Paul Casey is due on the Hazeltine tee at 7.45am this morning to begin what should be a powerful challenge for his first major title at the US PGA Championship. The world No 3 plans to keep the next alternate on the entry list waiting until almost the last minute before confirming that he will take part.
The Englishman has been troubled by a rib injury sustained in last month's British Open and it was bad enough to force him to walk off the course after six holes of last week's WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. He was due to make a final assessment of his condition after yesterday's practice round. Casey, 32, who won the Abu Dhabi championship for the second time in January, issued a medical bulletin on his website.
"A strained intercostal muscle resulted in an early withdrawal [last Thursday] and leaves me uncertain for this week," wrote Casey, the leader of the inaugural Race to Dubai merit table which will determine the 60-man line-up for the Dubai World Championship in November. "The injury actually came about in the lead up to the Open when I was hitting drivers the week before. I've been able to rest it the past few weeks but tweaked it last Monday playing out of the rough. It's a frustrating injury to receive as the only real cure is rest."
Rory McIlroy, who won the European Tour's other UAE tournament - the Dubai Desert Classic - in February, is hoping to come out of a mini-slump at Hazeltine. The young Irishman has been outside the top 40 in his last three events, culminating in a disappointing joint 68th place in the Bridgestone Invitational. "I don't think it's tiredness," he said when pressed on the fatigue factor. "You are always going to get a few lulls along with the highs."
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