Paul Casey leaves Shanghai still smarting from his turf toe, but is making progress toward a complete recovery.
With a front-nine, 5-under 31, Casey was making a charge in the final round, but could manage only an even-par finish on the back to tie for fourth with Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy. It was Casey’s best finish in a WGC event since his runner-up at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in 2010.
“Went back to the bad habits I’ve had this year with the right foot coming up, and I just couldn’t control it on the back nine,” Casey said of the awkward swing that occurs when his right toe is ailing. “I did an unbelievable job of grinding it out and saving pars on the back nine. Just annoyed I couldn’t continue the golf I had on the front.”
Casey has been battling turf toe since May. He said rest is the only real cure, so the Englishman is planning on taking three weeks off to rest his foot before the press toward the Race to Dubai.
“Got three weeks off, which is a pretty good rest,” Casey said. “I’m really going to rest it. I probably won’t play golf for two weeks.”
• Impressive turnaround: Just one week ago, Graeme McDowell flew from Spain to China after what he termed “one of the more embarrassing weekends I’ve ever had in my golf career.” What a difference a week makes, as McDowell shot 16 under to finish third in the WGC-HSBC Champions and build confidence for his run toward the Race to Dubai.
“It’s a horrible game sometimes, and you have to stick with it and believe in yourself,” McDowell said after a bogey-free 67. “I had a lot more belief in myself this week. Last weekend was just a blip in the radar.”
With five more weeks in his season, McDowell can take only positives away from his performance that included 22 birdies, including 10 during a bogey-free weekend.
“This will give me a bit of mojo hopefully going into next week,” McDowell said. “And I’ve got a lot of great golf ahead of me and just very happy with my general play this week. So you know, bring on Singapore. “
• Rankings movement: After a final-round collapse of 74 – including a front-nine 40 – Lee Westwood lost his No. 2 ranking to Rory McIlroy on Sunday. McIlroy, who was only 0.12519 points behind Westwood entering the Shanghai event, used his T-4 finish with Schwartzel and Casey to earn enough points to move into second on the Official World Golf Ranking.
McIlroy started the year No. 12 in the rankings, but his victory at the U.S. Open at Congressional moved the 22-year-old Northern Irishman into the No. 4 spot. Since winning his first major, McIlroy has moved between sixth and third, but for the past eight weeks has been on Westwood’s heels in third position.
McIlroy will take two weeks off before his final push for the Race to Dubai – going on vacation in an undisclosed location.
“Mentally, I feel fine,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I’m looking forward to these two weeks off, but I feel like this little stretch has been very good. “
• Big decision: Fredrick Jacobson hasn’t decided when he is going to take up European Tour membership for 2012, but with his second-place performance in Shanghai, he should be able to decide quickly.
Jacobson moved from 115th to 31st on the European Tour’s Order of Merit and sixth on the Ryder Cup points list. With the top 60 eligible for the Race to Dubai event, the Swede could earn valuable points toward the Ryder Cup.
Since he earned enough money this week in Shanghai to get his card on the European Tour for 2012, all Jacobson needs to do is declare before his first European Tour event that he is joining the tour. Because he is likely to be in the WGC-Accenture World Match Play, the latest Jacobson could make that decision would be late February.
“I haven’t decided yet on the schedule for next year exactly,” Jacobson said this week. “I think it’s going to depend a little bit on how I play. I’ve done the part that I’ve locked up most of the majors – at least the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open for next year, and the Doral tournament . . . probably looking good for the Match Play. All of those tournaments count on both lists, as well as this week. I’m starting to get into a lot of the tournaments where I can create points both on the European list and when it comes to world-ranking points. “
• Short shots: With his victory in Shanghai, Martin Kaymer moved to No. 4 in the world. . . . Hunter Mahan’s seventh-place finish came with caddie John Wood out for the week with a bad ankle. . . . Defending champion Francesco Molinari played through tendinitis in his right wrist, which almost caused him to withdraw earlier in the week. . . . Bobby Gates had food poisoning on Sunday and WD’d on the back nine. . . . Mahan was the only American to finish in the top 10, which included six Europeans (five in the top 5), two South Africans and one Venezuelan.