England’s Paul Casey fired a closing round of 65 to win the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort in Florida by one shot over Patrick Reed and a resurgent Tiger Woods.
Paul Casey began the final round of the Valspar Championship five shots off the lead but he carded a superb 65 to post a four-round total of 10-under-par that none of those following could match.
Casey made three birdies in a row from the 11th to move to 10-under-par and he held his nerve over the testing closing stretch at Innisbrook to finish on that number.
The Englishman then had to wait for over an hour to see if the players behind could match or better the mark he had set.
Patrick Reed looked to be on course to, at least, tie Casey atop the board when he stood in the middle of the 18th fairway with his score at 10-under. With just a wedge in his hand, he twirled the club after playing his second shot, thinking he had fired his approach in close. But it came up 20 feet shy and fed back down to the front of the green. From there he elected to putt through the edge of the fringe and his birdie effort came up woefully short and ended up tumbling back down the slope to his feet. He chipped his fourth shot from on the green but was unable to hole out for par. The resulting bogey saw him finish the week one back of Casey.
Tiger Woods started fast on Sunday with a birdie at the 1st hole. But he dropped one on the 4th and struggled to get the putter going from then, reeling off pars all the way to the 17th.
On the penultimate green, Tiger was eight-under and facing a testing, right to left, downhill, 40-foot birdie putt. It had to drop if he were to have any chance and, incredibly, he rolled it straight into the middle.
Tiger needed a birdie on the final hole to force a playoff and, although he found the putting surface with his approach, he was unable to hole a second straight long putt and he, like Reed, came up just one shy of Casey’s 72-hole score.
For Paul Casey it was just his second win on the PGA Tour, his first coming nine years ago in the 2009 Houston Open. He will now go into the year’s first Major full of confidence. He has finished in the top-10 five times at The Masters and will be hoping that he might secure a maiden Major title at Augusta.
Another man who will fancy his chances in The Masters is Tiger Woods. Following this incredible performance, there can be no doubting that he is back. His odds for Augusta have been slashed to 10-1.
Justin Rose had a disappointing day. He was just one off the lead through 54 holes but he struggled on Sunday and finished tied for fifth. Spain’s Sergio Garcia enjoyed an excellent final round of 65 and the defending Masters champion will take great confidence from his fourth place finish at Innisbrook.
Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor, Florida
Purse: $6,500,000 Par: 71
1 Paul Casey (Eng) 70 68 71 65 274
T2 Patrick Reed (USA) 71 69 67 68 275
T2 Tiger Woods (USA) 70 68 67 70 275
4 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 70 72 69 65 276
T5 Rory Sabbatini (RSA) 70 71 67 69 277
T5 Justin Rose (Eng) 70 69 66 72 277
7 Jim Furyk (USA) 70 73 69 66 278
T8 Jason Kokrak (USA) 72 67 72 68 279
T8 Webb Simpson (USA) 71 78 70 70 279
T8 Branden Grace (RSA) 73 68 68 70 279
T8 Trey Mullinax (USA) 72 68 69 70 279
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage