Paul Casey, among 18 Europeans competing in this week's Nissan Open in Los Angeles, remains deeply affected by the controversy he sparked with
anti-American comments last November.
The Ryder Cup star returns from back trouble for only his second event of the season and admits he has sought "professional help" to deal with a
problem he says "will live with me as a huge source of regret for the rest of my life". After the record-breaking win over the United States in
Detroit last September debutant Casey claimed in a newspaper interview that for the week of the match "we properly hate them".
That was turned into a tabloid headline of "Americans are stupid. I hate them", but while Casey was rightly angry about that he should have seen the
damage of adding fuel to the fire by saying that Americans can be "bloody annoying" and criticising the appointment of Tom Lehman as their cup captain
for Ireland next year. The 27-year-old World Cup winner has an American girlfriend, a home in Arizona and is now a member of the US Tour.
There was bound to be a backlash and, understandably nervous about the situation, he missed the cut in the Sony Open in Hawaii last month. Casey now
returns in front of crowds much more likely to target him, especially if he gets into contention for a title. California is one of the states where
Colin Montgomerie had his biggest problems after he upset American fans in 1997.
The Surrey golfer added in the Daily Telegraph: "My remarks, and other people's interpretations of them, upset and affected a lot of my American
friends and colleagues, but I don't think anyone has been more affected and upset than I have." He has spoken to a number of American players,
including Lehman, and feels they showed understanding towards him.
"But it was all the people to whom I couldn't give an explanation that concerned me and prompted me to get professional help," he added.
"This whole mess is entirely of my own making, but, as everyone will understand, I have to be able to put it behind me at some point. Hopefully, when
I tee up this week."
Montgomerie is also in the Nissan field and returns to the Rivera course where he lost a play-off for the 1995 US PGA. Tiger Woods, winner of his last
tournament three weeks ago, can take back the world number one spot from Vijay Singh by finishing in the top four.