SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Paul Casey isn’t far behind Jon Rahm as the most jacked up European Ryder Cup player. The Spaniard seems to be floating 6 feet off the ground in anticipation of his rookie appearance. Casey’s floating just 6 inches below him.
The Englishman makes his first appearance in the biennial match since losing at Valhalla in 2008. Ten years on the outside looking in has heightened his appreciation of being part of this European team.
“To be sitting here now is very satisfying, very enjoyable,” Casey said. “It was obviously the goal to make the team, and the goal now is to win points, which I believe I can do. I’m super excited for this week.
“It’s very special, I think I’ve got more of an appreciation this time around. I’ve taken notes this week and tried to really pay attention to how special this is.”
Given Casey’s standing in European golf, it seems bizarre he’s only making his fourth Ryder Cup appearance. Casey arguably should have played in the 2010 match at Celtic Manor, Wales. Casey anticipated a captain’s pick from Colin Montgomerie along with Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington, but lost out to Edoardo Molinari because the Italian won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, the last counting event for European selection.
Casey wasn’t impressed by the decision, especially since he was playing with Harrington in the final round of the PGA Tour’s Barclays Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey and found out Harrington had been picked and he hadn’t. Casey was close to tears.
“After I missed out in 2010, and 2012 and 2014 where I struggled with my game, those were probably the times when I wondered, and hoped, if I would play another one.”
Casey gave up his European Tour membership for three years between 2015 and 2017, and only re-joined the tour at the end of last season to make this year’s team, a decision European captain Thomas Bjorn helped influence.
No wonder he’s determined to make up for lost time, so determined he’s even taking notes.
“I’ve tried to really pay attention to how special this is,” Casey said. “I don’t have a diary, but just standing back and making sure I absorb this.
“Ryder Cups in the past have gone so quickly, and I just want to make sure I remember this. At 41, I don’t know how many opportunities I’m going to get to play another European-based Ryder Cup. I don’t want this to be my last European-based Ryder Cup, but plain and simple, at 41, it’s got a chance that it is.”
Casey should be back in the European lineup for the 2020 match at Whistling Straits, but he’ll be 45 when the match goes to Rome in 2022. This could be his final chance to play a Ryder Cup on European soil. Maybe that’s why he’s so determined to attack the golf course this week.
With Le Golf National’s narrow fairways and punishing rough, the expectation is for players to hit lots of irons off tees and very few drivers. Not Casey. He indicated he could put the longest club into play on at least seven occasions.
“It’s all or nothing this week,” he said. “It depends on the situation but with it being match play, I can probably go with driver more often.”
Don’t expect Rahm to hold back either. Considering how ramped up they both are, Bjorn might be advised to pair them together. All he’d have to do is light the touch paper and let them go.