MUNICH, Germany – Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia will switch allegiances from the PGA Tour and return to their European Tour roots on Thursday when they tee up for the first round of the BMW International Open.
Their primary concern is to get their games in shape at the start of a three-week build up to the 150th British Open, which starts at St. Andrews on July 17. However, they both have a second agenda.
England’s Casey, currently ranked 8th, and the Spaniard Garcia, who in 1999 at 19 became the youngest player to make his Ryder Cup debut and has figured in all four matches since, are currently not in the frame to play against the Americans at Celtic Manor in October.
Casey lies 13th in the overall qualifying table which will provide nine automatic members of the European team, while Garcia is 19th.
With a combined total of eight Ryder Cup appearances and with both men being in their early 30s – and approaching their golfing prime – many would have expected the pair to face Corey Pavin’s team.
However, with so many European triumphs on both sides of the Atlantic this year, their current form would not make either of them a strong candidate for a wild card from Colin Montgomerie.
“The Ryder Cup is a worry because there is such strength in depth here in Europe at the moment,” Casey said. “And I certainly want to play at Celtic Manor. But with The Open Championship coming up, getting into shape for that has to be my priority.”
Summing up his approach, he said: “Start playing well now and hopefully the results will come and the Ryder Cup take care of itself.”
Speaking at the Golfclub Munchen Eichenried, where he and Garcia will face strong opposition from other top U.S. Open performers like Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer, Casey admitted to a bout of jetlag.
“I will just have to rely on adrenalin to get going.”
Nick Dougherty, who produced the third victory of his career when winning the 2009 BMW International, hopes that good memories of the Eichenreid course will help lift his game from a slump.
“There is a lot I can draw upon, because I know I can shoot the low numbers you need to win around here,” said the 28-year-old Englishman, who is currently 107th in Europe’s second Race to Dubai.
“But it’s getting harder all the time to win in Europe with the strength of our golf as it is. Several years ago you might look at the field in a tournament and say that five guys could win.
“But now every time you look it seems that there is 25 guys who could win and the numbers growing all the time.”
One person Dougherty will not have to beat is Frenchman Gregory Havret, who has withdrawn citing tiredness after his exertions in finishing second at Pebble Beach.