Casey defeats Woods, Reed to win Valspar Championship
March 11, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
Paul Casey captures first PGA TOUR win since 2009 at Valspar
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 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 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.”
Paul Casey's highlights | Round 4 | Valspar
Having set up a chance to force a playoff with his 43-foot putt on the 17th hole, Tiger Woods opted for 2-iron off the tee at the par-4 18th. His drive went 258 yards, leaving him with 185 yards to the pin. No player in the field had a longer approach shot on that hole Sunday. Tiger’s approach finished 39 feet from the pin, and his birdie attempt came up short. Asked why he didn’t use 3-wood off the tee, Woods explained, “I bring the right part of that fairway where it cuts in a little bit with 3-wood into play and on top of that the wind is off the left. If I'm going to squeeze it in I want to cut it. I didn't feel comfortable with that. If anything, that 2-iron I could have hit it flatter and hotter but, hey, I'm in the fairway, I got a shot at this thing. Unfortunately, I didn't hit it close enough.”
Tiger Woods' interview after Round 4 of Valspar
You may think Patrick Reed lost his chance at a playoff when he bogeyed the final hole Sunday after his birdie putt rolled back to his feet after failing to clear the top ledge (his ensuing chip to save par came up just short). But from Reed’s perspective, the key misses were two 3-foot birdie chances on Saturday that he failed to convert. “Just too many mistakes out there,” Reed said. “I felt like I played solid today. I really didn't feel like I did anything wrong on the last when I walked off with a 5.”
Patrick Reed's highlights | Round 4 | Valspar
Sergio Garcia’s 6-under 65 tied for the low round of the week, but he thinks it could’ve been better. “Could have been a really, really special round,” Garcia said. “You know, I probably wasted at least three shots on the front-9 with a 3-putt and a couple short misses for birdies.” The big Sunday move, though, left him solo fourth. That’s his best PGA TOUR result in his 12 starts since winning the Masters last year.
Brandt Snedeker entered the third round just one shot off the lead and paired with Tiger Woods. But it was a day Sneds will quickly want to forget. His 7-over 78 – which included seven bogeys and one double -- dropped him into a tie for 31st. Snedeker’s only suffered one other final round with a higher score – a 79 at the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Third-round leader Corey Conners also suffered a cruel day, a 6-over 77 that left him tied for 16th. Conners opened with a bogey and never got untracked, failing to produce a birdie the entire round after making 15 the first three days. Nevertheless, the Canadian rookie called the week a “great experience” after leading each of the first three days. “Little disappointed with the outcome today,” he said, “but, yeah, tried to battle hard out there and just wasn't meant to be.”
Jim Furyk shot a 5-under 66 to move into solo seventh. It’s his first top-10 finish since a T-6 at The RSM Classic in November of 2016. … Steve Stricker followed up his first win on PGA TOUR Champions last week with a solid T-12 after shooting a 2-under 69, his best round of the week … Branden Grace’s T-8 was his best finish on American soil since the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
QUOTABLESI'm sure I'll find a photo somewhere with my name above his.I'm not touching a club tomorrow.I just didn't hit it hard enough, obviously. Absolutely killed it and the ball rolled back down to where it was.
Lowest round – The 6-under 65s by winner Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia not only were the lowest of the day but tied for lowest of the week.
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 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.
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