Europe has more reason to cheer for Paul Casey here this week than simply ensuring the Claret Jug remains on this side of the pond. The Englishman has promised Thomas Bjorn, the Ryder Cup captain, that should he win here this week, he will make himself eligible for next year’s match in Paris.
Casey has not been a member of the European Tour since 2014 when he decided to focus solely on the PGA Tour. He called it the “most difficult decision in my career” as he knew that it ruled him out of playing in the biennial match. But he was determined to climb the rankings, at the same time as starting a new family with the TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward. The move paid off. He is back in the world’s top 20 and he and his wife are expecting their second child.
Casey has spoken to Bjorn and promised that should he get into the position where he feels his status in the rankings and on the US circuit is untouchable, then he will sign up again to his “home Tour”. Of course, a win here would confirm everything. “Who wouldn’t want Paul Casey on their team in the form he’s in?” Bjorn said.
Casey is many experts’ idea of the champion here this week, including Butch Harmon, the celebrated coach and Sky Sports analyst. Casey finished sixth at the Masters in April, with his worst result in his last seven starts being 26th at the US Open.
“I don’t think anybody has played more consistently this year Paul,” Harmon said. “He has played beautifully and he’s definitely capable of winning the Open.”
Casey, who turns 40 on Friday, is certainly relaxed. Earlier this month he a week in Italy on a cycling trek that covered 300 miles and 37,000 feet of climbing “It was really good stuff,” he said.
“Everyone was safe and no one crashed is the main thing,” he said. “You know what it does is, I come back from it feeling energized and really fit, but I feel like there is work to do There’s motivation, I’m excited to work. I’ve got half the year left. I’m probably the only guy my age who is genuinely excited about the rest of the year. It’s like a reset button.”
2017 Open Championship betting preview: A look at the course, key stats, main contenders and our EW betting tips