PAUL CASEY ENDED A NINE-YEAR WINLESS DROUGHT ON THE PGA TOUR WITH A ONE-SHOT VICTORY OVER TIGER WOODS AT THE VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP.
Since that victory at the Shell Houston Open in 2009, the Englishman has stacked up 22 top-five finishes and moulded himself into a model of consistency.
Casey fired a final-round 65 Innisbrook to pip Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods by one shot.
The 40-year-old recovered from a moving-day meltdown, after playing the dreaded ‘snake pit’ in two-over on Saturday, to playing superbly over the final 15 holes with six birdies, including three in a row from 11th to 13th, and no bogeys.
Previously a Nike staffer, until the company announced a halt to making golf clubs in August 2016, he currently has a metalwood contract with TaylorMade.
Casey has switched to the new M4 driver and is a fan of the M3 hybrid, but still carries the 2017 M1 3-wood.
Not a short-hitter, he averaged 302 yards off-the-tee in Florida and ranks third in stroked gained: tee-to-green, on the PGA Tour.
A former world number three it was only a question of time, until he won his second PGA Tour title, after a 2017 season which should be hailed. Out of 24 events he finished in the top 10 nine times, the top 25 eight times and only suffered one missed cut.
I’d rather have multiple victories and a few missed cuts.
Leading the tour in ‘cuts made’, it was a stat that Casey wanted putting right, literally and his Scotty Cameron bladed putter took centre stage in Tampa:
“I’ve worked technically on the putting because it wasn’t good.
“I’ve never done with that the putting. I’ve always been super critical and try to have a great stroke. I’m approaching it the same way I approach the rest of the game. It’s carefree.”
Making sixteen birdies throughout the week and plenty of clutch par-saves a round final-round stat of 1.665 strokes gained: putting saw his grind on the greens pay off.
A free-agent when it comes to the lower part of his bag Casey still favours the SM6 Titleist Vokey range, which saw him rank third for scrambling this week.
Of the 28 greens he missed over the week, only a small percentage resulted in serious damage, Casey carded four bogeys and one double bogey:
“I would say it’s one of the cleanest weeks I’ve ever had from this kind of a golf course management point of view.”
WITB: PAUL CASEY, 2018 VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Driver: TaylorMade M4 , 10.5˚ (Mitsubishi Diamana White LEX D+ 70)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 2017, 15˚ (Mitsubishi Diamana White D+ 80TX)
Hybrid: TaylorMade M3, 21˚ (Mitsubishi Tensei White CK 100HY TX)
Irons: Mizuno MP-25; (5-PW): Mizuno MP-5 (4)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM6 (52˚, 56˚); Titleist Vokey prototype (60˚)
Putter: Scotty Cameron 009
Ball: Titleist Pro V1