice, and if not, are you curious to know that?
PAUL CASEY: I've not thought about it.
Q. The thing is, Ian has had a lot of heat about being preferred to Darren, whereas it might have been you?
PAUL CASEY: I agree. I have no idea and it might well be that way. Ian has taken a lot of flak over the past couple of weeks. You know, the thing is, now we're a team of 12 guys. Certainly this week, we've been a unit. He's been included -- we've both been included and we are part of that team. As I say, nothing has been mentioned of that in the team room.
So I don't know. I don't think -- I think it was a difficult decision for Nick. I come first alphabetically, but that's all I know.
Q. He announced Ian first.
PAUL CASEY: (Laughing).
Q. The second half of my question was, how did you hear about the rumor of you and Padraig possibly being a pairing?
PAUL CASEY: Actually I heard it from Jos Lincoln last night, was the rumor going around. I think it was -- and the odds I got, a friend of mine told me from some website in Ireland or something like that were running a book on it. So that's how I had heard about it.
As I say, I think we could be a good pairing, but you know, I don't want -- you're going to write about it now, but I honestly have no clue as to the pairings on Friday or Saturday, and I'm very happy to play with any of the guys on our team.
Q. Two years ago in Ireland, obviously the whole major drought thing was still going on for the Europeans, and you and Padraig and a couple of other guys said that it's just going it take one guy to break through and then it will come and guys will get confidence off of that. Have you seen guys cozying up to Padraig this week and maybe trying to pick his brain for how he broke through; and, yes, because it has gone on and there have been more and it's all been the same guy, how much confidence have you guys got from him being able to break through and do that?
PAUL CASEY: I think it's difficult to answer that for the other guys. For myself, I've talked to him a little bit about it. You know, I know -- I mean, he works so hard. There's so many aspects that he covers; it's difficult to know exactly what the key is. I think it's just a culmination of all that hard work he's put in. I know he's changed his workout routine, for example, and that's been fairly key, I think, anyway, towards his success.
As I say, I'm just trying to -- I think try and cover as many things as he does. In no way have I sort of replicated what Padraig's done the past couple of years, but my own major performances, I haven't missed a cut in the past couple of years and I've always struggled trying to play the different types of major golf courses and for me that's certainly a step forward. It's not a breakthrough, but it's a step forward.
And watching him go on and win two this year has been fantastic. I've got some years on him, which is about the only thing that I've got an advantage on. Yeah, just trying to sort of replicate what he's doing on and off the golf course and trying to sort of not miss an area; because everybody is so good now, you just can't get away with easing off or making a mistake on how you prepare for things.
KELLY ELBIN: Paul Casey, thank you very much.
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