AKRON, Ohio -- Paul Casey, by his own words and admission, is "between a rock and a hard place."
That's not a reference to the immobilization plate he uses as an insert in his right shoe, either.
Casey, a former world No. 3 who has struggled since winning a European Tour event six months ago, has fallen to No. 149 in FedEx Cup points entering the Bridgestone Invitational and is looking at a full-on assault to try to get into the four playoff events.
Or at least a few of them. Because, failing that, he's looking at a trek through the Fall Series, tournaments where players of his ilk are not often spotted.
The former Ryder Cupper, now No. 15 in the world ranking, is the breathing personification of the risks associated with joint membership on both the PGA and European tours, and what can happen when schedules are plotted and assumptions are made -- even with the best intentions.
Casey, 34, planned on playing in at least two FedEx series events, but needs a monumental rally in order to crack the top 125 to become eligible. After playing in the PGA Championship next week, he has already has added the next tour stop, the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., to his revamped itinerary.
That will give him 13 starts in the States -- two shy of what he needs to retain his PGA Tour membership. If he can't crack the FedEx series, he has to sit out four weeks of U.S. competition.
"It's so great to be playing both tours when you are playing good golf and you're [entered and eligible] in everything," he said.
When you're not, players can end up in his predicament. Casey admitted that he assumed he'd be playing in at least a couple of FedEx starts to satisfy his U.S. requirements.
"You've got to plan for them," he laughed. "D'oh!"
At least he can laugh, which isn't exactly easy, since he's been fighting a turf-toe issue for two months and is playing with a stiff, carbon-fiber insert in his right shoe. His foot is taped up, he's been taking anti-inflammatories and icing the foot after each round.
The only remedy? Rest, as was the case two years ago when he missed several months with a ribcage injury when he was ranked third in the world.
"I seem to get the injuries that require rest," he cracked. "Surgery would be so much easier."
Casey said he will definitelly fulfill his 15 Stateside starts, even if it means playing in the Fall schedule at Las Vegas, San Jose, Sea Island or the season finale at Disney World to reach the total. He might need to play all four -- he's also buried at No. 140 on the money list and needs to move up 15 spots to remain fully exempt in 2012.
He should have no such hurdles reaching the 13 starts required to keep his European card. He'll hit No. 12 next week at the co-sanctioned PGA Championship in Atlanta.