As he stepped up to the podium to face a dozen sympathetic reporters, Paul Casey fought back emotions.
He had just signed his scorecard for the final round of The Barclays and hadn’t yet been informed officially by European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie that he hadn’t been awarded one of Monty’s captain’s picks — though, one writer told him there was a voicemail and text message waiting for him, but Casey hadn’t looked yet. It was an awkward moment. What’s more awkward is the way Casey learned of the disappointing news.
Coincidentally, Casey was paired with Padraig Harrington, who was granted a spot on the team. On the seventh hole Casey noticed Caroline Harrington giving her husband’s caddie the thumbs-up. And then it went fairly quiet.
“Caroline’s a great friend,” said Casey. “She would have something to me if I had been picked. So at that point I kind of knew I hadn’t. Surprise? I just got off the golf course. I was trying to keep my composure and put in a solid performance today.”
The misty-eyed Casey was still visibly shell-shocked.
“I probably need time to take it in,” he said. “Simple fact is I’m not on the team. And I think Europe, they’ve got an unbelievable team. I wish them the best for the match, simple as that. I’m not going to stand here and sort of plead a case for why I should be on the team. It’s done and dusted. I tried my hardest and I didn’t make it.”
Poor guy. At this point, I was cringing and holding myself back from jumping up on the stage to give him a big hug.
And what’s even more awkward is that Casey’s caddie is Christian Donald, brother to Luke Donald who was probably the most surprising of Monty’s picks.
“Myself, Padraig, Justin [Rose], Luke, we kept bumping up to each other in the players lounge, sitting there,” said Casey. “Even on the golf course I walked on to the 5th tee today with Padraig, and Luke strolled by shooting a great round, walking on to the 9th tee and kind of looked at each other. We didn’t know. We had no idea that either the announcement had been made or was about to be made.
“So a difficult one.”
When asked if it was awkward to play the last few hours with Harrington, Casey said with a weary smile, “It was difficult. Can I go now?”
It was clear he was about to burst with emotion. We mumbled our apologies and thanked him for his time.
A few minutes later, Harrington was presented with the same question.
“It was never going to be easy,” he replied. “My own head was swimming a bit out there. Strange enough, once I got the pick actually, I couldn’t do much right for about five or six holes. It was an odd occasion, all right, in that sense. You know, on one hand I’m happy for myself, but I did genuinely feel sorry for Paul. It’s not a great situation to be in. Yeah, but as I said, once you’re not on the team automatically, you do leave yourself up to this.”
Meanwhile, Casey wasn’t finished with his press obligations, though. He walked ten feet away into a radio interview. And after that, he wandered twenty feet down to where the Golf Channel was set up for another one. Thankfully, he was done.
And then Casey put his dark shades back on and went over to sign autographs for fans. He walked down the line and took ten minutes to sign for every one of them.
I shook my head in disbelief and found myself roaming away from Padraig Harrington, who was speaking to reporters, to snap a picture of Casey.
What a class act.