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Paul Casey hoping to break title defense jinx

Paul Casey has never retained the seven European Tour titles he won before the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and he hopes to break the jinx here this week in what he calls one of his favourite cities.

"This is an amazing place and I am just returning after seeing the Aldar development which is building the Formula One circuit. Last year it was a fantastic feeling to start off with a victory and I would be more than happy to register my first successful defence of a pro title here," Casey said.

"I won a lot of friends here last year and one of the best has been my corporate relationship with Aldar Properties. Being a big fan of Formula One I am waiting for the 2009 Abu Dhabi Championship and for sure I will be there," said Casey, who strongly supports Lewis Hamilton and follows the popular Ferrari team.

The 30-year-old Englishman also revealed he has decided to skip the Dubai leg and play only the Abu Dhabi and Doha event in the three-event 'Gulf Swing'.

"This year I have decided to plan my schedule and try and avoid too many long trips. It does affect the mind and body," he said.

Commenting on his goals for the year, Casey said he would be delighted to win a Major and get his tally of Tour wins into double figures. "I done well in the Majors last year, getting into the top 10 of two events. Being one of the seven players who made it to the cut in all four Majors, I am pleased with that. I also would like to win a few events in the US," said the 2006 European Tour Golfer of the Year.

Playing down his 'rivalry' with Ireland's Padraig Harrington, Casey said: "Yes I have also read it in the press but he is a very good friend of mine. I have a lot to learn from him. He is a great ambassador for the sport and is a role model for both pros as well as kids."

Casey, who had a feel of the course yesterday morning, said: "It looks tough. Hopefully the rain will give way to some warm weather."

Meanwhile preparations were in full swing as over a third of the world's top 25 players forming the strongest playing field to date were set for the third annual Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the European PGA Tour sanctioned curtain-raiser to the 2008 season, from January 17-20.

Apart from Casey and Harrington (8), Northern Ireland's Ryder Cup hero Darren Clarke; Henrik Stenson, the Swedish No 1 who finished second and eighth in the first two Abu Dhabi Golf Championships; and Scottish maestro Colin Montgomerie, who has amassed 39 Tour victories in his 20-year career, are part of the field. Today's Al Masaood Pro-Am, kicks off activities at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. In the Championship's first taste of action, amateurs compete alongside a Who's Who? of A-list stars who between them have won Majors, Ryder Cup events, numerous Tour titles and several European Tour Order of Merit winners.


January 15, 2008

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