Paul Casey Holds Off Tiger Woods to Win Thrilling Valspar Championship 2018

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 11, 2018

PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 11:  Paul Casey of England reacts after a putt on the 15th green during the final round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 11, 2018 in Palm Harbor, Florida.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Paul Casey pulled off a dazzling come-from-behind win at the 2018 Valspar Championship with a 65 in the final round to finish at 10-under par.

It's been nine years since Casey's first victory on the PGA Tour. His previous triumph was at the 2009 Shell Houston Open.

Tiger Woods missed an opportunity to force a playoff when his birdie putt on the final hole stopped short. He was forced to settle for par and a tie for second place with Patrick Reed at nine-under.

Reed was tied with Casey on the final hole before leaving his second shot just short of the green and wound up settling for a bogey to fall off the lead.

Here's the top of the leaderboard from Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, with full results via PGATour.com:

1. Paul Casey (-10)

T2. Tiger Woods (-9)

T2. Patrick Reed (-9)

4. Sergio Garcia (-8)

T5. Rory Sabbatini (-7)

T5. Justin Rose (-7)

7. Jim Furyk (-6)

T8. Jason Kokrak (-5)

T8. Webb Simpson (-5)

T8. Branden Grace (-5)

T8. Trey Mullinax (-5)


2018 Valspar Championship Purse (via Golf.com)

1. Paul Casey: $1.17 million

T2. Tiger Woods: $572,000

T2. Patrick Reed: $572,000

4. Sergio Garcia: $312,000

T5. Rory Sabbatini: $247,000

T5. Justin Rose: $247,000

7. Jim Furyk: $217,750

T8. Jason Kokrak: $182,000

T8. Webb Simpson: $182,000

T8. Branden Grace: $182,000

T8. Trey Mullinax: 182,000


Casey was barely a factor on the leaderboard coming into the final round. He shot an even-par 71 to sit at four-under in 11th place after 54 holes.

In making a dramatic turnaround to win in Florida, Casey shot a 65 on Sunday to tie Tyrone Van Aswegen, Scott Stallings and Sergio Garcia for the lowest single round of the tournament. He did it by being economical with his putter, per the PGA Tour:

It's no surprise that Casey's two best rounds at the Valspar Championship were his most successful on the green. The England native gained 2.04 strokes on the green en route to a 68 in the second round and had a 1.66 mark in the final round.

The Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker had some fun with Casey's stellar day on the green compared to Woods:


Paul Casey only had 21 putts today. 🔥 Wow. 🔥 https://t.co/oEh9ul2mY9

After things were going so well for Woods, especially with the putter, over the past two days, he fell off on Sunday. The 14-time major champion lost 0.94 strokes on the green, helping to negate his reaching 14 of 18 greens in regulation.

On the front nine alone, Woods needed almost as many putts as Casey did over 18 holes:

Tiger Tracker @GCTigerTracker

Just noticed leaderboard. Any chance Tiger and Paul Casey accidentally switched putters today?

It wasn't a bad round overall for Woods, who finished with a one-under 70. He just needed to maintain his momentum from the previous two days when he broke 70 to have a shot at winning.

ESPN's Mike Greenberg was one of many people who were happy to see Woods back in contention at a tournament:


Front 9 stats for @TigerWoods ... 5/7 fairways hit 7/9 greens hit 17 putts He's T4 and 2 back. https://t.co/OLTc1CT788

Woods did have a chance to tie for the lead going into the 18th hole with his best putt of the day from 43 feet away from the hole:

Mike Greenberg @Espngreeny

Just not his day. But what a great thing for the sport to have him back in the mix. And he's going to get better. #Tiger

Proving that Woods still has the power to generate buzz like few athletes in any sport, his birdie elicited this response from social media:


TIGER WOODS!!!!! 1. Shot. Back. #QuickHits https://t.co/EzmFJvu0sN

Justin Verlander @JustinVerlander

Are you kidding me @TigerWoods ?!?

Tyrrell Hatton @TyrrellHatton

Anyone else just scream when that putt went in 👀🐅

In a nice turn of events given the connection between the two players going back to the 1999 PGA Championship, Woods finished one spot ahead of Garcia.

Garcia started the final round in 25th place at two-under par. He climbed 21 spots to finish alone in fourth place thanks to a 65, matching Casey for the low round of the day.

While the focus of this entire weekend will be on Woods because of his star power and steady return to form after three years of trying to battle back from injuries, Casey earned bragging rights over the entire PGA Tour thanks to a brilliant performance that he will attempt to carry into the Masters in under four weeks.


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