The Englishman won his 3rd PGA Tour title and 19th professional tournament with a successful defence of the Valspar Championship
Paul Casey Wins Valspar Championship
Paul Casey won his third PGA Tour title after victory at the Valspar Championship for the second-straight year.
The Englishman began the final day with the lead, one ahead of World Number One Dustin Johnson, and ended it with his one stroke lead intact
Casey needed to par the final hole to win and did so via a fairway bunker, hitting a wedge from 130 to the middle of the green and safely two-putting for the title.
The course at Innisbrook was firm on Sunday and playing difficult. Casey’s one-over 72 and eight under total was one better than Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Kokrak.
He is the first man in the tournament’s 19-year history to win it back-to-back.
Casey won last year having shot a 65 well ahead of the final groups but this year was much different.
He mixed four birdies and five bogeys but was always just ahead, although he did benefit from a bogey at 16 from Louis Oosthuizen.
Jason Kokrak, who made a hole-in-one on Saturday, was searching for his first PGA Tour title but a bogey down 18 proved costly.
Casey himself had a late bogey too, at the par-3 17th, but his par on 18 secured the title.
It has been a very strong start to the year for the 41-year-old, who led the Pebble Beach Pro-Am after 54-holes where playing partner Phil Mickelson overtook him.
He was 2nd there and was also T2nd at the Singapore Open and T3rd at the WGC-Mexico.
Casey moves up to 11th in the world and won $1.2m.
“I had a lot of confidence. My victory here last year put me back into a frame of mind, a comfort that I felt many years ago during my career, back in, pick a year, when I was winning consistently in Europe,” Casey said.
“People forget, I’m not a prolific winner but I’ve won 17 times around the world. It’s not bad. I would like it to be more, obviously. I know how to win, plain and simple. I think I had forgotten, and last year’s victory kind of maybe kind of broke the seal, for lack of a better term.
“Today was a very different attitude to maybe I had had the last three, four years, and an attitude that I had, and a comfort and a relaxed approach, confidence in my game. I still felt Dustin was the favourite. But it didn’t mean I didn’t think I could beat him.”
Other talking points from the Valspar –
The Englishman played very well and finished in a tie for ninth and just four back of Casey. Donald rose almost 400 spots up the world rankings to 548th and looks like he could still pick up titles. The former World Number One struggled with his back last year so let’s hope he can stay fit.
Playing in the final group, DJ shot a final round of 74 (+3) which was his first round in the 70s since the Genesis Open in February. DJ was bidding to win his 21st PGA Tour title and 3rd trophy of 2019 already but didn’t quite have it on Sunday. Still, he remains World Number One and heads into the WGC-Match Play as one of the favourites.
The Spaniard moves up to 8th in the world after yet another top-10. Rahm has eight top-10s in his last 10 starts, with the other two finishes being a T45 and a T12. Since turning pro in 2016, Rahm has missed just seven cuts in 69 tournaments, with his last missed cut coming back in August at The Northern Trust.
Venue: Copperhead Course, Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor, Florida
Date: Mar 21-24
Course stats: par 71, 7,340 yards
Valspar Championship Leaderboard 2019 –
1 Paul Casey -8
T2 Louis Oosthuizen -7
T2 Jason Kokrak -7
T4 Bubba Watson -6
T4 Sungjae Im -6
T6 Jon Rahm -5
T6 Ryan Armour -5
T6 Dustin Johnson -5
T9 Denny McCarthy -4
T9 Austin Cook -4
T9 Scott Stallings -4
T9 Luke Donald -4
*Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage