The fact that Paul Casey hasn’t played a Ryder Cup since Valhalla remains maybe the oddest stat of the week. And this in a week where we are fed more numbers, permutations and percentages than the rest of the year combined. Sometimes the simple ones are the best.
It’s made even stranger when you watch Casey on the game’s biggest stage. Everything about him stacks up.
The history books will tell us that he and Tyrrell Hatton lost by one hole to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. We’ll probably look back on this being the beginning of a beautiful thing for the Americans, we should also reflect on this being an heroic effort by the 41-year-old Casey.
It was his first defeat in any fourball. Sometimes you just get the wrong end of the draw, in the end Hatton had a chance of a birdie three to finish which would have given Europe a quite brilliant half.
In the debit column coming into the matches Casey has been out of touch since June, he made himself unavailable for selection last time out, he needed a pick this time around which brought the usual whispers and then he dumped his first approach into the water.
In the credit column he’ll likely have given all of the above not the slightest second thought.
Spieth threw everything at him and Hatton on the front nine, the American making birdie at five of the first eight holes, and when he was done Justin Thomas got involved at 9 and 10.
From an American perspective it was dazzling, from a European one it was exhausting.
At Gleneagles in 2014, where Casey wasn’t even close to inclusion, the picture in the team room that received the most attention was of a rock in the middle of a raging sea with the message ‘We will be the rock when the storm arrives’.
For Thomas Bjorn’s side Casey was the rock. With all the American birdies flying around Casey produced five of his own in a particularly sticky seven-hole spell.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 28, 2018
We talk of Casey not being a team man, who’s to know what he’s actually like behind closed doors, but for all the chat of Casey doing things his own way to have him performing at full tilt must do wonders for the morale of your peers.
On the 1st tee he didn’t get involved in the thunderclap, Tiger also chose not to make his debut in the Viking war chant, instead getting his head down and getting straight down to business.
Casey was asked at the start of the week what his standing was in the team room. His first reply was ‘veteran’, then after a bit of thought he dumbed things down a little.
“I’m playing a role on and off the golf course. I’m doing my bit. Our captain is so on top of things that not a lot needs to be done currently. I’m not the most experienced guy in the team room and I’m not the oldest, actually. So maybe I’m not a veteran yet, but I’m in a good position. I’ve got the attributes. I’ve got the tools to help guys, and I’ve got the tools and the attributes to play a different role with other team members.
“There’s no point to prove. Just here to do my bit and we’ll see what happens.”
This is potentially Casey’s final Ryder Cup outing, it seems a nonsense that there will only have been four of them, but today he did his bit and, on this form, there might well be a happy ending for him.