Valspar Championship - R3

Casey holds 1-stroke lead heading into Sunday

March 21-24
Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), Palm Harbor, Florida
$6,700,000
Round 1, Round 2, Round 4


Defending champion Paul Casey clung to a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Dustin Johnson despite a closing bogey in Saturday’s third round of the US PGA Tour Valspar Championship.

The 41-year-old Englishman missed a 14-foot par putt at the par-4 18th and settled for a bogey and a three-under par 68.

Casey stood on nine-under 204 after 54 holes at the Innisbrook Resort Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida.

“It feels really good,” Casey said. “I was patient for the most part and aggressive when I had opportunities.”

Johnson, a winner at last month’s WGC Mexico Championship, was next on 205 after a 67 with fellow American Jason Kokrak third on 206 after a hole-in-one on his way to matching the week’s low round on 66.

Casey relishes the challenge of playing alongside the world number one in Sunday’s last group.

“Playing with Dustin is going to be very exciting,” Casey said. “Any time I’ve got a chance to go up against world number one I’m excited about that.”

“I do what I do because I want to play against the best in the world. And obviously he’s the prominent one in the group of guys near the lead.

“Who is the favorite tomorrow? Probably Dustin. So I actually feel very kind of little pressure… it’s pretty simple. If I go out tomorrow and beat him I actually might win. Plain and simple. Great scenario.”

Casey has struggled to defend titles and turn 54-hole leads into victories but he stands a chance of doing both on Sunday.

He has won only once in five tries, and never broken 70, when leading a US PGA event after 54 holes. The win came at the 2009 Houston Open with a bogey on the first playoff hole to beat American J.B. Holmes.

Casey, who edged Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed by a stroke for the 2018 Valspar crown, has never defended a professional title.

But the British star has taken back-to-back titles multiple times as an amateur. He won the 1999 and 2000 English Amateurs and three consecutive Pacific-12 Conference trophies while studying at Arizona State University.

“My mindset now is I’ve won it, I have nothing to lose,” Casey said. “I’m feeling a good position, like I don’t have really any pressure. Now I’ve got one of those trophies. Yeah, I want another one, but it’s not as much urgency.”

Casey opened birdie-bogey, added a six-foot birdie putt at the par-4 sixth and made back-to-back birdie putts from three feet at the par-5 11th and eight feet at the par-4 12th.

Casey made a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-5 14th, but at 18, Casey found a greenside bunker and blasted out before rolling his par putt just off the right edge of the cup.

Johnson fired his 14th consecutive round in the 60s, the longest such run of his career or by any tour player this season.

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.

“It was a big birdie,” Johnson said. “I’m in a good position going into the round tomorrow. I played a solid round. Missed a couple birdie opportunities but other than that I played really well.”


Kokrak, seeking his first PGA crown after 197 starts over eight seasons, aced the par-3 15th with an 8-iron from 218 yards.

Kokrak delivered only the third ace in tournament history at 15 when his ball bounced twice and rolled 25 feet into the cup, briefly giving him a share of the lead at seven-under.

“We had 194 to carry it into the downgrain part,” Kokrak said. “It was into the wind. We knew if we flushed it, it would go right in and it was perfect.”

Britain’s Luke Donald, a former world number one who has battled a back injury, began and ended with birdies in shooting 70 to share fourth on 207 with American Scott Stallings.


