Republished from the PGA TOUR website
March 12, 2018: He had to wait 80 minutes or 3,262 days, depending on the perspective. Either way, Paul Casey is once again a winner on the PGA TOUR.
Casey, playing nine groups ahead of the last twosome in Sunday’s final round of the Valspar Championship, blistered a tough Innisbrook course for a 6-under 65. The Englishman then had to wait out the finishers, all the while thinking his 10 under total would not hold up. He signed his scorecard, signed some autographs, did a quick interview and then retreated to the locker room to watch his chasers come in.
It was not a fun experience.
“Awful,” he said, adding later. “Rubbish. Can’t stand it.”
The biggest threats ended up being Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods. Reed came to 18 needing a birdie to win outright. Instead, his tricky putt from 45 feet turned into a disaster and he suffered a bogey. Meanwhile, Woods drained a 43-foot, 8-inch putt at the 17th hole to climb within one stroke. He also faced a difficult birdie putt, this one from just inside 39 feet. Knowing Tiger’s flair for the dramatics, Casey gave it a “50-50” chance to go in.
But it came up short. “I dodged a bullet,” Casey said.
He was overdue for it. Prior to Sunday, Casey’s only TOUR win was the 2009 Houston Open. Since then, he’s won five times, four of those on the European Tour. He’s also battled through a variety of injuries that dropped him outside the world’s top 100. But he’s found consistency (he leads the TOUR in consecutive made cuts with 27 straight), made some noise in last year’s FedExCup Playoffs (three top-5 finishes) and finally peaked this week against the best field in Valspar history.
“Probably not the most significant win of my career, but it’s certainly one of the most satisfying ones,” Casey said. “The quality of golf that I played. I know I made some errors on the round yesterday, I hit it in the water twice but as a whole, I would say it’s one of the cleanest weeks I’ve ever had from the kind of a golf course management point of view.
“Houston was obviously great fun. My eyes are much more open right now. I’ve taken a lot in. Your last win is always your best one because it’s the freshest.”
Winning a Tour event with Woods in contention was also satisfying for Casey. A week ago, Phil Mickelson won at age 47, and with the 42-year-old Woods in the mix, it seemed like he might extend the streak on Sunday. Instead, it was the 40-year-old Casey who did the trick.
“I’m sure he was disappointed he didn’t get the victory,” Casey said. “I actually thought he was going to win today before the round started. I thought it was just teed up beautifully for him.
“I said a couple times if I don’t win this thing, I actually want Tiger to win it. I’m glad it’s this way.”
Longest drive – Luke List’s 374-yard drive on the 10th hole. It reached the tree line and left him just 85 yards to the pin. He ended up with a par on the hole.
Longest putt – Fabian Gomez’ birdie putt of 56 feet, 8 inches on the fifth hole. It was the first of five birdies on his round – unfortunately, he started with three bogeys to shoot 2-under 69.
Hardest hole – The 442-yard par-4 18th played to a stroke average of 4.22. The tough pin placement has made it one of the most difficult closing holes on any Sunday on TOUR.
Easiest hole – The 529-yard par-5 1st played to a stroke average of 4.55. It was the only hole that contender Justin Rose birdied en route to his 1-over 72.