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Casey wins back-to-back Valspar Championships

Mo Yoshimoto
Overnight leader and defending champion Paul Casey navigated a 1-over-par 72 to win the Valspar Championship by one.

Valspar Championship

Palm Harbor, Florida

 

Playing out of the final twosome, second-round co-leader and third-round leader Paul Casey authored a 1-over-par 37-35=72 in Sunday’s final round at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort for a 72-hole tally of 8-under 276, good for a one-shot victory over runners-up Louis Oosthuizen (69) and Jason Kokrak (71), and becomes the first back-to-back champion in the tourney's 19th edition.

Two swings adrift and sharing 4th-place were Bubba Watson (68) and PGA TOUR rookie Sungjae Im (70).

The Englishman, 41, was a pre-tourney 22/1 outright and bags his third TOUR title in 250 events. It’s his first victory since a come-from-behind win here last year as a pre-tourney 20/1 outright, 23 starts and 54 weeks ago.

There, the Arizona State product erased a five-shot deficit with a week-tying-low 65 (out of the ninth-to-last twosome) to win by one over Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods in his 227th event, ending a winless drought of 8 years, 11 months.

His first title came at the 2009 Shell Houston Open as a 36- and 54-hole co-leader in his 77th career start. Casey then went 150 starts between wins No. 1 and No. 2, but just 23 starts between wins No. 2 and No. 3, so he’s finding it easier to win.

Quote after R4: “This feels very different from last year, it feels better. I’m enjoying this one so much more. Today, it was a struggle, but all week has been so cool as defending champion. My victory here last year put me back into a frame of mind that I, a comfort that I felt many years ago when I was winning consistently in Europe.”

While just his third TOUR title, Casey now owns 17 worldwide victories, including 13 in 296 starts on the European Tour, most recently the 2014 KLM Open.

Final Leaderboard (pre-tourney odds outright):

1- (-8, 276) Paul Casey (22/1)

2- (-7, 277) Louis Oosthuizen (40/1)

2- (-7, 277) Jason Kokrak (45/1)

4- (-6, 278) Bubba Watson (55/1)

4- (-6, 278) Sungjae Im (60/1)

Notes:

  • Repeat top-10 finishers from last year: Paul Casey (1-1); Jason Kokrak (2-8)
  • 2/1: Casey’s revised outright betting entering the final round.
  • 74: World No. 1 Dustin Johnson’s final-round score while paired with Casey, which included 0 birdies. He finished T6, three back, his fourth straight top-10 finish.
  • 66: Casey’s R2 score, which tied the low round of the week and moved him from T29 to T1.
  • 4: Last year in R1, Casey was in the fourth group off No. 10 tee in the afternoon wave. This year, he was in the fourth group off No. 1 tee in the afternoon wave in R1.
  • 4: Casey recorded four birdies in R4 on each of the four par 5s (Johnson played them in even-par w/ four pars).
  • 15: Casey played the par 5s in an astonishing 15-under for the week, 7-over for the rest of the holes.
  • 4.06: Casey’s par-5 scoring average, next best was Im, Jon Rahm (T6) and Nick Taylor (T24) at 4.38.

Casey’s Position by Round:

R1: T29 (4 back)

R2: T1

R3: 1

How Casey Won the Tournament:

Ranked 1st (or T1) in: SG: Tee-to-Green; Par-5 Scoring; Eagles; No Doubles or Worse; Birdie or Better Percentage; All-Around  

Note: See “Strokes Gained Leaders Stats” at the bottom, along with his full stats.

After opening with 70, week-tying-low 66 and 68, Casey began with a one-shot lead over pre-tourney fave (6/1), playing competitor and World No. 1 Johnson (74), and outbalanced four birdies with five bogeys (two, 3-putts) on nine (of 13) fairways and 11 greens in regulation.

He went out in 1-over 37 (2 birdies, 3 bogeys), now co-leading with Oosthuizen (3-under thru 11), and came home in even-par 35 (2 birdies, 2 bogeys).

On three occasions, Casey led by as many as two; on three occasions he co-led; and on 12 occasions he led by one. Most importantly, he never trailed.

Casey posted 0.920 SG: Off-the-Tee, -1.291 SG: Approach, 1.549 SG: Around, and -1.036 SG: Putting with 29 total putts, wrapping the week with one eagle and 18 birdies against 12 bogeys.

He records his eighth top 25 of the season in 10 starts and third top 10 (all top 3s), bettering a solo 2nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am four starts ago as the 54-hole leader.

Season Form: 1-MC-3-25-2-MC-16-16-18-13

His two missed cuts were by two at the Sony on even-par 140 (72-68), and by NINE at last week’s PLAYERS on 8-over 152 (78-74).

Casey’s Career:

Starts: 250

Cuts Made: 187 (74.8%)

Top 25s: 119 (47.6%)

Top 10s: 56 (22.4%)

Top 3s: 17 (6.8%)

Wins: 3 (1.2%)

 

56

This was Casey’s 56thtop-10 finish, an updated 22.4 percent top-10 strike rate. By comparison, last week’s PLAYERS winner Rory McIlroy has a strike rate of 46.7 percent, while DJ’s is 37.9 percent with an updated 94 top 10s in 248 events.

