Paul Casey credited great ball striking and a green shirt on St. Patrick’s Day for his two-shot lead at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook. “The brighter the green, the more luck you’ve got!” he joked, pulling at his electric green Nike shirt.
Casey had no bogeys and seven birdies for a 64. But he did not reach the record of -9 at the Copperhead Course, held jointly by Jeff Sluman and Mark Calcavecchia with 62.
“I felt like I played some pretty good golf in the Middle East to start things off, and since being back in the States, it’s been very close to being good, but just not quite there,” Casey explained. “Today was an illustration of getting rid of the mistakes.”
As a world player based in Scottsdale, Casey is attempting to play as a member of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour—a difficult balance when it comes to scheduling. He sits down with coach Peter Kostis prior to each season to develop a game plan that hopefully will bring the most success. They try to iron out scheduling issues, particularly around majors. At this juncture, Casey has played seven of nine weeks—all but three outside of the US. He will take the next two weeks off.
“If I don’t play well at Augusta, then I’ll be calling up Steve Timms (Tournament Director at the Shell Houston Open) saying, ‘I’m really sorry,’” he added.
Casey admitted is was very difficult to play both tours for anyone not in the top 50 of the world rankings, where invitations are given automatically to the biggest tournaments. He said the change in Europe with 13 events made it tougher.
“I try to manage the schedule so I’m as fresh as I can be for the majors, and then go down and pick events of importance, WCG, Players, and BMW Championship in Europe. After that, it’s golf courses I play well or places I enjoy,” he explained.
Kostis is also a second set of eyes for Casey, who said his swing changes after a lot of travel. Kostis once told him, “If you return after a trip away playing golf with a golf swing which is as good or better than when you left, then you haven’t been playing golf. You’ve been playing golf swing.”
“I always have a habit of lining up too far right. Grip gets weak and you know, spin angle doesn’t stay there through the swing,” Casey said. “He usually just gives me sort of two, three drills to work on. Hit with your feet together, and try and hit shots sort of flat-footed, just very basic stuff.”
Another example Casey said was, if he has been wearing rain gear, he will end up standing too far away from the ball in an effort to make a full swing without the clothing getting in his way.
“He can tell whether I’ve been playing golf, trying to hit golf shows or whether I’ve been trying to swing the club nicely,” Casey concluded.
For today at least, Casey was hitting golf shots. He’s leading the Transitions Championship.
Martin Kaymer on his No. 1 World Ranking: “Of course I’m thinking about it. It’s a lot of motivation if you know that you are the best player in the world. So, of course, I really enjoy that!”