Paul Casey arrives at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies World Match Play in buoyant mood after the Englishman defended a title for the first time in his professional career last week at the Valspar Championship on the US PGA Tour.
“It feels great to be here after winning, really good. It’s obviously been a short week, I’m a little bit tired. I’d like to have a day off to recover, but it’s probably a good thing just to crack on.
“Last week was brilliant, so enjoyable, and what a tough golf course that is. But last year was like this huge kind of relief and quite emotional. Sunday was just exciting and felt great and kind of felt like the sort of golf – I certainly made mistakes, everybody did – but felt like golf I was playing ten years ago, when I was in my 30s rather than my 40s. So it felt very good.
The 41 year old is the most recent of three Europeans to have won in consecutive weeks on the other side of the Atlantic – alongside Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari – and all three are present at Austin Country Club in a field which features 48 of the world’s top 50.
Casey has a strong record in knockout formats, having won the Volvo World Match Play at Wentworth Club back in 2006, while his Ryder Cup record of four wins and five ties out of 12 matches is one not to be sniffed at. Add to that two runner-up finishes and four further top tens in this event, and Casey is a force to be reckoned with in Texas this week.
“My match play record is fairly strong. Maybe not a huge amount of success in this particular event, or at Austin Country Club. But I played well finishing off the Ryder Cup last year in Paris. That was a great match against Brooks. I know how to play it. I’ve got massive respect for my group, but I don’t really have a group of death.”
The 13-time European Tour winner is one of ten Englishmen in the field this week, a tournament record, and three of those are making their debut this week – Tom Lewis, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace. Pepperell will be full of confidence after a top five at the Players Championship two weeks ago.
“Match play is very different,” said Pepperell. “I’ve haven’t played match play for a decade or so – since I was an amateur. Although me and Matt played in the GolfSixes last year.
“I mean out here, all these guys are very good golfers, so I think you’re taking it all with a pinch of salt. Anything can happen on the day. You’ve just first of all got to make sure that you play well. But I’ve historically loved match play so it will be nice to – hopefully we can use some of those positive memories and get positive.
“It was a bizarre week at the Players, I didn’t feel like I played very good. I was ready to go home pretty early in the week. And then before you know it, I found a good run here and there on a Sunday. One of those weeks I wouldn’t be able to say I expected or saw it coming, because I really didn’t.
“It was a lot of fun, that’s for sure. Playing with Justin on Sunday was great. Yeah, obviously the 17th was a pretty magical moment for me. And I had a lot of people at home saying how much they enjoyed it.”