Casey hopes fond memories can help turn back the clock

Englishman banking that return to scene of last win will bring out his best
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The Independent Online

Englishman Paul Casey is relishing beginning his 2009 season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championships this week, where he hopes history will repeat itself. The 31-year-old, who won the event two years ago, is feeling refreshed and ready to make his assault on the Race to Dubai, but will be in a competitive field which includes world No 2 Sergio Garcia and major champions Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman.

"I'm very much looking forward to 2009," Casey said. "I feel like I have prepared well. I had some nice time off after the HSBC Champions, and then played Tiger's event [the Chevron World Challenge last month] and kind of used that to review aspects I needed to knuckle down hard on and worked very hard for the last two weeks before coming here. I feel good about the game and I'm looking forward to having a good 2009. I need to get back in the winners' circle. It's been a couple of years, actually, this event two years ago, so it's a good place to do that.

"Arriving back here gives me a little bit more confidence, having won around this golf course. I think it's a golf course for me that fits my eye very well.

"It allows me to play to my strengths a little bit, use my length off the tee," he added. "You get good feelings when you arrive on certain tee shots. You remember shots that you've hit and that's a good thing, to remember the good shots, anyway, and I've had plenty of them around this golf course."

Martin Kaymer is another contender who will tee off tomorrow, having won his first European Tour event in Abu Dhabi a year ago.

The 24-year-old German finished four shots ahead of Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood, and went on to enjoy a superb season, winning the BMW International and ending up eighth on the tour's Order of Merit.

He admits returning this week will bring back some fond memories. "That was my first win on the European Tour so that's always very special," said Kaymer, who narrowly missed out on a place in Nick Faldo's Ryder Cup team last year.

"It was a big event and I won the first tournament of the year so that gave me a lot of motivation for the rest of the season.

"The win over here was very important to me, especially early in my career. It showed that I could win a tournament. It was very special when I came to the golf club yesterday. It was nice to walk down the 18th. It was a very special moment for me last year."

Kaymer, who started the Race to Dubai by finishing joint 20th in the HSBC Champions in November, believes his success on The National Course last year will stand him in good stead this time around.

"I think the most important thing here last year was that you put the ball on the fairway all the time because the rough was quite thick," he added.

"My driving was very, very good last year and I made a few putts in the first three rounds."