Golf: 'Forgotten Man' still doing OK

Paul Casey is in the world's top 25, has won twice already in a season during which his winnings have added up to more than £1 million - and yet he is calling himself "The Forgotten Man".

Casey was honest enough to accept the sobriquet after two rounds at the HSBC WGC Champions in Shanghai.

This year he has gone from world No 7 to world No 22, with fellow Britons in Luke Donald and Lee Westwood pulling away at the top of the rankings.

Just over two years ago, he was No 3 with Donald and Westwood outside the top 10.

"I might be only just outside the world's top 20 and, yeah, I've won twice," said Casey yesterday, after a 66 left him on eight-under, three off Freddie Jacobson's second round lead.

"But it shadows in comparison to what Luke's done - compared to him, I feel way, way down there. So referring to me as 'The Forgotten Man' of English golf is absolutely fine because I haven't played the golf I'm capable of, the sort to put myself in the headlines with the likes of Luke."

However, there are reasons with which to console himself, not least the injury which has blighted his game since May. When his toe began to throb, a year which was heralded with such promise tumbled so significantly he finished outside the top 125 of the PGA Tour and therefore lost his card.

The toe became infected, or at least that's what he suspected of his sore toe. If only it were so simple.

"At first I thought the pain and swelling was caused by a bite, a spider bite, then I thought it might be arthritis, then I thought I'd broke something, then I was even tested for gout," said Casey.

"I didn't find out for sure until August. But if I'd known in May the path I was going down with that injury I would have stopped right there and then and fixed it straight away."

Instead, he limped on.

"I'd never heard of 'turf toe' - I had to Google it. When it was confirmed I had it, I said, 'No way, that happens to American footballers and rugby players - I'm a golfer'."

By now, Casey's campaign was a collection of mediocrity, discomfort and as he put it "stress". He needed rest, he probably still does.

"Playing doesn't really help it - but I want to play. It's catch-22. It's getting better slowly; it's about 75 to 80 per cent."

The limp has all but gone, yet the ache lingers. He struggled in Wednesday's pro-am. Thursday's 70 was encouraging, the second round invigorating.

"The golf I played today is the golf I remember playing," said Casey. "That's the best round I've had in a long time."

Casey was back on a big-time leader board, including Keegan Bradley, two behind the Swedish pacesetter.

"Ryder Cup points have already started; there's a lot to play for, this is a WGC event," he said." The season's not over yet ... although I kind of feel I'm working towards next year."

"I want to get back on the team - simple as," he said. "I'm not giving up on the PGA Tour. I will be able to play in most events over there on my conditional status. But I may well play more on the European Tour. I'm definitely defending the Volvo Golf Champions." Late last night, Casey was tied for eighth, after a two-under 70, six shots behind Jacobson, though big guns like Louis Oosthuizen, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Westwood were all chasing - Oosthuizen two strokes behind at 14-under, and McDowell and Kaymer at 11-under.

-The Independent

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