The BMW Championship once again returns to Conway Farms in Lake Forest, IL this September 11-17th. The third leg of the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs will feature the remaining 70 top golfers in their quest to win the coveted FedEx Cup. Paul Casey, who finished 2nd to Dustin Johnson at last year’s BMW Championship, attended the tournament’s media day via Skype and offered the below thoughts:
THE MODERATOR: Paul, thanks for joining us from Arizona. You certainly went on a tear last year at the FedExCup Playoffs, notching three top-five finishes in four events, including the runner-up at the PGA Championship.
How excited are you to start the FedExCup Playoffs next week in New York?
PAUL CASEY: I’m really excited. You know, I mean, this has built through the years. The FedExCup is now something guys put down on their list that guys want to win and they want to achieve in their golfing career. To me, it’s a great time of the season to get hot; I typically do.
You said I finished runner-up last year to Dustin Johnson. I’ve actually got two runner-up finishes at the BMW Championship to Dustin Johnson. So if you can make sure he’s not in the field in a couple of weeks’ time, that would be great.
The system is still being tweaked, but I think the players really enjoy it. Clearly there’s volatility in it. But it really is, it’s a cool thing. The FedExCup is now something which is really etched in our minds all season long.
So to finally be on the eve of the FedExCup is very, very exciting for us.
THE MODERATOR: So it has built up over the years. Do you feel that excitement amongst the players to be able to start the Playoffs, and now we’re through the major season, but really ramp up for the FedExCup Playoffs? What does that mean to the guys out on TOUR?
PAUL CASEY: It means a lot. It means there’s almost a break at the end of this, as well, which is nice.
You know, clearly majors are what we’re always sort of trying to attain, and with last week — last week was exceptional. What a championship that was. But after major championships, it’s the PLAYERS Championship and it’s the FedExCup.
We’ve seen through the years this grow and grow, and you’ve got to remember, everything has to start somewhere. So we’re super excited about how it’s panned out over the last decade or so.
Guys are very excited that FedEx have stepped up and renewed their commitment to the FedExCup, which is massive for us. It shows what place it has within the sort of golfing community within the professionals. This is now very, very important to us.
You ask the guys who have won the FedExCup what it means to them; they are not going to dumb it down. This is a big deal. It’s about the trophy. It’s not always about the money.
You know, these are usually the strongest fields we have all year. Obviously last week’s field was exceptionally strong, always is, but guys don’t skip these things. Guys turn up. It’s the best golf I think of the season. Some of the most fierce competition you’ll see. Yeah, guys are really revved up.
THE MODERATOR: You finished in the Top-25 at the 2015 championship here at Conway Farms. What did you learn about this golf course, and what do you think you’ll take into this September playing at Conway Farms?
PAUL CASEY: You have to be aggressive. Jason Day, I want to say, was he 21-, 22-under par, something like that, when he won. It’s a fun golf course; Fazio, obviously aesthetically beautiful. Impeccable shape. I don’t know, hopefully it’s been a great growing season up in Chicago —
THE MODERATOR: We’ve had a little bit of rain.
PAUL CASEY: That’s fine. It makes it long.
It’s great crowds. I mean, everything about it — what I love about it is you’ve got the culmination of two great groups, as well. BMW have been involved in golf around the globe for many, many years and I’ve got many friends at BMW who run those events. They are by far the best-run events on the planet, and obviously the western Golf Association. You guys are 100-something years old, and you’ve been doing this a long, long time.
And when you get two amazing groups together like yourselves, you put on the best event, you really do. And I don’t mean that just because I’m here on a Skype call with you. You really do put on one of the best events on the planet.
And so people should be — it shows with who turns up the excitement in the crowd, the excitement from the players, and I love your choice of golf courses, as well. I love the fact we move it around. It’s exciting stuff.
So please don’t protect the golf course. Please let guys make birdies as usually do. Exciting stuff. I just hope I can hit it far enough. If it is a little damp, you know, I’m not the longest guy in the field, and I want to try to make as many birdies as I can. It will be a tough task for me to beat these guys but I’m usually up for it.
