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Casey driven by desire to fulfil Ryder Cup dream

 

By Ed Malyon

Paul Casey has been down before. Down and out. And it was at one of his highs, sitting in the world's top 10 and coming off of three consecutive Ryder Cups, that Colin Montgomerie left him out of the Ryder Cup team and sent the Englishman into a tailspin and one of his lowest lows.

Casey walked away from the European tour, heading Stateside. He would no longer be eligible for the tournament that so many view as golf's competitive pinnacle, and has not played a European Tour event since.

But this year, with the sun setting on his career and nobody daring to doubt his quality, Casey has had a change of heart. The 40-year-old is returning to the European Tour with a spot on Thomas Bjorn's team for September's Ryder Cup in France at the front of his mind.

"I've got so many great experiences from Ryder Cups that I just want to try and make another one. Time is running out, the clock is ticking. At 40-years-old I know I've not got that many more opportunities," he said.

"This unit that (the Americans) have got, Jordan (Spieth), Rickie (Fowler), JT (Justin Thomas), Dustin (Johnson), what a unit. They're all great friends, amazing golfers, but I think the matches will be brilliant, that's one thing I can guarantee.

"I want to play a Ryder Cup, or at least make myself eligible, so my family can be there."

And the veteran hopes that old friend and playing partner Bjorn will have enough experience of watching Casey perform at the highest level to ensure he gets a ticket to the Ryder Cup.

"I've got a great history with Thomas since I've been on Tour, he really is going to be a great captain,'' he said. 'Thomas has been great along the way in assisting with the decision I made.''

And Casey already counts on the support of a raft of talented young Europeans, including compatriot Tommy Fleetwood, who has thrown his weight behind the former World No.3.

Fleetwood, a strong contender for Bjorn's team and a first Ryder Cup appearance, said: "You want your 12 strongest players and when that time comes around, if Paul is one of them, you don't want to miss out on that kind of figure and player, so it's important that he's come back."

• Golf's governing bodies are finally ready to address the game's distance problem after conceding their "line in the sand" has been crossed.

Advances in fitness and equipment technology have seen players hit the ball further and further, leading to golf courses being lengthened in an effort to continue to test the world's best.

In a Joint Statement of Principles issued in 2002, the R&A and USGA stated that "any further significant increases in hitting distances at the highest level are undesirable", while a report published by the same organisations in 2016 controversially stated that driving distance on four of the major golf tours increased by approximately one per cent between 2003 and 2015.

However, speaking ahead of the release of this year's report, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers admitted there had been a noticeable increase in distance across all tours, with 68 players currently averaging more than 300 yards off the tee on the PGA Tour this season.

"There has been a significant move up across all tours and we're looking at the longest average driving distance on record," Slumbers said.

"Both of those have caused us, as well as the USGA, serious concern."

Meanwhile, The 150th Open Championship will be played at St Andrews in 2021, tournament organisers have announced.

As expected, the Old Course will stage the game's oldest major championship for the 30th time from July 15-18.

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