This is Casey’s 13th season on TOUR. He turned pro in 2000 and joined the TOUR in 2004 as a Special Temporary Member, earning privileges for the 2005 season via making the 2004 Ryder Cup Team.

Casey’s best finish in 2005 (in 10 starts) was T16 at the Ford Championship at Doral and finished 197th on the money list. He played the 2006 and 2007 seasons as a non-member, finishing in the top 125 on the non-member money list in 2007.

In 2008, Casey qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time and finished 74th in the standings (in 16 starts). In 2009, he won his first title at the Houston Open – in his tourney debut and 77th career start – prevailing in extra time over J.B. Holmes.

In 2010, he qualified for the season-ending TOUR Championship for the first time, finishing 6th in the FEC standings.

In 32 starts encompassing the 2012-14 seasons, Casey had ZERO top-10 finishes as he struggled with turf toe and a dislocated right shoulder incurred while snowboarding in Colorado.

Since 2015, Casey has qualified for the TOUR Championship each of the last four seasons, achieving a career-high 5th in the final FEC standings after 2016.

Strength of Field:

With a Strength of Field rating of 322 (down 48 from last year), Casey banks 50.00 world-ranking points and bumps four spots to 11thin the Official World Golf Ranking. His career high is 3rd after the 2009 Barclays.

OWGR: 11th (up 4)

Casey earns 500 FEC points, climbing 12 places to 4th in the standings. His career high is 3rd after the 2017 Safeway.

FEC: 4th(up 12)

Field Scoring Average:

This was the 19thplaying of the Valspar with all 19 contested on the Copperhead Course. It was the fourth edition since undergoing a near-total restoration after the 2015 playing.

Par 71 (36-35)

7,340 yards

 

R1: 72.14

R2: 72.11

R3: 71.24

R4: 72.14

Total: 71.98

Casey: 70-66-68-72

SG: Total: 11.629

Valspar Form: 1-1-MC-MC-37-42

Overall, this was Casey’s sixth Valspar and fourth cash. He MC’d in 2012 and 2014, didn’t play in 2015, 2016 or 2017, and returned last year to post his first top 30.

Casey did not lead or co-lead after any round last en route to victory, although T2 thru 36 holes. He was however, the 18-hole leader in 2011 with an opening 64, perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

Casey’s R2, week-tying-low 66 this week was his third-best lap on the par-71 layout and his scoring average in 20 rounds is now 70.60. Nine of the 20 laps are red numbers, six in his last eight.

Low Rounds:

R1: 66: Joel Dahmen, Sepp Straka

R2: 66: Paul Casey, Tyler Duncan (MC)

R3: 66: Jason Kokrak, Louis Oosthuizen

R4: 68: Bubba Watson, Jon Rahm, Sung Kang, Vaughn Taylor, Anirban Lahiri, Andrew Landry, Trey Mullinax

 

Bogey-free Rounds:

R1: (1): Sepp Straka (66)

R2: (1): Matt Jones (68)

R3: (3): Dylan Frittelli (67); Ryan Armour (68); Henrik Stenson (69)

R4: (0): NONE

 

Multiple Bogey-free Rounds: NONE

Draw:

A total of 70 pros from a field of 143 pros and one amateur made the 36-hole cut of 1-over 143:

 

36 (of 71) EARLY/late; 1 WD (Kyoung-Hoon Lee)

34 (of 72) LATE/early

 

12 players finished in the top 10:

 

EARLY/late (5):

Jason Kokrak (T2); Jon Rahm (T6); Ryan Armour (T6); Denny McCarthy (T9); Luke Donald (T9)

LATE/early (7):

Paul Casey (Won); Louis Oosthuizen (T2); Bubba Watson (T4); Sungjae Im (T4); Dustin Johnson (T6); Austin Cook (T9); Scott Stallings (T9)

Note: Casey was a LATE/early in last year’s win as well

 

12

12 (of 21) tourneys so far this season with a traditional draw:

Winners:

EARLY/late: 6

LATE/early: 6 (Casey)

Leader/co-leaders by Round:

R1: Joel Dahmen (finished T30): Drops to 0-for-2 as 18-hole leader/co-leader

R1: Sepp Straka (T46): Drops to 0-for-2

R2: Paul Casey (Won): Improves to 2-for-7 as 36-hole leader/co-leader

R2: Austin Cook (T9): Drops to 1-for-2

R3: Paul Casey (Won): Improves to 2-for-6 as 54-hole leader/co-leader

Runners-Up:

Louis Oosthuizen (70-72-66-69): Making his seventh appearance, the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, resident nets his third top 25, third straight, and second top 10, brushing aside a previous-best T7 in 2016.

