Following a torrid 2010 that saw him finish in sixth place in the FedEx Cup and post seven top-15 finishes in his final 10 events, Casey's game went in the tank this season. He failed to post a top-10 on tour and missed four cuts in his last seven events, his best finish a T-45 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
For a guy in the prime of his career with 12 worldwide victories, the sudden drop-off was very unexpected -- which is exactly why most figured Casey was dealing with some sort of nagging injury.
Casey confirmed recently that he'd been dealing with a toe injury that had made hitting his driver and woods nearly impossible over the last few months. It's a surprise Casey managed to make it this far into the season without shutting it down, to be honest.
"I can't put any pressure down into the ground from the right foot and sort of the transition where right foot should roll to the left side and up on to the toe, I can't do that," Casey said. "So I kind of sort of flinch at the ball, right foot and the right sort of knee as a very sharp movement now sort of out."
It was the sort of injury that made you believe Casey -- currently ranked 147th in the FedEx Cup rankings -- wouldn't be around for the start of the playoffs. But with a little bit of rest Casey, and his game, showed up in the opening round of the Wyndham Championship.
His 5-under 65, his lowest round to date this year, has him two shots off the lead and currently inside the top 125 cutoff for the first event of the FedEx Cup. Casey continues to say that rest is the best medicine, but when you're fighting for the next event, sometimes you have to push through the pain.
With rest between rounds, anti-inflammatory medication and shorter range sessions, Casey is doing his best stay in contention. It's so far so good after day one, but it remains to be seen if his game and his health will hang around for the rest of the week.
- Paul Casey