Q. Tell us a little bit about your day.
PAUL CASEY: I know it was cold this morning, but it was a perfect day for golf, and this golf course is — the first time I’ve ever played it. It’s actually a great golf course. So happy to be in Vegas, and once I warmed up a bit, I got firing, and really happy with today’s round of golf.
Did a lot of things right. I’ve been working on the game very hard through the wintertime, and had a decent result last week in Mayakoba, but I just felt like I started to build some confidence out there, and it felt kind of vintage stuff. It was fun.
Q. Have you had any experience playing this golf course before?
PAUL CASEY: No, never seen it.
Q. When you came out for a practice round, did you think a 63 the first day out was in the cards for you?
PAUL CASEY: There’s been chatter. I mean, there was chatter about — after Joaco’s amazing 59 last week, there was chatter like could this be a 58 week, which is crazy, because I think there was a 57 on Korn Ferry I heard or something. It’s awesome.
That’s kind of I think where guys’ attitudes are at in a positive way because we’re looking at golf courses now and everybody is super aggressive. The greens out there are phenomenal, beautifully manicured and pristine golf course.
The only sort of down side was lift, clean, and place. You almost didn’t want to have the low round because you don’t want that little asterisk with lift, clean, and place. I was surprised scores weren’t quite as low as I thought, so I didn’t think 7-under would be leading — well, currently in the clubhouse. Harry is up there, as well, too.
Q. With such a stacked leaderboard and everyone so close together, what do you need to do to break away from the crowd tomorrow and get a solo strong lead?
PAUL CASEY: I think it’s going to be one of those where guys keep going low. Guys are not going to back up, so I expect if you look at it each day, there’s going to be a bunch of guys who are shooting 7-under or more each day.
What would that put us at? I think you’ve got to look at — somebody might get close to like 18, 19, 20-under by the end of the week, so it’s foot down and keep going.
Q. Are you doing anything on the Vegas strip tonight or are you going to go home and get a good night’s sleep?
PAUL CASEY: I’ve got some sushi tonight with Ban. No, guys went to the sphere yesterday. I think Chucky went to a magic show. Look, when in Vegas, this is the entertainment sort of capital of the world.
No, I’m laying low.
Q. We talked about this in Miami, but it was obviously a bit of a frustrating year last year with some injuries and everything. Do you feel like this year is going to be vintage Paul Casey this year?
PAUL CASEY: I hope so. I’ve battled stuff for a long time now. Yeah, a little more time off, a little fewer rounds of tournament golf is better for my body, plain and simple. But I still — I couldn’t figure it out last year. I was still battling stuff.
I feel really good about things. I don’t feel like I’m quite at my peak physically. I’m getting older. But I’m no slower. The ball speed is up there. I really feel if I can — the confidence is probably the last missing piece right now, so if I can get that confidence back, there’s no reason why I can’t shoot plenty of low rounds this year, which is the plan.
I feel like I’ve not really made my mark yet. My first year on LIV, there were some good results, but last year was disappointing, other than the team aspect. Love being part of the Crushers, but I don’t feel I’ve done my bit contributing and having that individual success, as well.
Q. Obviously this is probably the coldest day we’ve played in LIV. Was it a big deal? Did you get —
PAUL CASEY: No, it’s not that cold. There wasn’t a frost delay. You see some guys in wooly hats and stuff, but I think it was a perfect day’s golf, in the end. You know, crisp.
The thing I would add to Jane’s question about if I’ve played this golf course before, I’ve not, but I think we’re at 2,000 feet. This is like being in Phoenix, which is my home. Phoenix is I think 1,500 feet. Scottsdale is up there in the 2,000s.
I’m very used to this kind of altitude and how the ball flies in the desert. To me, this is like playing golf at home.
Q. Describe the golf course again in your words. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind about it and what’s it like playing it?
PAUL CASEY: It’s got some history, this place. First million dollar event, you’ve got the FBI’s plane in the lake. It’s got its own very cool history which precedes it. I’d heard about this place before I’d arrived on property, and a lot of positive speak, and quite right. The architecture and the conditioning of this place is second to none. This rivals other golf courses in the city and in Nevada.
Maybe it doesn’t get talked about quite as much, but I think it’s got something very, very cool, a unique history, and guys are thoroughly enjoying playing it.
While we may have slightly tougher tests in terms of what the scores will yield this week, don’t let that fool you that it’s not a very, very good golf course.
Q. I think you holed out from the bunker for one of your birdies.
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, got lucky on that.
Q. I think you had a clean card. What was working overall?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, unfortunately I didn’t have a clean card. I had a three-putt bogey on my third hole of the day, No. 10. Silly error.
Then you said the hole-out bunker, which was on 18, after a poor second shot. Johnny my caddie said it had 5 or 6 written all over it and I turned it into a 3. Sometimes you need those little momentum-swinging shots.
But the rest of it was really, I felt — I had confidence with the driver, had very good distance control today, and then I started to see some lines on the greens. They’re simple little things individually, but I’ve not been able to put any of them together for quite a while.
So the fact that all these simple little things were coming together was beautiful.
Q. How important is the driver here since it’s pretty narrow?
PAUL CASEY: I think pretty damn important, only because, look, you can make this more difficult if you want to by hitting irons and 3-woods off the tees; but then you’re just going to be leaving yourself 30, 40 yards longer than everybody else.
Guys are go aggressive. I know — I’ll pick on someone like a Jon Rahm or someone that is going to be hitting drivers everywhere.
If I’m going to compete against somebody like that, I’ve got to do the same. Just get on with it. Pick a small target, as small as you can, and hopefully those smaller fairways play a little bit bigger than they really are.
To be honest, Mayakoba is one of the toughest tests in golf. I paced off the 12th fairway where I hit driver: 12 yards wide. This feels almost — what’s the opposite of claustrophobic?
PAUL CASEY: Generous, yeah, whatever word you want to use. This is a comforting feeling compared to the Mayakoba had a Jumanji as I would call it, jungle every side of the hole, as well.