Paul Casey says he would never turn down the opportunity to represent Team GB, as he prepares for a busy few weeks competing at The Open and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The 43-year-old Englishman is in good form, having finished in the 10 in two of this year’s three major tournaments so far, and he will be looking to better his best ever Open finish of third when he tees off at Royal St. George’s on Thursday.
But while many of his peers have chosen to skip the Olympics, citing various reasons, Casey has told Eurosport he made qualification one of his biggest priorities for 2021.
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“I can’t speak for those guys who’ve turned down the opportunity. Various reasons have been given - scheduling and various other things - but I know what it feels like to put on a top that says Great Britain,” he said.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, at the 1999 Walker Cup when I was an amateur, but I would never ever turn that opportunity down.
“The guys that did go to Rio, they just harped on about it for years, it’s all (Olympic champion) Justin Rose talked about, he still talks about it today. He carried that gold medal around in his bag for about two years.
All they’ve ever said is amazing things, that it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever done on a golf course, maybe their greatest ever all-round experience. The Olympics are a total no-brainer for me, I worked really hard to make this team.
“Everyone’s got their reasons, but my reasons for wanting to be a part of this are very strong and very positive and I think it’s had a measurable impact on our sport.”
Where the Olympics sit amongst the majors and the Ryder Cup will be different for every golfer - no other event is quite as divisive. Many golfers said they regretted not going to Rio, but the likes of Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia will not be in Tokyo. Others have completely changed their view on the Games, after rejecting it five years ago - like Rory McIlroy, who will represent Ireland instead of Team GB.

Paul Casey gets in a practice round ahead of The Open

Image credit: Getty Images

“Usually, we’re so individual, we’re so selfish in our sport and we don’t get to share what we achieve, yet alone represent your country.
“People ask whether I feel pressure, but no, to me it's a nice secure feeling. The 300-plus athletes that’ll be there representing Team GB, we’re all working towards the same goal. This support structure is an unusual feeling.
I grew up watching the Olympics and know the feeling I had watching other people have success, like Daley Thompson and Linford Christie.
“Knowing that I could give that same feeling to someone else, is very, very cool. I’m relishing that opportunity.”
Casey and Tommy Fleetwood will both be trying to emulate Justin Rose in the men’s competition, after he won the first Olympic golf gold since it was reintroduced to the programme in Rio. Casey has already gone close to winning a major, but has already helped Europe to Ryder Cup victory three times.
“Justin’s got all three (major win, Olympic gold and Ryder Cup victory) and I think everyone will be different in their answer, but talking to Justin’s (former) caddy Mark Fulcher, he puts the Olympics as the greatest thing he’s done on a golf course. I’ve got a few weeks to get all three of those things ticked off!”
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