BRITISH hope Paul Casey has welcomed the return of Tiger Woods – but insists not even he can get in the way of his Masters dream.
Casey was one of the first golfers to catch up with Woods when the world No1 arrived at Augusta to end his five-month exile from the game.
“He made a beeline for me, I’m not sure why,” Casey explained. “It was fairly brief, very business-like from Tiger. He said hello. Smiled. He asked about the shoulder and health – and that was it. We chatted a little more but we got down to business and hit some golf balls.
“It was good to see him out there, it has been a while. We all have thoughts about his situation but personally, it’s none of my business. I have a golf event to prepare for – but it did catch me by surprise.”
Four top-10 finishes this season have propelled the Surrey-born 32-year-old to a career-high sixth in the world rankings, joining fellow countrymen Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter in the top 10.
But rankings aside, Casey has turned his attentions to ending the 14-year wait for an English major champion at Augusta this week.
No Englishman has won a major since Nick Faldo was victorious in the 1996 Masters, but Casey believes the current crop of players can bring that run to an end.
“We’ve got to produce results now,” said Arizona-based Casey, who is one of eight Englishmen in action at Augusta. “I want to do it because otherwise Poulter and Westwood or the others are going to beat me to it.”
Casey missed six months of 2009 with a torn rib muscle, but insists he is back to full fitness and playing better than ever.
“I feel I’m coming into the prime of my career, I’m more mature than I have ever been with everything in my golf game.
“It’s a case of eliminating mistakes, taking bits of how I have matured and apply that. If you manage your emotions and energy levels, that can be the difference to carry a guy over the line.”
Paul Casey is appearing at the 02 Golf LIVE, tickets on sale now and available from www.golfliveevent.com or by calling 0871 230 7130.
1440 Mike Weir (Can), Lee Westwood (Gbr), Matteo Manassero* (Ita)
1502 Chad Campbell, Francesco Molinari (Ita), Paul Casey (Gbr)
1513 Ernie Els (Rsa), Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn)
1535 Phil Mickelson, Robert Allenby (Aus), Yong-eun Yang (Kor)
1736 Camilo Villegas (Col), Kenny Perry, Rory McIlroy (Gbr)
1820 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington (Ire)
1831 Yuta Ikeda (Jpn), Ian Poulter (Gbr), Steve Stricker
1842 Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, KJ Choi (Kor)