Q. You talked a little about the crowds that we’ve had at the BMW Championship. How would you compare golf fans in Chicago compared to the other cities that you guys visit year-in and year-out?
PAUL CASEY: Passionate, would be one phrase. You know, they are always vocal in Chicago, but well-educated, knowledgeable sports fans. I think that goes — you just have to look at your other sports in Chicago, whether that’s baseball or football, predominately lots of the sports. Golf is so well supported, because that’s just what Chicago fans do. I think it’s really good fun.
You know, if anybody’s seen my caddie out there, his name’s Johnny, AKA Johnny “Long Socks.” Usually Johnny is rolling around in some kind of Chicago team socks to get people fired up on my behalf. Johnny has been known to wear Yankee socks in Boston and Boston socks in New York. So hopefully, I just pray he doesn’t pick some kind of archenemy for Chicago fans and riles people up the wrong way.
It’s typically great. I actually love it. I love the vocal nature of it. It would be very dull and benign, and I really wouldn’t want to play golf if the fans didn’t come out and we didn’t have exciting times. I think you’ve got great fans and I think this championship is no exception.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll make sure we have some backup socks for your caddie.
PAUL CASEY: If you bring something, he’ll likely wear it.
Q. The TOUR just went through some schedule changes to move THE PLAYERS championship up to March and the PGA Championship to May. What do you feel about the schedule changes? Talk about that and the TOUR season as a whole.
PAUL CASEY: Well, first of all, THE PLAYERS moving back to March; I was always a fan of playing it in March. I played my best golf at Sawgrass when it was overseeded. I’ve struggled since it got moved. So I’m a fan for that, I have to admit.
Moving the PGA, I’m also a fan of that. And the reason being, the main reason behind it; people talk about different venues and locations that are then made available for that time of year. They also highlight venues we might lose because of the weather at that time of year. There’s pros and cons there.
But I think the big win is the fact that The PGA of America are trying to put their great staff, their great PGA professionals around the country, and when you start off with the PGA Championship that early in the year, not the first major, but the second one, then you’ve got months to capitalize on that great championship.
For people who are then excited about the game of golf, you can step up and teach them and introduce them to this great game; I think there’s an opportunity when you have extra time that you can use if that’s your task.
The back end of the season, where it’s been — that becomes very difficult. You clash with the Olympics every four years, which the Olympics — golf being in the Olympics is a great thing. But obviously harmful, detrimental to the PGA Championship, the U.S. PGA Championship. I think a lot of pluses. I think the guys who have thought it through think the same thing.
THE MODERATOR: Taking it back to the PGA TOUR Playoffs, you’ve been playing well this season and played well at the PGA. How is your game? And does finishing second last year and having some experience at Conway Farms, how does that bode for you coming into the Playoffs and coming here to Conway Farms? How is your game at this point?
PAUL CASEY: Actually the game wasn’t great last week, but it’s been very, very good for a while now the last couple of months, so very consistent stuff.
The one thing I’ll say is I’m incredibly keen to get another victory. It’s been a long time since I won in the US. I came close last year obviously at the BMW, and also another FedEx event, and also The Tour Championship I had my chances.
So I’m very keen and excited to get another win. I think that’s a good combination, and a dangerous combination for everybody else: Good golf and excited player.
I have got a lot of other stuff going on, as well. We’re currently back in Arizona, as you said. My wife’s expecting another little baby in a few weeks’ time. And after my first little guy, Lex, he was born, I actually won the week after he was born back in Holland at the Dutch Open.
So I’m going to go with, I think the BMW Championship, hopefully if we time it right, I should be a dad again. That should be the first tournament after our little one is born.
So if history repeats itself, maybe this is a good omen.
THE MODERATOR: Well, we appreciate you scheduling that in the off-week. That would be great. (Laughter).
We’re excited to see you come to Chicago, play here at Conway Farms again and be one of the Top-70 players that are going to play in the FedExCup here at Conway Farms and the BMW championship. We appreciate your time, and good luck next week in the start of the Playoffs. We appreciate you being here with us today.
PAUL CASEY: Much appreciated. Thank you very much.