By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The 2011 season has hardly been what Paul Casey had hoped. It's August, after all, and the affable Englishman, who has won 12 times around the world. is still looking for his first top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR.
Casey is off to a great start at the Wyndham Championship, though, after a round of 65 lifted him within two strokes of Jeff Quinney's lead. And if he continues to play well, Casey might play his way into the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
"I'd love to be part of that," said Casey, who ranks 147th in the standings and needs to move into the top 125. "I don't need to get too far ahead, don't need to start thinking about that on a Thursday. For me it's focusing on today and I did a very good job of that, actually."
Casey, who battled a nagging rib injury two years ago, has been bothered by a swollen joint in the big toe on his right foot this year. He first noticed it in May and actually thought he'd been bitten by a spider or "some creepy crawly." But when it persisted, Casey began to wonder whether it was a fracture so he went through a series of tests, including x-rays and even blood tests for gout.
An MRI finally revealed that Casey had a case of what is commonly known as turf toe. In retrospect, Casey admits he probably should have rested the toe but instead he's played through the injury. The toe is strapped up and he's taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
The injury has had quite an affect on Casey's swing. He started to put more weight on his heels and he can't fire off his right foot very well. The pain has forced other alterations, as well.
"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. The best way to
describe it, the right knee should move towards the left knee but
mine doesn't, sort of wants to move straight out to take the
pressure off that right foot.
"It results in making it almost impossible to hit longer clubs, especially drivers and 3-woods. I mean it's sort of in a very stuck position coming into the golf ball. I've been sort of flicking at it, try to control it. You can't do it with high clubhead speed."
In the last two weeks, though, Casey has felt better, and Thursday's performance was another building block.
"Rest is the thing I should be doing the most which is why I won't hit any golf balls this afternoon, straight back to the hotel," he said. "… I'm excited about it and I'd love to play next week and that's the goal and try and win this week and, if I don't, I get a nice rest period. The rest of the year could salvage what has been a very disappointing season so far."
Ever play in a charity scramble where you get a free throw of your golf ball? Well, that wasn’t exactly on the rules sheet for Monday’s Telus Skins Game in Alberta, Canada, but avid cricket player Paul Casey saw a 132-yard par-3 and could only think of one thing.
“I played a lot of cricket growing up and I am good at throwing balls … it just looked like the perfect yardage and I thought ‘why not,’” Casey told The Canadian Press.
Playing in a group with Jhonattan Vegas, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim and Canadian Stephen Ames, Casey figured he’d make things interesting with the throw – which sailed over a pond and landed on the green, some 30 feet from the hole. He then hit a wedge which landed closer to the pin, but spun into the rough.
“I was a little disappointed I didn't get the wedge shot closer than my throw,” he said.
He had hoped to get his partners to bet him on whether he could throw the ball on the green – and his partners wisely declined. In the official action, Jhonattan Vegas was the big winner with $55,000 won on the first nine holes of competition.
The event raised $28,000 for charity on the first of two days of play, which concludes Tuesday.
IN POSITION: Two players in the field this week at the RBC Canadian Open have an opportunity to move atop the FedExCup standings with a victory. Luke Donald (currently 6th) and Matt Kuchar (No. 8) are both within striking distance of FedExCup leader Nick Watney.
NEEDING A MOVE: Of the 31 players ranked between 110th and 140th in the FedExCup standings, 20 will be playing this week at Shaughnessy. Spots in the top 125 will be there for the taking with four players ranked between 121st and 125th not playing this week. Stephen Ames, playing in his homeland, 2010 regular season points leader Ernie Els and 126th-ranked Steven Bowditch are among those within 75 points of the top 125 with a chance to move up this week. More on the Playoffs bubble
CROSSING THE LINE: There was just one change to the top 125 last week. George McNeill, who tied for 2nd at the Viking Classic, moved from 132nd to 92nd. Falling back was Zack Miller, who dropped from 124th to 127th.
WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN? McNeill’s 40 position leap was the second biggest of the week but 10 spots shy of the 50-position move from Tom Pernice Jr., who went from 212th to 50th after a T2 at Annandale. Anthony Kim moved inside the top 100, to 85th, after a top 10 at the British Open. Camilo Villegas, down seven spots to 114th, is among the players who fell furthest last week. More movers
NEW ARRIVALS: Nine players earned their first FedExCup points of 2011 last week during the dual tournaments at Royal St. George’s and Annandale. Tom Watson posted a T22 finish at the British Open and debuts at 214th in the FedExCup standings while Peter Lonard tied for 9th at the Viking Classic to reach 221st.
A YEAR OF CHANGE: If the season were to end today, two of the 30 players in last year’s TOUR Championship (Paul Casey and Ernie Els) would miss out on the Playoffs altogether. Interestingly, Els and Casey will be playing in the same group during Rounds 1 and 2 this week. A total of 34 of the top 125 in the FedExCup standings were not in the Playoffs a year ago, highlighted by former leader and current No. 7 Mark Wilson, who has won twice in 2011.
MORE ON LAST WEEK’S WINNER: Chris Kirk became the fifth rookie to win on TOUR in 2011 with his victory at the Viking Classic. Kirk, who was the No. 2 graduate on the Nationwide Tour last year, is currently second in the Rookie Rankings behind Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Kirk has four top 10s on the year including his win and a tie for second behind Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open.
BETHESDA, Md. -- The second round is starting to wind down -- bad weather held up play for just over 40 minutes earlier in the day -- and still no one has been able to come close to catching leader Rory McIlroy and his 11-under total.
Y.E. Yang had the best chance, but as he finishes up on the 18th he’s still six shots back.
Others in contention -- if you could being nine shots back in contention -- include Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar, among others. They’re tied for third at the moment but as mentioned are well back.
At the other end of the board, a number of notables are fighting to make the cut or are already outside it.
The cut is at 4 over. Among those on the wrong side of that number are Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey and Nick Watney, to name a few.
Meawhile, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and Anthony Kim are all right on the number as they finish their rounds. Stay tuned.
Nike has provided a preview of what some of their players will be wearing this week for the U.S. Open. Here’s a look at the clothes Anthony Kim, Paul Casey, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink are expected to wear for each of the four rounds (should each make the cut, of course) at Congressional.
Paul Casey is right where he started the opening round ... at 7 under. And the 18th hole was a good example why.
Casey bombed his drive on the par-4 18th and stuck his approach to 12 feet, but he missed the putt. That par wrapped up a 71 that included 32 putts. He had only 28 in Round 1.
Paul Casey's bid for the 36-hole lead has experienced a couple of rough patches -- mainly, bogeys on the par-5 first hole (the easiest hole on the course) and another bogey on the par-4 seventh.
As of now, Garrett Willis' 9 under is looking good for the 36-hole lead. There is a slew of players on the course at 6 under (including Casey), but the course is toughing up slightly as the sun bears down on Copperhead's greens.
Is this the same course that Sean O'Hair won with a 4-under total over four rounds in 2008? Due to no wind and perfect weather conditions, players are finding the Copperhead Course downright scoreable, if that's a word (probably not).
Midway through the second round, the field is averaging 70.566 on the par-71 layout. The field averaged 70.819 in Round 1, and the scores were actually dropping in the afternoon.
The tournament record of 18-under 266, set by Vijay Singh during his epochal 2004 season, still appears to be safe ... unless Round 1 leader Paul Casey goes ultra-low again. Given the perfect conditions, it's a real possibility.
Paul Casey's 64 has been the score to beat all day in the opener of the Transitions Championship, but he didn't talk all golf on the day of the NCAA Opener and St. Patrick's Day.
On wearing green during his round: "The brighter
the green, the more luck you've got."
On why he returned to play Copperhead: "A golf course I had only been to once, but what I remembered, you know, tough ball-striker's golf course, very different from a lot of the Florida golf courses that I have played before. And got a brilliant field, as well, so there's going to be good World Ranking points."
On his Friday clothing plans: "Yeah, maybe I'll wear green again."
ON celebrating St. Patrick's Day: "No green beer. I like my beer, but not tonight."
On his NCAA bracket: "I did some for somebody. I've got no clue. I think I had Ohio State winning it. But I'm clueless."