Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Paul Casey was contrite at the Nissan Open and said he wanted to enjoy golf again. Then he went out and missed the cut.
Since making controversial remarks about Americans in November, including comments calling them “stupid,” accusing them of “not knowing what’s going on,” and stating that “we properly hate them,” Casey has spent the past three months wondering just how to proceed in the damage-control department.
It didn’t help his cause when the tabloid Mirror in London stripped the headline, “ ‘AMERICANS ARE STUPID. I HATE THEM’ SAYS RYDER CUP STAR PAUL CASEY.”
“The headline was the thing that crushed me,” Casey said. “The editor did his job and got that story noticed.”
So on Feb. 16, one day before the Nissan Open, his first 2005 start on the U.S. mainland, Casey did his best to explain remarks he has come to regret.
“I just put my foot in my mouth,” said Casey, 27, an Englishman and a former star at Arizona State. “I’m trying to put this behind me and move on. All I can do is apologize to anybody I’ve hurt and carry on.”
Casey, 27, said he wants his “clubs to do the talking,” but they didn’t speak much at Nissan, where he shot 74-74 and missed the cut at the rain-marred event. Casey also missed the cut in his only other Tour start of 2005, the Sony Open in Hawaii. He has been suffering from a tight back and is hoping the controversy his comments sparked fades away.
“I’ve just got to concentrate on golf,” Casey said. “Simple as that. (The first round) was the first full 18 holes I played in a month. I didn’t even play a practice round.”
For a month, Casey, under the advice of Peter Kostis, the CBS analyst who is his swing coach, just sat and waited until he could play again – missing a couple of events, including the Phoenix Open, not far from his U.S. residence.
“The whole thing has been stressful,” Casey said. “I talked with a sports psychologist (about) how to deal with that, but also how to get back to enjoying, and looking forward to playing golf again.
“I am definitely sorry if I offended anybody or hurt anybody with what was said. I felt like I didn’t properly explain myself, and maybe some of those comments were taken out of context, and maybe I shouldn’t have said them.”
Paul Azinger believes that the talented Casey will be all right eventually, but has little sympathy for a controversy he brought on himself.
“The only life it really affected is his own,” Azinger said.“His opinion has affected his own life.”
“(The) ‘I hate Americans’ thing is really, I think, a result of being so wrapped up in the Ryder Cup and World Cup and that kind of ‘got to kick their butt’ mentality,” Azinger said of Casey’s comments. “And that’s understandable. And ‘I hate them that week,’ that’s fine. But I think when he crossed the line is when he said, ‘I think that they’re stupid.’ That’s when it kind of caught everybody’s attention. What do you mean? You hate Americans? Are American golfers stupid? What is he talking about? So I think that was kind of the big question for the players.”
After initially receiving the cold shoulder from several players at the Sony Open, by and large the PGA Tour community has moved on. But in Los Angeles, Casey heard comments from fans – something he knows he will have to get used to.
“I am trying to go back to playing golf, trying to put this behind me and move on,” Casey said.
– Jeff Rude contributed