Written by
Joy Chakravarty, LIV Golf Correspondent
Feb 29 2024
- 5 MIN
Casey upbeat for Crushers GC

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – A fit, rejuvenated, and reinvigorated Paul Casey is eager to make his early-season form count and win his first individual title on LIV Golf.

The 46-year-old Crushers GC member was part of the 2023 LIV Golf Team Championship winning quartet, but recurrent injuries led to a withdrawal earlier from the Washington D.C. tournament, and he did not have a single top-20 finish after his fourth place start to the season at Mayakoba.

The root of his problem was a turf toe that he suffered years ago. That injury to the metatarsophalangeal joint, which gets extended during a golf swing, led to a knock-on effect in other parts of his body, including his ankle, hip and the back.

Casey needed to manage the injury and played through pain for the entire season, and credits the “real” off-season he got after the Team Championship in helping him overcome it.

“I just couldn’t get the body to recover for whatever reason and just get the inflammation or get the pain out,” said the Englishman.

“I got through the season and was happy for the Crushers. I then had, for the first time since turning professional, a proper offseason and you’re seeing the results already. I played well in Mayakoba and in Vegas. I feel like I am back. The foot still hurts, it’s bone over bone, and I may have to undergo surgery on it one day.

“But the offseason was amazing. We had a great holiday over Christmas, went to Lapland in Finland with the family, got to see reindeer, and also ate some. I got the time needed to calm everything down. And then started working hard on the game in January.

“I am feeling good and energized and ready to work. I still have a few things to work on with my golf game, but I’m very much trending in the right direction. I really want to win an event individually. It may sound selfish, but it’s fine to be selfish because it would be good for the team as well.”

Casey has tried to obliterate the 2023 season from his memory, but there was one round he was immensely proud of – a 1-over on Sunday of the Team Championship in Miami.

“I battled so hard through the season. One of the toughest rounds of golf that I’ve genuinely played ever, was that last day in Miami with all the scores counting towards the team. I played really good on Saturday to beat Richard Bland, but it wasn’t happening for me on Sunday,” said the three-time PGA Tour winner, who reached a career-high of No.3 in the world ranking.

“Baan (Lahiri) played some amazing golf that day, Chucky (Howell) played great and Bryson (DeChambeau) was all over the golf course and still played great. With every score counting and Bubba (Watson) making birdies down the stretch, I was so proud of the fact I shot 1-over. It really felt like one of the best 1-over of my career.”

Casey has a great record playing in the Middle East and on desert courses. He is a twice winner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and also won the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. He has a couple of top-5s at Royal Greens here, and practices out in Arizona in the US.

“This is a very strong golf course. It’s a ball strikers golf course. Because of the architecture, there can be some holes that play pretty long. The wind can blow. You’ve just got to have good contact, good ball-striking, good spin control and good trajectory control. No wonder someone like Brooks (Koepka) is a champion round here,” said Casey.

“But, yeah, I have had good results here. It’s a course you almost know what you’re going to have to do depending on the wind conditions. I can sit at home in Arizona, or be on a plane over some ocean and I know the shots I’m going to have to hit before I arrive. That’s something I kind of like. You can get yourself ready. I’ve already thought about those shots and I have a warm, fuzzy feeling.”

Crushers GC does not have happy memories from LIV Golf Jeddah last year. They were leading the team championship going into the final round and Captain DeChambeau was in the hunt to become the Champion Player of the Year. Quite astonishingly, Sunday proved to be an off day for all members of the most consistent teams in the competition.

“I don't know why. We’ve been such a good team. I’ve said this before, but you’ve got two Americans, an Englishman and an Indian. It sounds like the beginning of a silly joke, but it does work. We all care deeply about the Crushers and we’re all heavily invested in it,” said Casey.

“The first year, we lost to the Stingers in the Team Championship semi-finals, and we felt like we absolutely wanted that win last year and we got it.

“We’ve not even talked about this year. We're just going through the start right now. I don’t think the guys have felt like they’ve even scratched the surface yet and we already have a second place. It just shows we are damn good, and I won’t be surprised if we win here this week.”