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Friday, 19 March 2010
U.S. Open - Preview Day 2  (Getty Images)
U.S. Open - Preview Day 2 (Getty Images)

Race to Dubai leader and World Number Three, Paul Casey, will lead The European Tour’s finest into battle at this week’s US Open Championship in confident mood.

Casey is aiming to break a 39-year English drought in America's national championship at Bethpage Black and admits becoming the first Englishman to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970 would be a greater achievement than doing the same at either the Masters or US PGA Championship as it would have been done in a Major he considers "the toughest test in golf".

Casey is naturally full of confidence having won the Abu Dhabi Championship in January, landed his maiden American victory at the Shell Houston Open in March before adding the BMW PGA Championship crown to his remarkable firth half of the season last month.

But he also admitted his US Open record was not the best, a tie for 10th at Oakmont in 2007 being his best finish in six attempts.

"I think it would be fairly significant to win here," said Casey. "You know, The Open Championship is obviously the one that's closest to my heart because it's my home Major, my home championship. I think the US Open, the only reason it would be second is because The Open would be my home championship. It's the only reason I can give you.

"I think the Masters has always been the one which I felt I had the best opportunity to win. This would be the one that maybe I've struggled at the most.

"So as a personal sort of victory, I think it would be almost seen as a greater achievement because I haven't played particularly well at the Open Championship, either. And to do something that hasn't been achieved in 39 years would be massive. So I would love to try and achieve that."

Casey, 31, made his US Open debut in 2003 at Olympia Fields, near Chicago, a year after the championship visited a public course for the first time at New York's Bethpage Black.

Having played the par-70, 7,426-yard Long Island course for the first time last week, Casey was extremely impressed with the test facing the world's best golfers this week.

"I had a great time," he said. "I got to play the golf course mid-morning. It was fairly empty. Phil (Mickelson) was out there. I don't think we saw anybody else.

"I thought it was one of the finest golf courses I've ever played. Very fair, extremely strong. Short par threes, long par threes, short par fives, long par fives: it’s a very impressive golf course."

Casey is relishing the challenges of the course and the way it has been set up by the United States Golf Association.

"It's a ball-striker's golf course. Length will certainly be an advantage," he said. "You could call that a driver's golf course (but) it's a ball-striker's golf course because you have to hit the irons well. It's not just about the driver. The driver's only half the battle.

With those victories in Abu Dhabi, Houston and Wentworth in the first half of the season, Casey is enjoying an exceptional year but a maiden Major success remains his ambition.

"Golf has been great this year," he added. "I need to continue that run and keep putting in the hard work. And I feel we're sort of getting into the meat of the season right now.

"Not that the beginning of the year hasn't counted for anything, but with three majors coming up in fairly quick succession, it's very important that I continue to play that good golf.

"The Majors are still the things on top of the goals list. And although this year it's been phenomenal, I think those are the things which ultimately define guys' careers.

"I don't have a major, and I would dearly love one. So this is very important for me to try and play great golf, continue that good form through the next two, three, four months."

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