Casey locked in on wanting to win Tour Championship over FedEx Cup

ATLANTA -- Paul Casey has thought about it and he's made up his mind. He's more focused on the Tour Championship than the FedEx Cup.

It might sound logical to choose the tournament victory over the concocted points title, until you realize there are about 8½ million reasons to pick the latter -- that's the dollar differential between the two.

Casey doesn't care.

He isn't fixated on the bloated payout, isn't thinking about being the season-long champion. That's a direct result of having not won a PGA Tour event in eight years and letting it weigh on his mind every time he gets close.

"For me, the most important thing is trying to focus on trying to win the Tour Championship," he explained. "The FedEx is an amazing byproduct of hopefully doing that."

As it turns out, procuring a win at the season finale just might be enough to claim the playoff title, as well.

With one round left to play, Casey leads Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele by 2 strokes -- and as things stand now, he's projected to also claim the FedEx Cup.

Not bad for a guy who so often has been associated with close calls and near misses.

Already this season, he owns one third-place finish among his eight top-10s. Last season, he claimed two second-place finishes and seven top-10s. The season before? Two seconds, two thirds and eight top-10s.

It's a résumé for which most other PGA Tour professionals would trade instantaneously, but Casey looks at other players' records and notes those victory totals.

"I take it as motivation," he said. "I truly haven't put myself in quite good enough position. Too much pressure on a Sunday to try to do something special. I thought I had an outside chance at Bridgestone this year and you're looking at what Hideki [Matsuyama] was doing to the golf course [a final-round 61], it's like, kind of throw my hands up."

The truth is, Casey is too talented to continue a winless drought that is nearing a decade. He turned 40 this year, but shows no signs of slowing down -- if anything, he is the rare golfer in this young-gun era who appears to be improving with age.

He finished sixth at this year's Masters, 26th at the U.S. Open, 11th at the Open Championship and 13th at the PGA Championship for a sterling record where it matters most. And he's currently ranked 14th in the world, a number that could climb into single digits with a Sunday triumph.

"I don't look at my age; I don't think about it," he insisted. "I look at more my abilities -- knocking a drive down past JT [Justin Thomas] on the last, things like that. That's kind of how I measure myself. Obviously, then score and results; that's how I measure myself out here. Can I still play the golf I used to play? The answer is, it's pretty close. I still have great physical talent and so the age thing doesn't bother me.

"I don't see it as a handicap in any way. It would be cool to, yeah, maybe I'll brag about it to the young guys, but I don't think about it too much. For me, the clock is ticking, though, for sure. Five, six, seven good years is what I think I've probably got left, so I need to make hay."

The $10 million FedEx Cup first-place prize and $1.575 million for winning the tournament would qualify as a lot of made hay on Sunday afternoon.

In order to win the playoff title, Casey needs Jordan Spieth (currently T-13) to finish in a three-way tie for fourth or worse; Thomas (currently T-4) to finish T-3 or worse; Dustin Johnson (currently T-13) to finish in a three-way tie for second or worse); Marc Leishman (currently T-22) to finish T-2 or worse; and Jon Rahm (currently T-7) to finish in a two-way tie for second or worse.

Those are a lot of variables, leading to plenty of potential scenarios for the final round.

He won't be focused on any of them.

Casey just wants to win the tournament. He just wants to finally win again, for the first time in more than eight years.

Asked whether he's even given consideration, though, to pulling off the season-ending double, he admits that it has, of course, crossed his mind.

"It would be amazing, yeah, it would be," he said, before catching himself. "Yes, I have given that thought and then I try to not think about it."