US-based Englishman in talks to return to the fold
By Michael McEwan
Paul Casey is set to end his self-imposed exile from the European Tour in time for next season, making himself eligible to represent Europe in the 2018 Ryder in France.
English Club Golfer understands that the 40-year-old has had discussions with team captain Thomas Bjorn about taking up membership of the tour with a view to competing against the USA at Le Golf National near Paris next September.
A source close to the tour told us that Captain Bjorn has been in dialogue with Casey and that their conversations have been ‘productive’.
Casey, currently the highest ranked Englishman on the Official World Golf Ranking, has played in the Ryder Cup on three occasions – but not since 2008, when he was one of Sir Nick Faldo’s two picks for the defeat at Valhalla.
He was overlooked for a wild card for the 2010 match at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, despite being the current world No.8, with captain Colin Montgomerie instead choosing to give his wild cards to Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and rookie Edoardo Molinari.
Casey then failed to qualify for both the 2012 and 2014 matches, through a combination of injury and loss of form, and, in January 2015, he decided to relinquish his European Tour membership in order to focus solely on playing on the PGA Tour.
Describing the decision as ‘very tough’, Casey said: “For a long, long time now, I’ve been trying to play both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, and some years I’ve done it brilliantly, and other years I’ve failed miserably.
“I just didn’t want to keep putting myself in kind of a position where I’m struggling to fly around the world, play the numbers, keep my world ranking at a certain number.”
He subsequently went on to enjoy a spectacular season in 2015, earning almost $3.5m and finishing 13th on the FedEx Cup standings. That led to calls for him to re-join the European Tour and thereby make himself eligible for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
However, he stood his ground, saying: “With my wife and young son as my priority, I have decided to continue to concentrate on the PGA Tour which has worked well for us this past year as I have climbed back up the rankings.
“I am very sad not to have the chance to qualify for the 2016 European Ryder Cup team but I believe this decision will help me to be the best I can be both on and off the course and is the right decision for my family.”
He finished fifth on the FedEx Cup standings last year and has continued his good form into this season where, at the time of writing, he has recorded eight top tens, including a sixth-placed finish at the Masters.
Now, with his career firmly back on track, it appears as though he may be ready to return to his European Tour roots, with a view to helping captain Bjorn win back the Ryder Cup.
Our source told us: “Nobody at the European Tour wants a repeat of 2016, when two of the world’s top 20 golfers - Casey and Russell Knox - sat out the match. Thomas is particularly keen to make sure that he has all of his best players at his disposal and Casey is certainly one of those.”
The 2018 Ryder Cup takes place from September 28-30 at Le Golf National near Paris.