Taking it easy?

Houston Open pinched: Defending champ Paul Casey withdraws

Houston Open pinched: Defending champ Paul Casey withdraws

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Paul Casey Photo by Dirk Hansen

It's impossible to argue Paul Casey's commitment to Houston. The Englishman pledged to donate $100,000 to an area charity as his way of saying thanks for his maiden PGA Tour victory (recorded in last year's Shell Houston Open).

Casey's commitment to going all out in Houston's PGA Tour stop this year makes for a slightly murkier discussion however.

Just days after Casey's caddie implored him to take it easy — with the Masters coming up next week — the sixth-ranked golfer in the world withdrew from the Houston Open today just minutes before he was set to take the tee box with Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott in the Shell's marquee group. Casey cited a lingering injury to his left shoulder and a pinching pain on the left side of his neck to tournament officials when informing them he was pulling out.

"I tried to play on Wednesday (in a practice pro-am) and I am bitterly disappointed not to be going out and playing, but I have got to worry about the rest of the season," Casey told Reuters.

Because it's Casey, you want and tend to believe that this just isn't a desire to rest thing. Golf tournaments held the week before majors have been plagued by those type of withdrawals over the years. It's one of the reasons, few sponsors want their tournament to be held the week before one of golf's four majors.

Casey's given Houston 100,000 reasons to think he's above that type of tactic though.