Nor is it the European team. It will, unfortunately, be Casey himself when he eventually reflects on a career which promised so much, subsequently fading into oblivion before being hauled back to a position at least remotely resembling the Englishman’s terrific talent level.
That Casey has passed up the opportunity to mark his second coming with a role in such a spectacle as the Ryder Cup will inevitably cause personal regret; be that five months, five years or five decades down the line. It isn’t just the next Ryder Cup he has opted out of, either – barring something remarkable, the 38-year-old won’t have a route back in. Being blunt, nor should he.
For now Casey’s insistence that he is placing his family first by continuing to play solely on the PGA Tour is entirely his prerogative. He is a sole trader, he can do as he likes. Others may ask what difference the playing of only five events – which can now be scheduled well in advance, owing to the concessions granted by the European Tour – actually make when otherwise cavorting around the United States.
Darren Clarke, Europe’s captain, is certainly deserving of bemusement after being left with the clear impression by Casey himself that he would do everything possible to play, and take on a senior role, at Hazeltine. In a basic professional sense, it is unfathomable that Casey wouldn’t want a place at the top table when individually he will continue to lag behind the likes of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day.
Speaking at the weekend, Justin Rose said Casey may still feel bruised by being overlooked for a captain’s pick by Colin Montgomerie in 2010. Casey was inside the world’s top 10 at the time. But not only would the bearing of a five-year grudge be unhelpful to anyone, the record books show Europe won the trophy that year. They also point to Casey’s last appearance being in 2008, when he delivered one point during a comprehensive defeat for Nick Faldo’s disjointed and dysfunctional European side. Others, it should also be remembered, have suffered Ryder Cup rejection and lived to tell a successful, returning tale.
Casey would have brought obvious qualities next September. Experience is the key commodity among them, not least on the American soil that many of Clarke’s group may be unaccustomed to. But for months, Casey’s procrastination over what should be a perfectly simple affair hinted at a lack of conviction over being involved. For that purpose alone he should not be regarded as a loss, and any European pursuit of him would have been questionable. Month after month of speculation and circus over whether or nor Casey would commit to Europe was unhelpful in itself.
That the discussion promptly ended on Saturday was disappointing. This was the eve of an exciting climax to the European Tour season. Focus should have been fully on Andy Sullivan’s bid to wrestle the DP World Tour Championship from Rory McIlroy. Instead, Casey offered confirmation of his European exile partly to overshadow events in Dubai. Presumably, this couldn’t have waited even 48 hours.
When he chooses, Casey offers illuminating company and insight. He is smart. It is notable, though, that he is not widely heralded as a vital team member by his peers. Or, indeed, a deep loss to the Ryder Cup scene. This much is intriguing in itself. Casey won’t win golfing popularity contests, which isn’t troublesome in itself but is pertinent in a team environment.
The theory that only European players, and not necessarily members of the European Tour, should be eligible for Ryder Cup places isn’t valid. For all the biennial meeting with the US shouldn’t be a random demand to players, it would be nonsensical for the European Tour to abandon principles of membership entirely. They would be dissolving themselves in all but name.
Instead, the Tour’s new chief executive, Keith Pelley, has laid out perfectly reasonable playing demands. Casey has opted to remain on the outside looking in; that much is solely to his detriment, not that of Clarke or a competition which will continue to upscale without him.
The precarious nature of life as a caddie has never been so readily evident as Sunday. Mick Doran was on the bag as Francesco Molinari finished fourth in Dubai, with a final round hole-in-one surely at least due in part to smart advice imparted to the Italian player. It later transpired that Molinari used the end of the European Tour season to inform Doran that he would be seeking a new caddie.
Doran is exceptionally experienced and will of course find new employment. To be fair to Molinari, it must also be pointed out that this would be a decision made regardless of his Middle East finish. It is only in very rare circumstances that such moves are taken on a whim. But still, the occasional riches of the caddie world are offset by the regular unknown.
This article was written by Ewan Murray, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 25th November 2015 12.37 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010