Casey frustrated by missing 'edge'
Paul Casey said he's still hunting for the missing "edge" that put him among golf's elite after three years of injury problems, including a snowboarding accident, knocked his career sideways.
In 2009 a run of form, highlighted by winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the European Tour's most prestigious tournament outside the majors, propelled the Englishman to career-high ranking of world No 3.
His next target was a first major title, but a week before the Open Championship at Turnberry in Scotland he felt a pain his rib.
Despite a strained muscle, he battled through to finish tied 47th, but it was the beginning of a horrendous run in which injury has disrupted every season.
His comeback in 2010 was hit by a right foot problem. And then, in late December last year, came potentially the most serious injury of all, a dislocated shoulder in a snowboarding accident.
"That's three injuries now, so hopefully that's three strikes and we're done," he told AFP at Blackstone Golf Club in South Korea, where he was playing in last week's Ballantine's Championship.
Casey, 34, was solid if unspectacular during the four days of the Ballantine's, shooting a consistent sequence of 70-72-70-71 to finish at five under-par, 13 behind the winner Bernd Wiesberger.
Not bad, was his assessment, but he believes he can do a lot better once he manages to shake off the rust.
Casey is now ranked 45th in the world, a long way off his best. And he admitted that his comeback has been difficult.
His first complete round was at the beginning of March at the WGC Cadillac Championship in Florida, where he says he "wanted to come back and get going".
"It's been a bit weird because I just don't have my usual edge. Making some mistakes and the confidence is not quite where it should be," he said.
But he believes he can soon be climbing back up the rankings.
"It's just a question now of playing tournaments and getting that edge back.
"I can still have a great year. There's a lot of season left. Three majors.
"Wouldn't it be great to look back at the end of this year and go, like, well you got three wins, another win in the US... And to think you dislocated your shoulder in December, you silly idiot."
Considering the pain when heard his shoulder tore on the slopes, he realises his situation could be a lot worse.
"I heard that slightly horrible sound of something tearing. It's a weird sort of squelchy noise. The initial thought was I've just tweaked something or it's a little tear," he said.
"Ten seconds later I go to raise my right arm and I can't move it. And I'm, like: 'Oh no, what have I done?'
"So then we're heading back down the mountain and I'm suddenly in excruciating pain and I can't move the right arm whatsoever."
Surgery would have put him out for six months, but luckily it proved unnecessary.
Instead, he underwent intensive physio back in Arizona with Dave Edwards, the head physiotherapist with the Diamondbacks Major League Baseball team.
"He's rehabbed dozens of shoulders. He was great and yeah, we did it quick. Just a couple of months," Casey said.
Casey appeared in remarkably good spirits and hopes he can now put the injuries behind him.
"There's no problems with the rib any more. The foot actually still hurts a little bit but it's not like it was last year," he said.
"It hurts walking and when it gets tired and then it can lead to, you know, some bad habits with the golf swing. But the shoulder's been absolutely fine."