Paul Casey has shocked the European Tour by revealing he has quit his membership and therefore made himself ineligible for the Ryder Cup.
The Englishman, once third in the world rankings, has decided to dedicate himself solely to the PGA Tour. After shooting 62 in the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, Casey explained his reasons for turning his back on his home circuit, on which he spent 13 years, won 13 titles and accumulated earnings of more than £13m
“I’m no longer a member of the European Tour, which was a very tough decision,” Casey said. “For as long as I’ve been professional I’ve been a member of the European Tour. For a long, long time now, I’ve been trying to play both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, and some years I’ve done it brilliantly, and other years I’ve failed miserably.
“I just didn’t want to keep putting myself in kind of a position where I’m struggling to fly around the world, play the numbers, keep my world ranking at a certain number.
“Not being in the top 50 is really difficult to play both tours. It was a decision I didn’t take lightly, and I stewed over it for a long, long time. I became a father in September, which is by far the greatest thing ever, and that’s become really the focus for me, being at home with Pollyanna [Woodward, his wife] and Lex [their son]. I’ve never played a full season in the US, so I’m absolutely over the moon. I can spend a little bit more time at home, come to great places like Hawaii and give it all I’ve got.”
Casey, 37, has appeared on three Ryder Cups and is regarded as a matchplay specialist. Paul McGinley, the 2014 Europe captain, gave close consideration to his candidature as a wildcard for Gleneagles, despite him falling to 78th in the world rankings. The Cheltenham player was controversially overlooked by Colin Montgomerie for the 2010 match in Celtic Manor when seventh in the world and then missed out on Medinah in 2012 after being blighted by injuries.
Casey seemed to be returning to his best when winning the Irish Open in 2013 and then prevailed again at last season’s KLM Open in Holland. But he has failed to break back into the all-important top 50, which would guarantee entry in all the top events, including the four majors. Casey could come back into the Ryder Cup picture if he reapplied for his membership, but he will lose ground in the race by missing out on the points which will be available later this season.
Casey is twice a winner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship taking place here and contacted the sponsors with his apologies. It was left to another multiple winner to take the event by the scruff of the neck. Martin Kaymer has lifted this trophy on three occasions and a fourth loomed tantalisingly after a the second-round 67 took him to 13-under and into a six-shot clubhouse lead over France’s Alexander Levy.
Justin Rose was on two-under after a 69. Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, both on five-under, were afternoon starters.