It takes a lot to rattle the Englishman these days...
Paul Casey: “Only Time I Get Nervous Is First Tee Of Ryder Cup”
Although desperate to end his drought, Paul Casey admits he no longer feels the pressure of major championship golf.
The game’s four marquee events have struck fear into some of the biggest names over the years, but for Casey, now an experienced campaigner having turned pro in 2000 and picked up wins all over the world, the first tee brings a different emotion.
“My nerves are, they’re still there, but not a lot anymore having played as many majors as I have,” the Englishman said.
“Now it’s more excitement. I mean, there was a time when I was extremely nervous teeing it up, to the point where it affected my performance, and now honestly, I couldn’t be more excited to play.
“I feel — the desire is still there. I haven’t won one [a major]. I desperately want to, but I don’t feel like that’s adding pressure. I just feel excitement every time. It’s like an opportunity.
“And I think more so what’s been interesting the last couple of years with this whole pandemic and having fans away, the fans being back, I love it. I missed it.
“So standing on this first tee, even today we had a chuckle. Poulter wanted to tee off. Abe was up but Poulter was on the tee about to put the tee in the ground and we just have a laugh.
“It’s not like it used to be. The nerves are not a thing.”
But nobody is completely immune and there is one event in the world of golf that still gets the hairs standing to attention.
He added: “The only time I feel like I get really nervous now is the first tee of the Ryder Cup.”
The 43-year-old is playing in his 18th Open Championship and 70th major this week and is arguably playing some of the best golf of his career.
A beacon of consistency, the Englishman, who hasn’t ranked outside the top 30 in the world for more than six years, outlined his Open credentials on Thursday morning at Royal St George’s, compiling a bogey-free 68 (-2).
One of the big talking points ahead of the opening day’s play was the ferocious rough lining the fairways, and after getting a feel for the championship challenge facing the players, Casey is in no doubt as to what he’ll need to do well to leave Sandwich with the Claret Jug.
“The key is you have to drive it well. The greens are pretty slow, so that takes out the — I think that mutes any sort of really big advantage on the green if somebody is a brilliant putter versus a guy who is maybe average.
“The trouble around the greens and on the fairways is just so penal that, again, if you’re a magician I’m not sure you can show off your skills and elevate yourself into a much better position than a guy who is average, but you will get found out if you don’t drive it well because you just cannot get it round in golf course bogey-free if it you don’t.
“There is a lot of crosswinds. This is a course which is always sort of turning, so you rarely get the same wind twice. In fact, I think we only played two or three holes today actually downwind. Everything seemed to be sort of a slight angle.
“Yeah, tee shots, a guy who has basically the ball on a string, drives it well, that’s the horse to back this week.”