It’s taken almost nine years, but Cheltenham born Paul Casey has made it back to the PGA Tour winner’s circle.
The Englishman fired a Sunday 65 (-6) to beat Patrick Reed and golf legend Tiger Woods by a single shot. The former was tied with Casey for the vast majority of the back nine, and was only halted by a treacherous putt on the last which led to a bogey and him dropping out of the tie. The hotly anticipated final round of the man in red, Tiger Woods, left something to be desired.
Despite starting with a very professional birdie on the first hole, Tiger failed to make another until the 17th hole, which came via a 43 foot putt to give him a chance at matching Casey (who’d finished over an hour before, having started nine groups ahead) on the last with a birdie. Unfortunately for Woods, the final three holes at the Innisbrook Resort are among the toughest finishing holes the PGA Tour players face all season. In fact, in the history of the event none of the final three holes have ever played under their par score on average, ranking the ‘Snake Pit’, as its so aptly named, the second most difficult finishing stretch on the tour. As such, Woods failed to repeat his heroics of the 17th hole and the fairytale return for Tiger will have to wait for another week.
Casey’s last victory came at the 2009 Houston Open, since then he has won four times on the European Tour. Perhaps more notably, he has suffered some significant injuries that led to him dropping out of the world’s top 100. Casey has however had a rather meteoric rise back up the rankings and is proving the epitome of consistency on the tour with 27 straight cuts made.
The 40 year old Englishman finally broke through to capture the Valspar Championship, which boasted its strongest ever field, with a stunning round of 65 which tied the lowest round of the week. With the victory, Casey jumps a staggering 31 places in the FedEx Cup, from 39th to 8th, and has jumped from from 17th to 12th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
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