It will hurt watching Ryder Cup I rejected, admits Casey
Paul Casey admitted it would "hurt" watching the Ryder Cup next week, and you'd imagine that if the Englishman wins the Tour Championship - and the $10m (£7.7m) FedEx Cup bonus - Europe captain Darren Clarke would share his pain.
Casey, the former world No 3, infamously made himself ineligible for the match when refusing to join the European Tour, citing family reasons.
The decision has apparently paid dividends, as he has regained his place in the world's top 50 while he has been concentrating solely on the PGA Tour.
Should he prevail here at East Lake then he would have millions of validations. Yet, however it works out, Casey knows it will be not be a joyous viewing experience next week.
"That's going to be a weird one," Casey said. "In the past, when I've missed a Ryder Cup because I haven't qualified, or I've not qualified for the Masters I have watched with a sense of, 'I wish I was there, but I had my opportunity and I didn't get there'.
"So maybe watching the Ryder Cup because I'm not eligible - yeah, it will hurt a bit more."
Casey has finished second in the past two FedEx events and is among the top five players who are guaranteed to lift the FedEx Cup and its jackpot should they win this event. Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott and Jason Day are the others.
Rory McIlroy is in sixth place in the standings and should he win his second event in three weeks then Johnson would have to finish outright second to deny him.
The Ulsterman is the only member of Europe's team who has qualified for this 30-man dollar-fest and may well feel he is playing for Clarke as well as himself.
McIlroy partners Casey in today's first round and would do his captain a favour if he could win his first FedEx Cup.
As well as Casey, Russell Knox has the opportunity to make it uncomfortable for Clarke.
The Scot was overlooked for a wild card by Clarke in favour of Thomas Pieters. In eighth place in the standings, Knox has realistic hopes of lifting the FedEx Cup should he win the tournament - and of then being labelled 'Europe's Billy Horschel'.
Two years ago, Horschel won the FedEx Cup after being left out of the Ryder Cup team by Tom Watson. The PGA of America changed the qualifying rules as a result and on Sunday Davis Love will name his last captain's pick.
The choice seems to be between world No 7 Bubba Watson and the rookies Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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