By Tony Jimenez
ASH England (Reuters) - Britain's Paul Casey, third in the world in 2009 before injuries and divorce sent him spiraling down the rankings, is looking at this week's World Match Play Championship as a chance to get back in the top 50.
Casey, who is based in Phoenix, Arizona, slumped as low as 169th on the list before victory at the 2013 Irish Open sparked a revival.
The 37-year-old Englishman has slowly worked his way back up to 66th in the world and a strong showing at the London Club could see him return to the top 50, a position that offers a place at all the leading tournaments.
"I'm kind of in that no-man's land and it's difficult trying to play on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour," Casey told reporters after beating European Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson 2 & 1 on the opening day at the London Club on Wednesday.
"I'm just one good performance away from jumping into that top 50 and this is a great event to be in if you want to grab some world ranking points."
Casey, who won the Match Play event at Wentworth in 2006, is only competing this week on an invite.
"I was fortunate to get the nod," said the winner of last month's Dutch Open. "But I've been playing some really good stuff, the victory in Holland is an illustration of that.
"I've played an awful lot of golf this year trying to do both tours and I'm very happy with my game."
Casey, who has played in three Ryder Cups but missed out on Europe's victory over the United States at Gleneagles last month, never trailed on Wednesday and Welshman Donaldson seemed powerless to respond to his opponent's six-birdie haul.
The only Englishman in this week's field said he played "some wonderful stuff".
"I feel great after that," added Casey who next meets U.S. Ryder Cup rookie Patrick Reed on Thursday. "It was always going to be an extremely difficult match.
"Jamie's probably fatigued coming off the back of all the golf he's played recently but ... that was certainly some of the best stuff I've played this year in terms of ball striking."
The top two in each of the four round-robin groups go through to the quarter-finals on Saturday.
(Editing by Toby Davis)