Paul Casey believes his maiden PGA Tour victory can propel him to Masters success this week.
Casey, 31, won the Shell Houston Open in Texas last night after beating American JB Holmes at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off, handing the Englishman his first win in the United States in 77 starts.
Winning the Masters after a tournament victory the week before has been a rare feat but Casey’s confidence is brimming following his PGA Tour success and his good track record at Augusta National, where he has not finished lower than joint-11th in his three appearances at the first major of the year.
“This is huge. I love the Masters and I feel it’s my best opportunity of a major,” Casey said.
“The golf course sets up very, very well for me and winning this week isn’t a jinx like winning the par-three contest.
“Phil Mickelson has won the week before gone on to win at Augusta, Sandy Lyle has done it as well and it would be nice to be another Brit to do that.”
Casey’s success at the weekend followed on from victory at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January and a run to the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona, where he was beaten 4&3 over 36 holes by Geoff Ogilvy of Australia.
That form and his victory in Houston sent Casey to a career-high number six in the latest world rankings issued today and the European Ryder Cup star said belief in his ability and hard work had been the key to his breakthrough.
“You know, self belief is a very difficult thing to explain and to work on because you don’t want to be arrogant,” Casey said.
“You don’t want to be cocky but you have to have belief in yourself. For me it’s just been a lot of hard work, playing a lot of golf, and a bit of time.
“Hopefully I’m not any different than I was as a kid growing up. You know, it’s sort of the way I am to people or anything else.
“I now have that belief when I step onto the golf course. I’m looking to beat guys and not worry about the other guys, just what am I going to do to get around the golf course in as few a shots as possible, and that’s what I did today.”
Casey added that he was now feeling very good about his game heading to Augusta.
“It’s just been a lot of work with (instructor) Peter Kostis. I think I’m finally getting to the stage where I’m starting to have belief in myself.
“I’m a top whatever I was, 12th in the world or something like that this week, coming into this week, 12 or 13. It’s time to start believing that I’m in that group and that I can be a top 10 player in the world and maybe I can be top five. I don’t know. We’ll see when we get there.
“Clearly I just take a little while to sort of get used to things and feel comfortable. Now I feel comfortable out here. I’m having a great time out here. I enjoy it. I Love the tournaments.
“So I think that shows in the golf I’ve played, and starting off with a win in the Middle East was brilliant. It was a good field there. I think it relaxed me for the rest of the season, took the pressure off a little bit, but it didn’t change the intensity.”
With the victories on both sides of the Atlantic and his high finish at the WGC-Accenture, Casey now also finds himself riding high in both the European Tour’s Race To Dubai rankings, in which he is second, and the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings, having jumped from 31st to sixth after Houston.
“I’m not sure how many PGA Tour events I’m playing. Obviously I’ve played my minimum. I didn’t know how many FedEx events I was going to get into starting the season.
“It was important to get off to a quick start and rack up some FedEx points and world rankings points and all the rest of it. Three events and sixth on the list. I’m pretty happy with that.”