Casey confident of Open challenge after breaking back into top-50

Joy Chakravarty 08:09 14/07/2015
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Back on track: Paul Casey.

At the start of the season, Paul Casey was at a crossroad.

For someone who had risen to as high as No3 in the world, the Englishman needed to take some drastic action to get his career back on the rails.

That decision was to give up on his European Tour membership and concentrate on the PGA Tour. It all started just before the Final Series last year, when despite qualifying for the DP World Tour Championship at No60, the Casey did not make the journey to Dubai.

Starting the year as the 75th ranked player in the world, he clearly had one goal – to get back into the top-50 and hence qualify automatically for all the majors and the World Golf Championship events.

The mission has been accomplished. With some strong displays this year – he has had six top-10 finishes including a play-off loss to Bubba Watson at the Travelers Championship last month – the 37-year-old Englishman is now the world No24.

Having had a good finish at St Andrews in 2010 (he was third after playing in the final group alongside champion Louis Oosthuizen), Casey is being looked upon as the player to carry the British flag now that defending champion Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the tournament.

“It’s a golf course I love,” said Casey. “I had a very good view of Louis (Oosthuizen) tearing the place to pieces back in 2010, but it was a real treat to be in the final group.

“I think my golf game suits the golf course very well. I’ve got enough length to carry some of the trouble, certainly on those opening holes, trying to get over some of those mounds, and I know it through playing it multiple times. I am looking forward to getting started.

“As for the British challenge, will I lead it? I’d like to lead it. You need a little bit of luck with maybe tee times. But it’s good to see Luke (Donald) is back in form.

Poults (Ian Poulter) is always up for a challenge on the links. Justin (Rose) is the obvious guy to go with. G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) shows some signs, as well. I’d love to lead that group because that’s a very strong group.

“I’m leaving out all kinds of names like Donaldson and Willett. The thing about being away from the European Tour, I’ve actually watched a lot more of it, and it looks like it’s in a good place. We’ve got a lot of British players coming through. But it’s nice to be kind of near the top of the list again.”

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Casey, who went through a couple of injuries as well as a divorce, is now happily married again and became a father last year. He said one of the real key of his recent success was the happiness he found outside the golf course.

“I think it’s been key. This year, I’ve probably done the least amount of practice I’ve ever done in my professional career. However, if you look at it in terms of time, the quality of practice has probably been better than it’s ever been,” said Casey.

“I’m very disciplined and I know what I’m working on. So having that fun time away from the golf course with them, I think I’ve just got a great balance of enjoying myself on the golf course and enjoying it off right now. I think I’ve also got something more to play for right now. There’s a college fund I’ve got to pay.”

Casey, who says he has given up snowboarding after his accident a couple of years ago when he broke a couple of ribs, said his near misses this year has made him even more hungry for success.

“I also feel kind of slightly unfulfilled that I’ve had a couple of chances and I’m very hungry,” said Casey.

“If anything I’m hungrier than I was at the beginning of the year because it was almost like, let’s get this going, let’s get in the majors, let’s get in the WGCs. Now that I’ve knocked on the door and not opened it, I’m pretty focused this week. I’m not here just to make up the numbers this week.

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