It’s my birthday subsequent Monday so I do know I’m getting outdated, however all the identical – even I do know I’m beginning to repeat myself about Paul Casey and Augusta National.
Last November he was the headline tip on this column and, to some extent, he backed up that religion with a Thursday 65 to tie the primary spherical lead.
As famous on the time, it was merely a continuation of his very spectacular main championship type for 2020 as a result of, whereas it had been apparent that he’d thrived at Harding Park within the PGA Championship (he completed tied second), he’d been reasonably extra sneaky in logging the second-lowest rating over the ultimate 54-holes of the US Open at Winged Foot, too.
Then, earlier this 12 months in an ante-post preview of the Masters, I tipped Casey once more off the again of his victory within the Dubai Desert Classic.
It’s well-established that Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia have accomplished the Emirates-Augusta double, however they’re removed from the one Dubai winners to have flourished within the Masters that very same 12 months – Alvaro Quiros and Bryson DeChambeau, for instance, each shared the primary spherical lead after profitable within the UAE.
Further encouragement, persuading me to shout his identify for a 3rd time, comes within the form of the sturdy type Casey has maintained since January, ending tied fifth at each Pebble Beach and Sawgrass both facet of tied tenth at Bay Hill.
I additionally just like the issues he is been saying in current occasions.
Take how he responded to that good begin at Augusta 5 months in the past: “It’s not lost on me, the golf course, the history, this tournament. This is a treat. It always has been and always will be a real treat.”
After his win in Dubai he was instructed that he’d seemed calm and composed in rivalry.
“I think if you watched my performance at the PGA Championship, that was a similar performance,” he stated.
“I’ll be honest, I’m still learning, I’m still getting better, I’m still growing up, it’s something I’ve worked on.”
In his final six begins at Augusta he is completed high six thrice, T15th on one other event and had that quick begin final 12 months which fizzled away to T38th. The solely unhealthy effort got here when he opened with an 81 in 2019, an absolute outlier for him since 2015.
When requested about that spherical in Dubai he stated reasonably cryptically: “There’s a story about that, I’ll tell you when it’s not being recorded. Remind when we’re one-on-one and it’s not being recorded. There’s a bit of karma to do with that round of golf.”
He by no means did clear it up on-the-record, however he did add, of his Masters probabilities: “I need a bit of help from Dustin, Rory, Bryson. But I’ve got a chance, you know. I’ve got a good chance.”
In abstract: he was glorious in final 12 months’s majors, he is rock strong at Augusta, he is a winner this 12 months, and over the past eight weeks he has the second-best adjusted scoring common within the discipline.
The temporary for this column is to search worth outdoors the favourites and is there a risk that, if you happen to scratch beneath the floor, there is a case for Justin Rose this week?
For years he was a well-liked alternative at Augusta, however the common feeling is that he is light over the past 12 months and while there is no doubt he is had issues I simply marvel if there is a little hope there too.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph final week he defined why we hadn’t seen him on the course since he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational (when he had really been tied seventh beginning the third spherical).
“I could have played the Players at a stretch and the WGC Match Play,” he stated. “But I thought to myself ‘What do I want from my career nowadays?’
“No disrespect to some other competitors, however what drives me now’s majors, Ryder Cups, the Olympics.
“So, I thought I would recover fully and concentrate purely on the Masters. I’m single-mindedly going after this one and to have that approach is an interesting experiment in a sense. I’ve definitely never had five weeks off before a major before. Who knows? It might work.”
He later added, of Augusta: “I know the place, know what it takes and can get it round there even when not at my best.
“Last 12 months, I used to be enjoying completely garbage, however once I birdied the second on the Saturday I used to be one shot off the lead. That offers me confidence that if my second main is to come wherever it may effectively be there.”
It was an echo of something he said last November, noting of his career in the Masters: “I’ve carried out all the appropriate issues down the stretch right here and haven’t got an arm in a jacket but. Maybe one arm, however that does not depend.
“It doesn’t owe you anything, right, but if it was to happen, I feel like there’s some dues that have been paid maybe, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”
It’s additionally attention-grabbing that he is fortunately again working with Sean Foley, as he defined when ending second on the Saudi International in February.
“I blame Covid,” he stated. “I was kind of locked down there in the Bahamas and just sort of went in a weird direction there for a while. It’s good to be back with Sean.
“Foles is my boy and I had the very best a part of my profession working underneath him. He is aware of how I’ve performed effectively and why I’ve performed effectively.”
The Rose case is a curious one, apparently poor, however with loads of ticks the place you’d need them.
Last 12 months he was second within the PGA Championship at midway and completed tied ninth.
He additionally is aware of that early within the third spherical final November he was briefly in-contention at Augusta National.
And then there’s his type.
He headed into the ultimate spherical of the Dubai Desert Classic seventh, with an outdoor probability of profitable, and every week later was second in a excessive class discipline in Saudi Arabia.
And then there may be his course historical past: only one missed reduce in 15 begins, 5 high 10 finishes, two of them second locations.
There’s an opportunity that he is received a barely higher shot this week that it could appear at first look and with ten locations he is within the group.