Casey admits health concern as Lawrie hits rock bottom

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The Independent Online

The expensively equipped European Tour physiotherapy truck looking after players at The Open offers massages for aching backs but could do nothing to help the bruised egos that have trudged off Royal St George's in the past three days.

They included the fallen mighty such as the world Nos 1 and 2, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, after they missed the cut on Friday to the 1999 Open Champion, Paul Lawrie, after he shot a third-round 81 to move to rock bottom of the pile among the 71 players who did survive the cut.

Paul Casey could have been added to that list but the Arizona-based Englishman at least had a valid excuse, apart from the appalling weather, for his eight-over-par 78. The European Ryder Cup star fears that at the tender age of 34 he has become an early victim of the potentially crippling disease arthritis.

Tomorrow he will have an MRI scan to discover whether the fears have any foundation. "I have been suffering with this for about three months and I have been having all sorts of treatment, including blood tests and X-rays," said Casey. "I thought it might have been a bite from some insect where I live in Arizona. Then we thought it might be gout, but both things were ruled out. It might even be early-stage arthritis, but whatever it is it needs to be sorted out soon."

While Casey can at least seek medical aid for his condition, Lawrie, who was once labelled the best bad-weather player in Europe, may need some mental therapy if he is ever to win a second major. "It was the type of day when you woke up, looked out of the window and wanted to go back to bed," said Lawrie, who has missed seven cuts since getting his hands on The Open's Claret Jug.

"I even heard people were playing just down the road at the Prince's Club. And when I was out on the course I looked at the crowd following me and thought, 'You must be mad'."