A week after injury forced him to give up a U.S. Open place to Chinese teenager Andy Zhang, England’s Paul Casey returns to competition in Germany setting his sights firmly on qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team.
And if Casey is unsuccessul in qualifying automatically for the European Team, he’s hinted he would dearly love to be considered as a possible vice-captain.
This week’s BMW International Open is only Casey’s sixth Tour event this season after he dislocated his right shoulder in a snow-boarding accident in January.
The injury forced Casey from the defence of his Volvo Champions title in South Africa and while he contested April’s Masters, the injury flared prior to the U.S. Open forcing Casey to withdraw.
“I spent last week watching the TV coverage and in the early rounds I was pulling for ‘Westy’ (Lee Westwood) and really wanted him to win,” said Casey.
“And while I dearly wanted to be there the coverage wasn’t all that riveting I like watching players make birdies and we didn’t see that very much last week.
“But then there was this guy singing out ‘mash potatoes’ all the time, so what was that all about? (laughing)
“Though the funny thing is when you watch the Masters the guys are shooting somewhere between eagle and bogey whereas last week at the U.S. Open is like the guys were shooting between par and double bogey.”
The now World No. 60th ranked Casey is competing in Cologne for a first time in seven years after finishing in a share of seventh in the 2005 Linde German Masters won by South African Retief Goosen.
Casey was third in the same event in 2002 behind Australia’s Stephen Leaney.
“I played the final round alongside Stephen Leaney and ‘Big Stevie’ was his caddy, and ‘Big Stevie’ said to me that I was very gracious in defeat,” smiled Casey.
“But it’s nice to be back and I’m looking forward to making many birdies unlike the guys last week in the States.
“The shoulder is great and I’ve done all I can do recovery-wise and all I need to do it go get my golf game back.
“So I just need to play. I am playing here and in the French Open and depending on how well I play in those two events I may throw in the Scottish Open.
“It was tough not to play last week and it’s always tough not playing in the Majors but then I’ve only missed two or three.
“If you play at this level for 20 years that’s 80 Majors in your career but then I hurt my ribs in 2009 and had to miss the U.S. PGA Championship that year.
“But then if I can only miss two Majors in my career through injury then that’s not too bad because you look at Tiger (Woods) and he’s had to miss a few through injury.”
And now that Casey is looking forward to playing a full schedule from here to the end of the year, the 33-year old also has not ruled out making the European Ryder Cup team after having been overlooking in 2010 for a ‘Captain’s pick’.
“It’s going to be a case of winning golf tournaments and that’s all I will focus on, and I refuse to focus on the alternative,” said Casey lying 30th on the European Team qualifying table.
“So that’s the goal over these next three months or so, and that’s to make sure I qualify for Jose Maria’s (Olazabal) side”
And if Casey does not qualify for the team and is not chosen as a ‘captain’s pick’ he feel he has enough to offer from three Ryder Cups to be considered a vice-captain under Olazabal,
“No, I’ve not been asked that and yeah, I want to be there but I want to be there firstly as a player,” he said.
“But yeah, I would also want to be there. That’s not my decision but I would throw it out there and I would talk to him (Jose Maria Olazabal) bout it.
“Right now that’s not the conversation we’ve had and I’m not about to go up to him and say that.”
Organisers have drawn Casey to play the opening two rounds on the Gut Larcenhof course with double U.S. Open winner, Retief Goosen and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn.