Casey eyes Ryder Cup return

Only Tour members can play on the team and Phoenix-based Casey gave up his membership after deciding in January to concentrate on the PGA Tour in order to get back into the world’s top 50.

The move has paid off with the former world No 3 losing a play-off in??the Northern Trust Open and finishing joint third in the Honda Classic to climb??to 44th at the start of this week.

However, even if he rejoins the European Tour before the May 1 deadline to be??eligible to accrue Ryder Cup points when the race starts in August, he will??struggle to play the 13 events required for membership.

“It was very straightforward when I was top 10 in the world playing both??tours,” Casey said ahead of his first Masters??appearance since 2012.

“I know I am back in the top 50 but I have only just got back into the top 50.??It was a very difficult decision but it was also the correct decision.

“I still have to play 13 events and right now I am not in the US Open or Open??or HBSC Champions at the end of the year. Playing 13 becomes difficult when you??haven’t played at the start of the year in Middle East.”

Casey played in the record Ryder Cup wins in 2004 and 2006 and the 2008 defeat??at Valhalla, but was in tears after being overlooked for a wild card by captain??Colin Montgomerie in 2010, when he was ranked seventh in the world.

“I desperately want to be part of a Ryder Cup again. There is definitely??passion and a fire there burning,” he added. “Certainly one of them I felt??like I was maybe denied, the others I haven’t been in a position to make the??team and watching Medinah and Gleneagles has been brilliant.

“What they have done has been absolutely phenomenal and I want to be part of??that again and not just part of it, but a real solid team player and leader in??the team room, which I know I can be. When I play my best golf I think I can??certainly play that kind of role.”

European captain Darren Clarke said earlier this week he wanted Casey on his team for Hazeltine next year, and the 37-year-old added: “Paul (McGinley) said??the same thing (even though I was a member of the Tour at the time).

“He was desperate for me to be part of that because I had won twice around??Gleneagles and unfortunately wasn’t playing the golf I needed to.”

The Englishman has been grouped alongside Webb Simpson, looking to build on two top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour this year, and Japan’s??Hideki Matsuyama. Casey finished sixth on his Masters debut in 2004 and is relishing being back??at Augusta National after failing to qualify in 2013 and 2014.

“When you have been here and gone away for a year or two you certainly??appreciate it when you come back,” he added. “I’m very focused this week but I??am enjoying being here and lapping up everything about it.

“I was on the same flight as Padraig Harrington (who was also ineligible last??year) on Sunday and when we landed the girls who run the courtesy car service??here had all made little signs saying ‘Welcome back Padraig’. We touched on that??subject and said that we were both going to give it a good go, but enjoy it.”