England’s Paul Casey pulled of the biggest and most lucrative win of his career to date on Sunday, defeating Shaun Micheel by a massive 10&8 to record the biggest-ever win in the final of the annual HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth.
The 29 year-old (pictured) became the first debutant to win the event since Ernie Els in 1994 and he joins a list of very famous former champions. His form this week – and that of Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who made the semi-finals – will be a huge confidence booster for European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam ahead of the clash with the USA in Ireland later this week.
Casey played solidly in the morning round and found himself three up entering the afternoon session. He began the second eighteen brightly, firing two birdies in the first four holes to go five up after twenty-two holes. Micheel could find no answer and his driver, which he had been having problems with throughout the day, failed him significantly on the crucial twenty-fourth hole. He drove well into the rough and made a bogey, leaving him six down with twelve holes left to play. Casey then made three straight birdies, leaving no way back for the American and clinching the final’s largest ever win.
“This is the biggest win of my career so far,” said a delighted Casey, who had defeated his Ryder Cup colleague Colin Montgomerie 6&5 in Saturday’s semi-final.
“I don’t mean financially, but also in terms of honour and prestige. It’s a reflection on what I’ve been working on in the last couple of years. I’m just very happy to playing some really good golf at the moment.”
“I just didn’t play well,” said Micheel, who had defeated Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Robert Karlsson on a memorable run to the final.
“He played really well this afternoon. He made some mistakes early in the day but I made a couple right on top of them. It was a frustrating day.”
The sponsors of the event, HSBC, reported that the tournament had been a great success in terms of the strength of the field and the ticket sales that this generated. The presence of six of the world’s top ten golfers resulted in a 60% increase from last year on advance ticket sales. The demand for corporate ticket sales was even higher – some three times higher than in 2005.
HSBC have also been buoyed by the news that Casey has agreed to appear in the HSBC Champions Tournament in China from 9-12 November. The tournament in Shanghai will give Casey the opportunity of a famous ‘HSBC double’, but he will have to be at the top of his game. Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, David Howell and Colin Montgomerie will all be standing in his way again.