That is where he was 14 months ago after getting the news that he was not one of Colin Montgomerie's captain's picks for the biennial match against the United States in Wales in October 2010.
Yesterday, his round of 66 took him to a tie for fifth place in the Dubai World Championship at six under par and marked a return to the form that helped him make three European teams in a row before last year's disappointment. He had five birdies and an eagle yesterday before taking a bogey-four at the 17th hole.
"My year has been frustrating to say the least," he said.
"Winning here would give me a lot of world ranking points, a lot of Ryder Cup points, and it's very important to me to get back in that team."
Casey, an Englishman, has won only once this season on the European Tour and is 32nd on the money list.
"I would grade this year as low," he said. "I've had turf toe [ligament damage] and it affected my game more than I thought it would.
"But playing the golf I am now, knowing that I don't have the full repertoire of shots in the bag and that I'm not firing on all cylinders, gives me a lot of confidence going into next year."
Currently ranked No 19 in the world, he was once ranked No 3, in 2009. "I just want to stay healthy now, and there is no reason I can't get back to playing the golf I did in 2009," he said.
"This is a start."