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Page last updated at 18:40 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 19:40 UK

In-form Casey ready for Masters

Paul Casey
Casey is heading to Augusta on a high after victory on Sunday

England's Paul Casey believes he has his best ever chance of winning a major as he prepares for this week's Masters.

The 31-year-old has risen to a career-best sixth in the world rankings after securing his first PGA Tour victory at the Houston Open on Sunday.

"This is huge. I love the Masters and I feel it's my best opportunity of a major," said Casey.

"The course is set up very well for me and winning [in Houston] isn't a jinx like winning the par-three contest."

The Masters par-three competition takes place on the Wednesday before the tournament proper gets under way.

But players have begun to view success in the event as something of a curse, with no player ever winning both the par-three and the Masters in the same year.

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It is relatively rare for a player to win the Masters after finishing at the head of a field in a regular tournament the previous week, but Casey is drawing inspiration from two stars who did just that.

"Phil Mickelson has won the week before and gone on to win at Augusta, and Sandy Lyle has done it as well - and it would be nice to be another Brit to do that," he said.

Casey has a good track record at Augusta, finishing no lower than joint-11th in three of his four appearances there, although he missed the cut in 2005.

"Self-belief is a very difficult thing to explain and to work on because you don't want to be arrogant," he added.

"You don't want to be cocky but you have to have belief in yourself. For me it's just been a lot of hard work, playing a lot of golf, and a bit of time.

"Hopefully I'm not any different than I was as a kid growing up.

"I now have that belief when I step onto the golf course. I'm looking to beat guys and not worry about the others. I just what to think about what I'm going to do to get around the golf course in as few shots as possible.

"It's time to start believing that I'm in that elite group and that I can be a top 10 player in the world - maybe I can be top five. We'll see when we get there."

Casey moved up to sixth in the rankings from 12th place, having started the year 41st and without a win in two years.

But this year he has won in Abu Dhabi and Texas and also reached the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play.

Tiger Woods retains the number one spot for a 200th successive week.

Former British amateur champion Michael Hoey has also benefited from a title win.

His first European Tour triumph, in Portugal, propels him 125 places to 148th spot.


Golf world rankings (6 April):

1 T Woods 9.83 pts
2 P Mickelson 8.37
3 S Garcia 7.28
4 G Ogilvy 6.43
5 P Harrington 5.86
6 P Casey 5.55
7 V Singh 5.52
8 H Stenson 5.12
9 R Karlsson 4.94
10 C Villegas 4.84
11 K Perry 4.79
12 S Stricker 4.29
13 L Westwood 4.23
14 A Kim 4.20
15 J Furyk 4.13
16 E Els 4.09
17 R McIlroy 3.96
18 S Cink 3.63
19 M Weir 3.59
20 M Kaymer 3.40



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