Paul Casey knew what would happen when he made his decision to join LIV Golf. The three-time PGA Tour and 15-time DP World Tour winner admitted so multiple times while speaking to media ahead of his debut at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster this week.
“There’s a lot more to my decision of sitting here than just a financial opportunity and less golf. But I was very aware of the ramifications of making this choice,” said Casey on Wednesday, noting how he’s won on five different tours. “The PGA Tour is something, it was a goal of mine to play on the PGA Tour, and it’s been an incredible journey.”
After fellow LIV rookie Henrik Stenson lost his captaincy for next year’s matches in Italy for joining the Greg Norman-led and Saudi Arabia-funded series, the five-time member of Team Europe admitted he was concerned about his own Ryder Cup future.
“As I said before, I was aware of the ramifications of my decision. You know, and I guess it’s not — the rules and decisions that are going to be put in place are out of my hands. I would still love to be a part of that, but if I’m not, then I guess there’s nothing I can do,” explained Casey.
“I’m actually not sure what to tell you because (the Ryder Cup is) such an amazing thing. Some of the moments I’ve had, some of the teams I’ve been a part of, even the bad moments, they’re just amazing,” he continued. “To know that there’s a possibility that a lot of us are going to miss out on that, I’m not sure what to tell you yet because I guess we don’t know. Right now we’re all in limbo, which is a bit frustrating. Yeah, I don’t know.”
If Casey was as conscious as he claims, then he knew this outcome was inevitable. He didn’t have to join LIV right away. If the Ryder Cup was truly that important, he could have waited. But he wanted to have his cake and eat it, too.
The 45-year-old Englishman, a former UNICEF ambassador who was initially apprehensive about playing golf in the Kingdom a couple years ago, defended the progress Saudi Arabia is making on the human rights front.
“I’ve been to the Kingdom a couple of times, and I’ve seen change happening in the Kingdom, so I can confidently say that change is happening and that what we do is having a positive effect,” Casey explained.
LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for the Kingdom to sportswash its human rights record. Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
When asked if he would feel responsible or regret if the fragmentation of players joining LIV severely damaged or ended either the PGA or DP World tours, Casey supported his fellow players and took a few shots at DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley, as well as CCO and Ryder Cup director Guy Kinnings.
“The players are making their decisions, obviously. But the players are not trying to damage the game. We leave this to those in charge of the Tour,” said Casey. “In this case, this is left with Mr. Pelley, Mr. Kinnings. I could actually ask them some questions. We could ask Mr. Kinnings why the relationship deteriorated between the (DP World Tour) and Saudi Golf. We’ve got a lot of questions, but right now they all seem to be coming our way, not his way.”
“I’m a guy who’s sat on the European Player Committee for many years, I’ve sat on the Player Advisory Council for many years. In fact, I retired and then they asked me to come back because of my input,” said Casey. “I know the fabric of this game pretty well on the inside, on the Tour level. At no time have I ever tried to damage the Tour in the decision that I’ve made. If it’s damaged, I think the questions have to be asked somewhere else.”