Paul Casey is hoping to defend a European Tour title for the first time in his career as he returns to the site of his Porsche European Open victory two years ago at Green Eagle Golf Courses.
After last year’s tournament was cancelled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Casey was forced to wait an extra year to defend his crown in Hamburg where he won his 14th European Tour title.
He has since secured his 15th win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and is hoping to carry his strong early season form into a successful week on the continent.
“It’s my second defence which was delayed, I had one in the States as well with the Valspar. Finally, here we are,” said Casey. “It means I had the trophy for an extra year. I’m super excited to be here, but I’m really happy for everybody here in Hamburg, at Porsche, the promoters, the other sponsors and the European Tour.
“It’s one thing me being delayed a year for my title defence – but knowing the energy, and money, that went into last year’s event that never happened, I can only imagine the disappointment that everybody had.
“You can see the relief and joy on everybody’s face that we’re here and finally going to get this thing going, it couldn’t be better.”
The four-time Ryder Cup player defended the Valspar Championship on the PGA TOUR in 2019 but has not yet emulated that achievement on the European Tour. In 11 appearances in 2021, Casey has recorded four top-five finishes worldwide, including his win in Dubai and a tied fourth finish at the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island a fortnight ago.
“I’d love another victory,” said the Englishman. “I’ve managed to successfully defend a title before, but I haven’t done it on the European Tour. I would love to defend this one and continue that strong run of form.
“There’s a lot to play for, a lot of points, various teams to make that I’m not yet guaranteed to be on. Obviously I want to stay near the top of the Race to Dubai and give myself a chance to win that, because that’s another thing I’ve never won. There’s lots of things to play for this week.”
With general admission spectators set to attend a European Tour event in Europe for the first time since October 2019, Casey hopes that a boost from the crowds this week will help him on his way to another good performance.
“The tournaments I’ve played in the US in recent weeks now have an energy to them we didn’t have before,” he said. “It makes you realise sport is not the same without that fan element, without that spectator element, 2,000 is a really good number of people. People have got to be spaced, but that’s a good number of people and a good amount of energy and hopefully something I can draw from this week.
“To be honest, Valspar and The Players, that’s when thing have started to change and I’ve noticed an up-tick in my play and a sharpness and a focus, an added layer. It might be some of it is a little bit of pressure, you’re now in people’s gaze. You’re there under scrutiny and something about that has raised my focus.”