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August 18 2011

8:45 PM

Casey’s toe starting to improve

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.

Casey "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."

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