An email conversation with Paul Casey: 'A Green Jacket or a Claret Jug? I'll take both, please'
Benefits of getting the better of Tiger; Nick Faldo's impact as Ryder captain; The refreshing change of pace in China
Monday 05 November 2007
You are playing in the HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai this week. It is being billed as the "Asian major". Is that realistic? Certainly. It has the biggest prize fund on offer in Asia this year for a strokeplay event and the field is fantastic, with half of the world's top 20 players entered. It has definitely established itself as an event not to be missed and the field has such depth that winning there will have a real impact on the world rankings.
Where would you put it on your priority list? Pretty high. A win or a strong finish puts you in a great position on the European Tour Order of Merit until early next year at least and would be a great boost to my ranking.
It's the start of the 2008 season, isn't it? How did 2007 go for you then? It started great when I won in Abu Dhabi and I am really pleased at how consistently I performed at the majors. But I would have liked to have won a couple more titles and I would, of course, have liked to have finished higher on the Order of Merit. Especially having missed out so narrowly last year.
What were your goals at the start of the season? I would like to have finished in the world top 10 and I would have liked to have won a few more events, but I have learnt a lot this year. Particularly about how best to prepare and I feel very excited to start a new season. A win or a good finish at the HSBC Champions will really kick-start 2008.
English golf seems to be in rude health at the moment, what with you, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood in and around the world's top 30. How lucky is the English golf fan right now? I think we all feel lucky to have each other. It really is a great time for English golf and I think we can feed off each other's success to bring our games on. I really admire what Justin has done this year and yesterday's Volvo Masters success at Valderrama was fully deserved and the Order of Merit title will really kick him on. I think Justin has been very smart with his scheduling and the ways he has travelled and I will certainly be looking to incorporate a little of that into mine.
Why is it that Andy Murray seems to get more exposure than you lot? After all, more people play golf than tennis in Britain. I think golf gets pretty good coverage – tennis and golf do pretty well for space in the papers here and I think between us we get some pretty good media support. Andy Murray is doing a great job for tennis and I guess there are a few factors that make him a unique story. He's only 20, so that's pretty impressive, and he is the first Scottish tennis player to mount such a charge up the rankings. With Tim [Henman] retiring, he really is carrying all our tennis aspirations on his shoulders. He is a great story.
There's no Tiger playing in Shanghai this week, as usual. Is that a good or bad thing from your own perspective? Well, yes, there is no Tiger but there is Phil Mickelson. The world's No 2 is playing for the first time, so I think that makes the event very interesting. I don't think it's good or bad for me personally, as it happens. Tiger has certainly won a lot of events I've played in but, at the same time, he was in the HSBC World Match Play last year and I managed to win that one. So that gives me a bit of confidence.
Nowadays, there seems to be a top-class golf event taking place somewhere in the world every week. The top professionals have to guard against burnout, but isn't it tempting with all that prize-money up for grabs to play every week? Yeah, there are a lot of great golf events around the world and it is difficult to choose which events to play and which to miss out. We all appreciate the money our sponsors put into golf and don't want to let anyone down. But, at the end of the day, we all have to plan a schedule that works for us as individuals so there does end up being a lot of great events that we have to turn down.
What are the main differences with playing in the Far East? I love playing in the Far East. I've had a lot of success there and I enjoy the change of pace and the different environment. I feel very comfortable playing in China. I enjoy the food and the refreshing enthusiasm of the crowds.
Nick Faldo's already come in for a bit of stick as Ryder Cup captain. What are your first impressions of him? I really enjoyed the Seve Trophy week and his team won so that is a pretty good start for Nick.
How often do you replay the video of your hole-in-one in the Ryder Cup last year? Is that the highlight of your career so far? Actually, I think winning the HSBC World Match Play the week before the Ryder Cup might have been the highlight so far. But that win, together with the Ryder Cup week that followed, certainly made it the best two weeks of my career so far.
What are your goals for 2008? I don't really like to outline my goals, but of course, win more events and compete in the majors.
If someone offered you one major in your career right now, but no other tournament wins, would you take it? No... But I'd be a little tempted.
A Green Jacket, or a Claret Jug? Both please.
Which other sports do you enjoy? I actually played a lot of sports like tennis, cricket and golf growing up, which, given the results of a recent study HSBC did into the values different sports can help teach, could explain why I've had the confidence to win big events like last year's HSBC World Match Play. The study showed golf is good for developing decision-making and tennis for teaching self-confidence. Playing sport was an important role in my upbringing. So much so that I've recently launched the Paul Casey Foundation aimed at introducing children to the benefits of sport.
Can you speak any Chinese? No, it's really hard. Maybe I'll learn some phrases this week.
The HSBC Champions tees off the 2008 European Tour season at the Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China this week. Visit www.hsbcgolf.com for more details, and to find out about HSBC's newly announced Women's Champions event in Singapore.
* Name Paul Casey.
* Born Cheltenham, 21 July 1977.
* Lives Arizona.
* Coach Peter Kostis.
* In 1998, took a golf scholarship at Arizona State University and became the first student in the American college system to win the prestigious Pac-10 Championships three years in a row.
* In 1999 Walker Cup became only the third player in 77 years to win all four matches.
* In 2000 came second in fifth European Tour event before winning the Scottish PGA Championship in his 12th tournament.
* Has won eight European Tour titles, most notably the HSBC World Match Play last year.
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