Casey dusts himself off with Bahrain win

Paul Casey of England holes the winning putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 2011 Volvo Golf Champions at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain.

There was a sweet irony about Paul Casey’s victory in the Volvo Golf Champions. The win came on the Colin Montgomerie-designed Royal Course, just five months after Montgomerie snubbed Casey for a Ryder Cup captain’s pick.

Casey controversially was left off the last European Ryder Cup team, even though many thought Montgomerie should have handed him one of his three picks. Monty’s men won while Casey got on his bike and took a cycling trip through the Canadian Rockies.

The Englishman has put the whole episode behind him, and is now looking to the future. However, had he racked up a few more victories like the one in Bahrain, then he wouldn’t have needed Montgomerie’s largess.

Casey’s focus is on more pressing matters this year. He is hoping the Bahrain victory will help him in his quest for major silverware.

The former Arizona State player already has had a sniff of major-championship glory. He has five top-10s in the tournaments that really count, including third in last year’s Open Championship.

Victory in Bahrain ended 20 months without a win. No wonder he called his head-to-head battle with Sweden’s Peter Hanson “one of the toughest battles I've ever had.”

Casey moved into the world top six with the victory. He has been as high as third. He reached that dizzying height in July 2009, but tore a rib muscle that month while practicing for the Open Championship. Many think that if not for that injury, he would have been assured a spot on last year’s Ryder Cup team.

The Englishman began the Bahrain trip at No. 9 in the world, and the highest-ranked player in the field.

“It feels fantastic,” Casey said. “The most important thing to me is winning, and that was huge. The goal is obviously the majors, but how are you going to win major championships if you can't win regular events?”

Casey has been talked about as a potential major winner since he set records in college golf at Arizona State. Along with Luke Donald and Justin Rose, Casey has long been looked at as one of the players to carry on Europe’s heroics in the majors.

However, he has been passed by the likes of Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, all now members of the major club. Yet one thing the Englishman isn’t short on is confidence.

After finishing behind Louis Oosthuizen at St. Andrews last year, Casey confidently predicted: “I’m going to win a major; it’s just a matter of time.”

Casey’s time could be now.

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