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Following Europe’s Ryder Cup destruction of the U.S. in Detroit in 2004, he infamously explained Europe’s continued success in the event by remarking: “We properly hate them.”

A verbal indiscretion? Maybe, but the old Casey liked tweaking the competition, particularly Americans. The new Casey married one, making longtime girlfriend Jocelyn Hefner his bride just days before he began this season’s rampage at Abu Dhabi.

“I should have married earlier, I guess,” Casey joked. “I seem to have struck a nice balance between my life on and off the golf course. Golf is not the most important thing to me in life, and I understand that now. … I can let it go and be comfortable with whatever happens.”

That newfound perspective was needed at Bethpage, where Casey’s quest for a first major ended with a pair of 75s and a missed cut in the recent U.S. Open.

“If you would have told me I wouldn’t make a single birdie in 36 holes, I never would have believed it,” Casey stated on his Web site after joining Tiger Woods in the unfortunate end of the draw and using 64 putts on the bumpy greens at Bethpage.

The old Casey might have done a bit of sulking.

The new Casey simply started prepping for Congressional and an AT&T National where he’ll rank below only Tiger Woods on the celebrity meter.

“I’m not big on celebrity. I don’t like that word,” Casey said. “I’m an athlete. I’m a golfer. I’m happy with that word. And I’m happy to set an example with work ethic and hopefully how I behave on and off the golf course. But I’m a sportsman, an athlete, not a celebrity.”

Forget the modesty, golf has a new superstar. And with Phil Mickelson stepping into the shadows indefinitely, don’t be surprised if the amicable Brit supplants Lefty in the world rankings and concludes this season as golf’s best supporting actor.