Valspar Championship: Paul Casey beats Jason Kokrak and Louis Oosthuizen

Paul Casey
Paul Casey

Paul Casey became the first back-to-back winner of the Valspar Championship as he scraped a one-shot victory at Innisbrook.

Leaderboard

-8 Paul Casey

-7 Jason Kokrak, Louis Oosthuizen

-6 Sungjae Im, Bubba Watson

-5 Ryan Armour, John Rahm, Dustin Johnson


Day four report

Paul Casey became the first back-to-back winner of the Valspar Championship as he scraped a one-shot victory at Innisbrook.

It looked like the Englishman had thrown away his chance of claiming a third PGA Tour title with a bogey on the par-three 17th to tie for the lead with Jason Kokrak.

But the American then missed a putt for par on the 18th and Casey, who had held a one-shot lead going into the last day, held his nerve to finish eight under par - one over for the final round.

Casey, 41, became the third European winner in the last three PGA Tour events, following Francesco Molinari and Rory McIlroy.

Kokrak tied for second with South African Louis Oosthuizen, who shot a two-under round of 69.

Bubba Watson was one of a number of players to shoot a final round 68 as he tied for fourth with South Korea's Sungjae Im.

Day three report

Paul Casey leads Dustin Johnson by one at the Valspar Championship as the defending champion and tournament favourite prepare for a Sunday showdown.

Casey, who came from behind to deny Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods here a year ago and in the process ended a lengthy drought on the PGA Tour, bogeyed the last in a round of 68.

Minutes earlier, Johnson had made an unlikely birdie from the fairway bunker at the very same hole, and what had been a three-shot lead for the Englishman suddenly became one.

Johnson arrived at Copperhead on the back of his best ever finish in the PLAYERS Championship, and broke 70 for the third day running to reach eight-under.

With his only mistake a three-putt at the ninth, it was an ominous display from the prolific American and Casey, a rare winner these days, will have his work cut out to see it through.

Not that we're guaranteed a two-horse race, after Jason Kokrak made a hole-in-one on his way to third place and Luke Donald birdied the last to keep his title hopes alive.

Kokrak is seven-under, two back after a five-under back-nine, which included a famous ace at the par-three 15th hole.

Donald, who shares fourth with Scott Stallings, birdied the first and last holes, playing the remaining 16 in one-over, and seven years on from winning a play-off for this title remains in the hunt.

So too does Louis Oosthuizen after a third-round 66 saw him cut through the pack to sit in a group on five-under which includes Jim Furyk.

Casey knows all too well that these are players with a chance to win, having been off the pace before beginning his charge last year.

On Sunday, the challenge is an altogether different one and it's Johnson who remains favourite.

Day two report

Defending champion Paul Casey moved into contention for back-to-back victories in the Valspar Championship with a second round of 66.

Casey carded an eagle, four birdies and a solitary bogey on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort to share the lead with American Austin Cook on six under par.

Luke Donald dropped two shots in his closing four holes to go from a one-shot lead to one-shot behind Casey and Cook, but is still well placed going into the weekend.

Starting on the back nine, Casey birdied the 10th, 11th and 14th to reach the turn in 32 and also birdied the first before holing from 27 feet for an eagle on the par-five fifth.

The 41-year-old Ryder Cup star dropped his only shot of the day on the ninth after finding sand off the tee and with his approach to the green, but was happy to bounce back after a missed cut in the Players Championship last week.

"I feel really good about it because last week was rubbish," Casey told PGA Tour Live. "For whatever reason I struggled a little bit round Sawgrass and that frustrated me, annoyed me, (ahead of) coming in here trying to defend my title which I'd love to do because I've never defended a professional title.

"I've worked very, very hard on the game and it's slowed things down, quietened the transition at the top of the swing, and I like slopey greens. These are very, very difficult greens but that's the way I like them and it's why I play well at places like Augusta as well."

Playing alongside Casey, Dustin Johnson carded a second consecutive 69 to lie two shots off the lead on four under par.

"It was wonderful playing with the world number one the last two days to see the quality of his game and the quality of mine was pretty good too," added Casey, whose victory last year was his first on the PGA Tour since 2009.

"It's clicked and it's nice to turn it around after the missed cut last week and suddenly be, not in control of this event, but I'm near the top which is good."


Day one report

PGA Tour rookie Sepp Straka shot a five-under-par 66 to take a share of the first-round lead at the Valspar Championship in Florida.

The 25-year-old, the first Austrian to earn a tour card, has missed six of nine cuts so far but five birdies in 10 holes from the fifth saw him card only his eighth sub-70 round this season.

Ranked 365th in the world, he shared top spot with American Joel Dahmen, whose best finish in three seasons on the tour is joint second at the 2018 John Deere Classic.

Just a shot back, however, are British duo Russell Knox and Luke Donald.

Scotsman Knox had an erratic round with five birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey but the undoubted highlight was an albatross on the 11th where he holed out from 275 yards.

Donald's round was much less dramatic with five birdies spoiled by his only dropped shot at the last.

English duo Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett were in the large group on two under with compatriot Paul Casey, the defending champion, a shot worse off.

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