PROUD Paul Casey says securing a spot for Team GB at the Olympics is one of the biggest achievements of his career.

Cheltenham ace Casey, 43, was officially selected in a four-strong golf team on Tuesday alongside Tommy Fleetwood, Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff.

Evergreen Casey, the world No.20, has been there and seen it all over the years but failed to make the cut for the Olympic team as golf made its long-awaited return at Rio 2016.

Justin Rose – who won gold – and Danny Willett were the men’s pair in Brazil as the sport featured for the first time since 1904 but it’s Fleetwood, the world No.33, and Casey who will spearhead Team GB’s title defence in Japan.

And patriotic Casey, who tied for seventh at last month’s US Open, said: “I got my kit about two minutes ago and it’s one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had.

“For me, I never thought it would be possible. Watching the Olympics as a kid, all the great athletes I got to witness, and then for golf to be included back into the Olympics – I think Tommy and I have seen up close how proud Justin was to win that gold medal and what an effect it’s had on his career and his legacy.

“Now to have an opportunity for the four of us to go and do what Justin’s done is something very special.

“I can only imagine what a feeling it’s going to be. I certainly know how much I wanted to make this team and I felt under pressure. It was something I wanted to do five years ago and missed.

“Even back then, we didn’t know what an impact it would have and then to see what an impact it did have, I was desperate to make this team. For me, it was the same kind of feelings as I’ve had trying to make other teams for the first time.

“I’ve got a very small window of opportunity. I’m older than these guys [other squad members] and I felt this was probably my last great opportunity to make an Olympic team.

“Hopefully you can ask me the same question again in a few weeks’ time and I’ll answer it better.”

Casey is a veteran of the globetrotting golfing scene and has showed serious signs of resurgence over the past couple of seasons.

He impressed at last month’s US Open at Torrey Pines and after tying for second at last year’s PGA Championship, followed that up with fourth in the tournament at Kiawah Island in May.

Results like that have seen Casey steadily ascend the rankings and after missing out on a Games debut five years ago, he will now take his seat on the Tokyo plane.

This summer’s Olympics will be like no other but Casey insists Covid-19 restrictions will not inhibit his experience in Japan.

“All of us have been living in this pandemic and as athletes we are very used to the protocols, testing and restrictions we’ve had in order to participate in the sports we love,” added Casey, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“I don’t think it will put any of us off what will be an amazing experience. Sure, I’ve got my favourite sports I’d love to go and watch like swimming and cycling and that’s probably not going to be possible – but I don’t care.

“I’m going to be on a golf course, trying to beat Tommy, and the chance to win a medal for Great Britain is why I’m there. I couldn’t be more proud of that.”