Europe’s chances of regaining the Ryder Cup have been given a major boost by Paul Casey’s decision to rejoin the European Tour.
Casey has confirmed he will take up his European Tour membership at the start of next year after a three-year absence. He will make his first start in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, a tournament he has won twice (2007 and 2009). It will be his first European Tour start since the 2015 BMW Masters.
“As hard as it was trying to make it work three years ago – struggling with my game, dropping out of the top 50 – I have missed it (the European Tour) too much,” Casey said. “I have missed my contribution to English golf, British golf, my contribution to Europe.”
The 13-time European Tour winner gave up his membership after he dropped out of the Official World Golf Ranking top 50. That meant he struggled to play in the majors and World Golf Championships which count on both the PGA and European tours. He found it hard to play both, and opted to concentrate on the PGA Tour.
He and wife Pollyanna also had a son, Lex, in 2014, and Casey wanted to spend as much time as possible with his family.
“With Lex being born, I had a new priority, which was my family, plain and simple. So it was a selfish choice. But it’s always bothered me not being a member of the Tour.”
The 40-year-old is also taking up European Tour membership again so he can play in next year’s Ryder Cup match in Paris. Casey played on three straight European teams from 2004-2008, winning twice.
“My Ryder Cup experiences in the past have been the highlight of my career,” he said. “Obviously this puts me in line to hopefully, possibly, play another Ryder Cup, which I would dearly love to do.
“Thomas Bjorn has been a massive support. He’s assisted me in making the decision with his confidence in me and his backing of me and my game. He hasn’t crowded me or pressured me in any way. He’s just been there as an ear, which has been wonderful.”
European Ryder Cup captain Bjorn has done what previous captain Darren Clarke failed to do. The Northern Irishman tried to talk Casey into rejoining the Tour in time for last year’s match at Hazeltine. Clarke had six rookies on his team and badly needed Casey’s experience. Casey was ranked 13th in the world on the eve of last year’s match, the sixth-highest-ranked European.
The Englishman is still the sixth-best European with his current ranking of 15th. He could be a huge asset to Bjorn’s hopes of winning at Le Golf National in Paris next September.