(Reuters) - Paul Casey has suffered his share of trials and tribulations in recent years and it was close friend Justin Rose’s first major victory at last month’s U.S. Open that inspired him to land the Irish Open title on Sunday.
The three-shot victory at County Kildare represented his first win on the European Tour for two and a half years, a period when form and fitness deserted him and he also went through a painful divorce.
“Watching Justin really lit the fire for me,” Casey told reporters after a win that sent him soaring from 169th to 102nd in the world rankings.
“Justin’s victory was phenomenal. He’s a good friend and I was so proud of what he did, the way he played and the way he conducted himself,” he said of his fellow Englishman.
Casey’s win was his 12th on the European Tour but he said it felt like a breakthrough triumph.
“Psychologically I think this is huge,” the 35-year-old explained. “This almost feels like a first win.
“I have struggled with confidence and this is a huge relief, knowing I am moving in the right direction, that I’ve got some great golf left in me for another 10-plus years.”
Casey rubber-stamped his victory at Carton House by rolling in a 60-foot eagle putt at the final hole.
“This week the putting clicked,” he said. “I switched putters, put a new one in the bag.
“I think I was chasing things a little bit over the last couple of months because I knew I was playing quite well and just needed something to click.”
Casey has a home in Arizona and has spent much of his career playing in the United States.
Although he said he would never turn his back on Europe, his targets are to get back on the U.S. Tour, play in the Ryder Cup again and win the British Open.
“I want to replicate what Justin did,” Casey added. “I want to go and win the Scottish Open (next week) and get myself in the British Open.
“I still want to be an Englishman lifting the Claret Jug. Those sort of goals have very much been thrust back into my mind again.”
Editing by Sonia Oxley