Paul Casey has set his sights on representing Great Britain at next year’s Olympic Games in Japan as he tees off his European Tour campaign at the Porsche European Open.
The European Ryder Cup star is playing in his first non-co-sanctioned event of the season at Green Eagle Golf Courses and will hope to continue the English trend of recent winners in Hamburg.
Jordan Smith claimed his maiden European Tour title here in 2017 before Richard McEvoy won for the first time at the 285th attempt last year - one week after claiming victory on the European Challenge Tour.
Casey, who has 13 European Tour triumphs to his name, is hoping to build on his seventh placed finish from 12 months ago as he aims to be among the top two Britons by next June’s cut-off point for the Olympics.
The World Number 17 would currently miss out on a place in Tokyo, with fellow Englishmen Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood ahead of him in the Official Golf World Rankings and Rory McIlroy choosing to represent Ireland, but Casey is using that as motivation to finish the calendar year with a string of strong performances.
“There’s a lot of golf between now and then. If I make top 15 and don’t make the team, it would probably be the strongest world ranking for British players ever," Casey said.
“For me, having represented England and Great Britain at amateur level and professional level, and Europe in Ryder Cups, it’s the only thing I’ve not really competed in.
“I’ve done a lot of things in golf but haven’t played an Olympics. Japan would be amazing. It’s the one last thing. I’m 42 and have a lot of years left yet, but how many chances will I get to play in an Olympic Games? I’ll be 43 next year. It’s unlikely that I’d make it as a 47-year-old.
“I have lots of other goals. One of my biggest is to make the Olympics so every event between now and the cut-off in June - even if I don’t win this week - I know every position I move up on the leaderboard is a bit of world ranking points.
“It’s a good goal to have, but how do I achieve that? It’s by winning Porsche or having a chance to win the Race to Dubai and all those other events.
“If I were to win two or three times between now and then, I’m probably in. It’s good, because it keeps you focused. This is one of seven events I have left this year.
I’ve done a lot of things in golf but haven’t played an Olympics. Japan would be amazing - Paul Casey
“I took the time off so I have the energy to compete this week and at Wentworth, Italy, Dubai, Japan, China and Australia and everywhere else I’m going this year.
“I’m not on holiday – I’m not here for the Hamburg weather.”
Casey has six top 20 finishes in seven appearances at the Porsche European Open and returns to Germany in the bid to end his five year exile from the winner’s circle on the European Tour.
“I’m excited to play in Europe,” Casey added. “I haven’t played any yet on the European Tour this year. The fact I’ve started here, shows that I like this event a lot.
“I really enjoyed last year, so I was keen to come back. It’s a long golf course and I’m a good driver of the ball, which is paramount around here.
“You can take advantage of a lot of the holes, especially the par fives. The finish isn’t a common one for what we’re used to playing, with three par fives on the last four holes. It means it could be a very exciting finish.”