One of the six in the field with a shot of winning the Race to Dubai, Paul Casey is content not paying attention to the myriad permutations that could play out this week.
The Englishman, a 15-time winner on the European Tour, is yet to conclude a season as the circuit’s No 1 golfer and, at 44, understands the opportunities might not come around too often — even for a player of his calibre and track record.
For inspiration, though, Casey doesn’t have to cast his mind back too far: 11 months ago, Lee Westwood finished runner-up in the DP World Tour Championship and thus sealed the Race to Dubai crown. At the time, he was 47.
Casey, however, needs to go one better in this campaign finale and, since he’s ranked seventh in the overall standings — world No 1 Jon Rahm sits third but is not competing at Jumeirah Golf Estates (JGE) — requires current Race leader Collin Morikawa to finish worse than a two-way tie for 12th. What’s more, Billy Horschel, second at present, must also come home worse than a two-way tie for fifth.
Not that Casey’s busied himself with working it all out.
“Yeah, I don’t think about it,” the relaxed Ryder Cup star said on Wednesday from the Rolex hospitality suite at JGE, there in his capacity as a Rolex Testimonee. “I’ve never been somebody who runs through that stuff. I struggle to … I’m a guy who’ll just start looking at all the data. So I stay away from that. Focus on job at hand.”
And anyway, in hugely experienced caddie John McLaren, Casey has a considerable crutch to lean on come Sunday, should it be required.
“I tend not to look at scoreboards on Sundays,” the reigning Dubai Desert Classic champion said. “So it’ll be same game plan; whatever I’ve been doing to get myself into that position.
“If I look it’ll be on 18th tee or 17. It’s actually my caddie’s job. Whatever it is, two scenarios: let’s say I need an eagle to win down the last, he’ll tell me. Or, if it’s a three-shot lead, he might be handing me a six-iron off the tee. He usually takes control in that scenario, or just reminds me.”
Casey got oh so close to clinching the Order of Merit in 2006, but Sergio Garcia bogeyed the final hole of the final tournament in Spain and Padraig Harrington took second in the event. Hence, he pipped Casey in the year-long honours by around €35,000 ($39,500).
Asked on Wednesday what finally adding the European Money List title to his already stellar CV, Casey said: “There’s not many guys who get to do it in their 40s. Westwood has done it, but he’s an anomaly. It would be very cool considering my first year on tour was 2001 and here I am in 2021 still challenging. I love that, the prospect of that. What would it mean? I don’t know. I can only answer that if and when I win that trophy.”