Paul Casey holds his nerve to retain Valspar Championship crown

Mar 25, 2019, 00:56
Paul Casey holds his nerve to retain Valspar Championship crown

The Englishman led by three from Dustin Johnson and Jason Kokrak but saw that lead cut as he dropped a shot at the last while world number one Johnson escaped from a fairway bunker to make birdie, leaving him eight under par with Casey nine under.

Aberdonian David Law, who got into the event through his win in the Vic Open earlier in the season, sits joint 67th on two over after a 74.

A year ago, he rallied from five shots behind with a 65 and wound up winning by one shot over Woods and Patrick Reed.

Thirteen players are within five strokes of the lead heading into the final round, and 20 golfers are within six shots.

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The World No. 1 sank a 33-foot birdie putt at the par-5 14th and curled in a tricky 10-footer for birdie at 18 to join Casey in the last pairing.

"Champions always like the golf courses they win on", Casey said about the Copperhead Course.

Casey's 5-under-par 66 was tied for the low score for the second round and featured four birdies, an eagle (on the par-5 fifth hole) and just one bogey on the course that ends with the famed "Snake Pit", a three-hole, closing stretch that's among the hardest on the circuit.

Paul Casey plays his shot from the 16th tee during the second round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament at Innisbrook Resort.

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"We had 194 to carry it into the downgrain part", Kokrak said. Louis Oosthuizen, who had a 66 despite two bogeys on the last three holes, and Jim Furyk were among those four behind. Luke Donald, a past victor at Innisbrook playing for only the second time this year - and first since January - grinded his way to a 70 and joined Scott Stallings (70) three shots behind. Along with the two bogeys he carded, Johnson had three birdies and made some impressive shots.

Cook powered his way to first place behind five birdies.

Johnson looked to be giving up plenty of opportunities, especially on the par 5s. 1 and 11, just missed and chipped to short range before twice missing birdie chances.

On the next hole, a par 5 where he had to lay up from the rough, Johnson had a 104-yard wedge for his third shot that travelled only about 50 yards. He is coming of a tie for 12th at The Players. Still, he had a tree between his ball and the green. And then he made a 35-foot birdie putt.

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"It was a mixed bag today - a few bogeys, a few birdies", Donald said. "It's clicked (this week), and I'm near the top of my game, which is good". "Bogeys do happen, and if you can just minimize those, it puts you in a good position".