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Paul Casey (center) was a spectator at the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, but hopes to become a champion this year. (Franklin/Getty Images)

Refreshed Casey ready for Birkdale after three-week break

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In an effort to improve his performance at the Open, Paul Casey took three weeks off from tournament play to get ready. He spent some quality time at Birkdale, and is pleased with the way he prepared.

SOUTHPORT, England (PA) -- Paul Casey says he is "raring to go" at Royal Birkdale this week following a refreshing break from competition.

The Englishman made a long-term plan to skip the prestigious European Open and Scottish Open in the past two weeks to fully prepare for the seaside test of this Open Championship.

And the 30-year-old is hoping the short break following a third-place finish in the BMW International last month will set him up nicely to better his previous best Open finish of 20th at Troon four years ago.

"My preparations have gone very well," said the world No. 48. "Three weeks off after finishing third in Germany was nice. The only tournament I missed from my usual schedule was the European Open and it gave me the chance to prepare very nicely for this.

"I came up here three times to learn the course as well as I could. I've seen a lot because I didn't know it," he explained. "I'd never played it before, I was here just as a spectator 10 years ago but don't remember much, I have to confess. There is quite a bit to learn so my three weeks off wasn't just time off, I was still working.

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"I've also recharged the batteries and I'm raring to go this week," he added. "We've got some good golf the next few weeks and I wanted to be fresh for that and I am."

And while a first major victory is obviously at the front of his mind, Casey is also aware that a big week is needed to fire him up the standings in the race for a Ryder Cup spot, currently lying in 19th place.

"It was a deliberate plan to miss the European Open, based mainly on last year when I was very tired after the PGA (Championship last August)," he added. "I had no energy left and didn't want to feel the same this year. There's a lot of important golf to be played and I've got to bring up my game and win points.

"My position is that I'm not in the team. I need to start playing the golf that I can play, start putting the results together," he said. "I've prepared very well for this. My record in the Open is not as good as other majors. I played a lot of links golf growing up but don't tend to play a lot now.

"I can't put my finger on it but the only thing I can try and do is get better as a player and try to shoot some decent scores this week and hopefully start a trend of playing some great Open golf."

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