Casey looks on the bright side
Casey looks on the bright side

If they had played this Perth International in 2009 Paul Casey would have arrived as a hot favourite.

He was ranked third in the world. The two blokes ahead of him were Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Casey had a history of success driving belief, and vice versa. He had proved he could contend and win, all the way from student golf through amateur ranks to the pro tours.

The 35-year-old Casey at Lake Karrinyup yesterday was carrying a different set of objectives.

"I want to come down here and perform well and give myself a chance to win a golf tournament on Sunday afternoon," he said.

"But I am not going to hype it up in any way. I have been putting too much pressure on myself. That has been detrimental."

Casey is ranked 132nd in the world this week, 163rd on the European Tour's order of merit.

It only took an innocent split second off course 12 months ago to change his 2012 possibilities.

He crashed off his snowboard at Vail, Colorado, severely dislocating a shoulder. He has spent much of the year learning to believe in his arm again, let alone ponder how his golf stacks up against the world's best.

He missed the cut at three of this year's four majors and didn't play in the other.

He only realised he was starting to hit the ball the way he wanted to a matter of weeks ago.

Two weeks ago, a stray dog ran off with his ball during the Alfred Dunhill Links championship. He hopes the kangaroos at Karrinyup aren't similarly inclined.

But he finished third in an event in Korea a week ago.

Casey is learning the possibilities in golf are endless and is daring to ponder his own possibilities again.

"Getting my golf game back and trusting the shoulder took a lot longer than I ever thought it would take," he said.

"But maybe it is one of the best snowboard crashes I have ever had because it allowed me to really deconstruct my golf game and go through and look at everything and see what I need to do and what I need to work on to be as good a player as I can be.

"This year has been frustrating, and obviously it was my own fault, but I feel very good sitting here about the way things are going now and the way the future is looking."

He spent much of yesterday's pro-am trying to remember the Karrinyup course he played in 2003's Johnnie Walker Classic, and trying to work out how, back then, South African Ernie Els shot 29 under around the testing layout to win.

He struggled with both. But he described his ball striking as "pretty good" and his mental outlook as very much "looking forward".

"There is speed coming back and distance and it is quite good fun," Casey said.

"The golf I was playing in the beginning of 2009 was great. I had three wins by May.

"Now I just want to get back to a stage where I am playing that level of golf again.

"I think I can be better than I was at that stage. Where that puts me in the world, I have no idea."

The West Australian

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