Paul Casey hopes his fond memories of the Volvo China Open can help step up his injury comeback at Binhai Lake in Tianjin.
The Englishman missed the first three months of The Race to Dubai after a snowboarding accident, but now aims to start contending for titles once again after finishing 56th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and missing the cut at The Masters Tournament.
Casey, 34, won the 2006 Volvo China Open, earning a Golden Jacket that The Ryder Cup star still holds dear.
He said: “I still have it! I should have brought it this week and would love to win another one. It would be very nice to have a closet full of those when I end my career.
“It was a close run thing that year and I eventually beat Oliver Wilson in a play-off in Shenzen. That was my first of two Volvo titles, I now have two after winning the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain.
“Winning is a special thing and I have to say that I like to win tournaments that carry a jacket. Obviously everyone wants the Green one but it is a cool prize to win here and I like playing in China. Shenzen was a great course and great people and I just like coming to this country. I always get a lot of support here and hopefully that can continue this week.
“My lack of talent on a snowboard has been exposed again! But there is always a silver lining to everything and having been away from the game for nearly three months I am hungry and excited to be playing golf again.
“Sitting around on the couch has brought the passion back and now I just have to put in a lot of hard work to get back to the required standard. The ball-striking is good but I just don’t have the consistency yet. The razor sharpness in the putting isn’t there yet but I have made great strides and the confidence is growing every single day and I really believe I will be in that winner’s circle soon.
“It might be this week but if it is not it will be soon and I believe that I can win multiple times this season.”
Casey, who has 11 European Tour tiles to his name, expects a tough test at the Pete Dye-designed Binhai Lake layout.
“It is a very intimidating looking course but that is one of the things I like about Pete Dye,” added the World Number 43. “He likes to intimidate golfers but once you get down the fairways you realise the landing areas are very generous and this course is an absolutely classic example of that.
“Strategically it is very good. The tees have been moved up this week because it is monstrously long off the back tees and if the wind picked up enough there would be no way we could play off the back tees.
“We had fairly benign conditions today in the pro-am but I am hearing that it will get worse and there is a chance of a thunderstorm tomorrow. But we will deal with that as and when it happens. You always need a little bit of luck if you are going to win a tournament, whether it be a good bounce, a putt that shouldn’t go in falling in the hole, or your side of the draw. This could be one of those weeks where you get the right side of the draw and avoid the wind so my fingers are crossed.”
Another player looking to overcome a health scare is Casey’s compatriot Ian Poulter, who was hit by a bout of pneumonia at the start of March.
The 36 year old seemed to be suffering few after-effects as he finished seventh at The Masters Tournament, but insists he is still not quite 100 per cent.
“To come out and finish third at Bay Hill was nice and then Augusta was great to be in the mix in the last nine holes,” he said. “It was five days of pure misery to start with. I had a resting heart rate of 98 and lost ten pounds in five days which wasn’t great.
“I had a medical last week to compare what shape I am in now compared to January and there have been significant body changes. It will take time to get back. I have lost an inch and a half around the shoulders and other areas were affected such as biceps and thighs etc.
“Ten pounds is a lot to lose and I just have to be careful not to overdo and have a relapse. It wasn’t enjoyable, that’s for sure. I just have to rest and recover
“I like coming out to Asia and have had some success in this part of the world. I get a nice reception here and have a decent fan base here which is always great – that’s why I like coming back to play.”