Valspar Form: 2-16-7-MC-MC-MC-20

The 36-year-old improves to 5-for-7 on the season with three top 25s and two top 10s, bettering a T5 at the CIMB back in October in his season-opener.

Season Form: 2-56-MC-25-MC-29-5

The South African records his eighth career runner-up in 159 events, first since T2 at the 2017 PGA Championship (Quail Hollow Club; NC)

Career:

Starts: 159

Top 10s: 29

Top 3s: 12

Runner-up: 8

Wins: 1 (2010 Open Championship)

 

Jason Kokrak (69-71-66-71): Making his ninth consecutive appearance, the Ohio resident records his fourth top 25 and third top 10, second straight after T8 last year.

Valspar Form: 2-8-58-MC-7-14-MC-MC-MC

The 33-year-old improves to 11-for-11 on the season and is now T1 on TOUR in Consecutive Cuts Made with 17. He claims his sixth top 25 and third top 10, joining a T10 at Bay Hill (two starts ago) and T9 at The Honda Classic in back-to-back starts.

Season Form: 2-47-10-9-37-20-20-18-66-67-43

The Canadian-born American, chasing his first TOUR win in 197 events, settles for his third runner-up, first since T2 at the 2016 Northern Trust Open (Riviera CC; CA).

Career:

Starts: 197

Top 10s: 22

Top 3s: 5

Runner-up: 3

Wins: 0

TOUR Rookies &/or First-Timers:

Rookies: 15

Top-10 finishes: 1

Best finish(es): T4

 

Sungjae Im: T4 (70-67-71-70)

Season Form: 4-MC-3-51-MC-MC-7-52-12-16-37-MC-15-MC-41-4

Season Starts: 16

Top 10s: 4

Times Low Rookie: Seven

Note: Of the 15 rookies, Im was the only top-25 finisher.

 

First-Timers: 31

Top-10 finishes: 3

Best finish(es): T4

 

Sungjae Im: covered above

 

Jon Rahm: T6 (71-68-72-68)

Season Form: 6-12-45-9-10-5-6-8-22

Season Starts: 9

Top 10s: 6

 

Denny McCarthy: T9 (68-74-69-69)

Season Form: 9-41-MC-MC-33-MC-MC-46-41-15-7-MC

Season Starts: 12

Top 10s: 2

Season Leaders in Top-10 Finishes:

6: Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland

5: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

4: Sungjae Im, Jason Day, Lucas Glover, Patrick Cantlay, Marc Leishman, Charles Howell III, Scott Piercy

 

Consecutive Top 10s on TOUR:

6: Rory McIlroy (1-6-2-4-5-4)

4: Dustin Johnson (6-5-1-9)

2: Tommy Fleetwood (5-3)

 

Consecutive Top-10 Streak Ended at:

2: Jim Furyk (18-2-9)

Casey’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 70 players):

Eagles: 1 (T1)

Birdies: 18 (T3)

Bogeys: 12 (T40)

Double Bogeys: 0 (T1)

Birdie or Better: 26.39% (T1)

Birdie to Bogey Ratio: 1.58 (5th)

Par-3 Scoring: 3.05 (T24)

Par-4 Scoring: 4.17 (T55)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.06 (1st)

Driving Distance (all drives): 281.0 yards (16th)

Driving Accuracy: 35/52 (9th) at 67.31%

GIR: 46/72 (T5) at 63.89%

Proximity: 41’1” (65th)

Putts per GIR: 1.652 (5th)

Total Putts: 111 (T32)

Putts by Round: 27-27-28-29

Scrambling: 16/26 (47th) at 61.54%

All-Around: 1st

Leaders in Strokes Gained Stats:

SG: Off-the-Tee:

1. Jon Rahm (4.462)

2. Matt Jones (4.364)

3. Bubba Watson (4.314)

4. Rafa Cabrera Bello (3.707

5. Dustin Johnson (3.533)

6. Paul Casey (3.441)

 

SG: Approach-the-Green:

1. Henrik Stenson (7.289)

2. Shawn Stefani (5.862)

3. Russell Knox (5.860)

4. Alex Cejka (5.748)

5. Kevin Kisner (5.703)

7. Paul Casey (4.640)

 

SG: Around-the-Green:

1. Louis Oosthuizen (6.174)

2. Brandt Snedeker (5.904)

3. Lucas Glover (4.684)

4. Luke Donald (4.478)

5. Billy Hurley III (3.892)

9. Paul Casey (3.154)

 

SG: Putting:

1. Curtis Luck (8.795)

2. Sam Burns (6.227)

3. Denny McCarthy (5.840)

4. Bill Haas (5.750)

5. Jason Kokrak (5.529)

43. Paul Casey (0.392)

 

SG: Tee-to-Green:

1. Paul Casey (11.240)

2. Ryan Armour (9.704)

3. Sungjae Im (8.552)

4. Lucas Glover (8.544)

5. Bubba Watson (6.956)

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Season Winners (21):

8 winners were in their 20s

9 were in their 30s

4 were in their 40s (Casey age: 41)