Paul Casey returns to action in the BMW PGA Championship this week where he could take a giant stride towards fulfilling his ambition of returning to the European Ryder Cup team.
The world No 10 made the last of his three Ryder Cup appearances back in 2008 but rejoined the European Tour last October – after a three-year absence – with the aim of earning a place in Thomas Bjorn’s line-up at Le Golf National.
Casey currently sits 10th on the world points list in the qualifying rankings and down in 43rd on the European points list, but a victory at Wentworth on Sunday will see him soar up those tables.
He was forced to withdraw from The Players Championship earlier this month with a back injury but, despite a lack of preparation, he is looking forward to playing at a venue where he has won twice before – the World Match Play Championship in 2006 and the BMW PGA Championship in 2009.
“[The Ryder Cup] is always motivation,” he said. “It’s always one of the big goals that I’ve written down, but it’s compartmentalisation.
“It’s taking care of this week. It’s taking care of every single week, and that’s the by-product; making the team is the by-product of doing my job correctly, doing my job well.
“Having played in a few and having tried to qualify for many, I’m acutely aware of how to do it and how not to do it, and the years I did it well were the years I didn’t focus on the outcome and focused on every week, trying to play well and win.
“Early in that process, when I got obsessed about it – and even at my age, it’s still such a big deal, having played them.
“It’s why I’m doing this. I want to be on that team. I want to contribute to Europe and win that cup back, plain and simple, and I believe I can be a big part of that.”
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At 40, Casey is the same age as one of Bjorn’s vice-captains, Luke Donald, and two years older than another, Graeme McDowell, but he insists he has no captaincy ambitions at this stage and is just focused on making the team.
“What happens in one particular week in May is not going to sway Thomas’s mind before September, but it certainly helps,” he added. “Only weird thing about yesterday (Tuesday) is getting assistant captains who are the same age as me.
“[The captaincy] is not something I’ve ever really thought about. There’s a lot of candidates. It’s going to be interesting. But we’ve got other things to worry about before that happens.”
Casey is scheduled to tee off at 12.40pm in the first round on Thursday, and was due to practice after his press conference for the first time since last Friday after getting his back checked out on Tuesday.
“I think I’m in a really good spot, but I haven’t hit any golf balls,” he said. “So last time I hit golf balls was last Friday and there was still pain on Friday but we’ve done a lot since then.
“No disc issue. No other issues whatsoever. It’s just purely inflammation. And there was no trauma, nothing that caused it.
“So I’m not worried. Bjorn looked worried yesterday but there’s no worry. It’s just frustration, that’s all it is, which is why I am excited and, touch wood, go hit some golf balls after we’re finished here and there’s no pain and we just crack on and get on with it.”