Pos.
Player
Nat
To Par
R1
R2
R3
Total
1
Paul Casey
ENG
-9
70
66
68
204
2
Dustin Johnson
USA
-8
69
69
67
205
3
Jason Kokrak
USA
-7
69
71
66
206
T4
Luke Donald
ENG
-6
67
70
70
207
T4
Scott Stallings
USA
-6
69
68
70
207
T6
Louis Oosthuizen
RSA
-5
70
72
66
208
T6
Nick Taylor
CAN
-5
71
70
67
208
T6
Jim Furyk
USA
-5
69
71
68
208
T6
Curtis Luck
AUS
-5
70
68
70
208
T6
Sung-Jae Im
KOR
-5
70
67
71
208
T6
Austin Cook
USA
-5
69
67
72
208
T12
Matt Jones
AUS
-4
73
68
68
209
T12
Brian Stuard
USA
-4
68
72
69
209
T14
Sam Burns
USA
-3
69
74
67
210
T14
Russell Knox
SCO
-3
67
76
67
210
T14
Dylan Frittelli
RSA
-3
72
71
67
210
T14
Harris English
USA
-3
75
68
67
210
T14
Ryan Armour
USA
-3
70
72
68
210
T14
Mackenzie Hughes
CAN
-3
70
72
68
210
T14
Bubba Watson
USA
-3
69
71
70
210
T21
Sepp Straka
AUT
-2
66
76
69
211
T21
Denny McCarthy
USA
-2
68
74
69
211
T21
Bill Haas
USA
-2
72
70
69
211
T21
Brian Gay
USA
-2
73
69
69
211
T21
Jon Rahm
ESP
-2
71
68
72
211
T21
Lucas Glover
USA
-2
72
67
72
211
T27
Charley Hoffman
USA
-1
69
74
69
212
T27
Nick Watney
USA
-1
71
72
69
212
T27
Henrik Stenson
SWE
-1
70
73
69
212
T27
Roger Sloan
CAN
-1
70
72
70
212
T27
Joaquin Niemann
CHI
-1
69
73
70
212
T27
Cheng Tsung Pan
TPE
-1
71
70
71
212
T27
Russell Henley
USA
-1
69
72
71
212
T27
Rory Sabbatini
SVK
-1
70
69
73
212
T27
Kramer Hickok
USA
-1
71
68
73
212
T27
Shawn Stefani
USA
-1
68
71
73
212
T27
Roberto Castro
USA
-1
68
71
73
212
T38
Graeme McDowell
NIR
Par
71
72
70
213
T38
Zach Johnson
USA
Par
71
72
70
213
T38
Chesson Hadley
USA
Par
74
69
70
213
T38
Julian Etulain
ARG
Par
69
73
71
213
T38
Rafael Cabrera Bello
ESP
Par
71
71
71
213
T38
Satoshi Kodaira
JPN
Par
70
71
72
213
T38
Wyndham Clark
USA
Par
71
70
72
213
T38
Sam Saunders
USA
Par
71
69
73
213
T38
Brandt Snedeker
USA
Par
70
70
73
213
T47
Vaughn Taylor
USA
1
74
69
71
214
T47
Billy Hurley III
USA
1
74
69
71
214
T47
Sung-Hoon Kang
KOR
1
71
71
72
214
T47
Kevin Kisner
USA
1
67
75
72
214
T47
Danny Willett
ENG
1
69
71
74
214
T47
Joel Dahmen
USA
1
66
72
76
214
T53
Sergio Garcia
ESP
2
71
72
72
215
T53
Peter Malnati
USA
2
69
74
72
215
T53
Jonas Blixt
SWE
2
74
69
72
215
T53
Roberto Diaz
MEX
2
69
72
74
215
T57
Peter Uihlein
USA
3
72
71
73
216
T57
Danny Lee
NZL
3
72
71
73
216
T57
Hank Lebioda
USA
3
69
73
74
216
T57
Brandon Harkins
USA
3
73
69
74
216
T57
Anirban Lahiri
IND
3
70
71
75
216
T57
Kelly Kraft
USA
3
69
72
75
216
T57
Ryan Blaum
USA
3
73
67
76
216
T64
Chris Stroud
USA
4
72
71
74
217
T64
Patton Kizzire
USA
4
70
71
76
217
T66
Harold Varner III
USA
5
69
74
75
218
T66
Alex Cejka
GER
5
71
70
77
218
68
Andrew Landry
USA
6
72
71
76
219
T69
Morgan Hoffmann
USA
7
73
70
77
220
T69
Trey Mullinax
USA
7
71
72
77
220
CUT
Adam Hadwin
CAN
2
73
71
144
CUT
Adam Schenk
USA
2
75
69
144
CUT
Benjamin Silverman
CAN
2
71
73
144
CUT
Bud Cauley
USA
2
70
74
144
CUT
Chase Wright
USA
2
74
70
144
CUT
Dylan Meyer
USA
2
73
71
144
CUT
Kevin Tway
USA
2
74
70
144
CUT
Michael Thompson
USA
2
74
70
144
CUT
Ollie Schniederjans
USA
2
70
74
144
CUT
Richy Werenski
USA
2
74
70
144
CUT
Ryan Moore
USA
2
72
72
144
CUT
Sam Ryder
USA
2
74
70
144
CUT
Seamus Power
IRL
2
74
70
144
CUT
Steve Stricker
USA
2
73
71
144
CUT
Stewart Cink
USA
2
70
74
144
CUT
Tyler Duncan
USA
2
78
66
144
CUT
Charl Schwartzel
RSA
3
71
74
145
CUT
Chez Reavie
USA
3
72
73
145
CUT
D. A. Points
USA
3
73
72
145
CUT
Gary Woodland
USA
3
74
71
145
CUT
Jason Day
AUS
3
74
71
145
CUT
John Senden
AUS
3
74
71
145
CUT
K. J. Choi
KOR
3
72
73
145
CUT
Keegan Bradley
USA
3
68
77
145
CUT
Kenny Perry
USA
3
73
72
145
CUT
Robert Streb
USA
3
72
73
145
CUT
Akshay Bhatia
USA
4
74
72
146
CUT
Alex Prugh
USA
4
74
72
146
CUT
Branden Grace
RSA
4
71
75
146
CUT
Brian Harman
USA
4
74
72
146
CUT
Cameron Tringale
USA
4
72
74
146
CUT
Cody Gribble
USA
4
71
75
146
CUT
Fredrik Jacobson
SWE
4
73
73
146
CUT
J. T. Poston
USA
4
73
73
146
CUT
Jason Dufner
USA
4
71
75
146
CUT
Michael Kim
KOR
4
70
76
146
CUT
Rod Pampling
AUS
4
73
73
146
CUT
Ryan Vermeer
USA
4
74
72
146
CUT
Brian Davis
ENG
5
76
71
147
CUT
Chris Kirk
USA
5
76
71
147
CUT
Grayson Murray
USA
5
72
75
147
CUT
Hunter Mahan
USA
5
72
75
147
CUT
Jim Herman
USA
5
73
74
147
CUT
Kevin Streelman
USA
5
75
72
147
CUT
Kyle Jones
USA
5
74
73
147
CUT
Seth Reeves
USA
5
75
72
147
CUT
Beau Hossler
USA
6
75
73
148
CUT
Cameron Davis
AUS
6
75
73
148
CUT
Carlos Ortiz
MEX
6
73
75
148
CUT
Hudson Swafford
USA
6
72
76
148
CUT
Patrick Rodgers
USA
6
73
75
148
CUT
Scott Brown
USA
6
76
72
148
CUT
Tom Hoge
USA
6
73
75
148
CUT
Webb Simpson
USA
6
73
75
148
CUT
Adam Svensson
CAN
7
76
73
149
CUT
Brandon Hagy
USA
7
73
76
149
CUT
Brendan Steele
USA
7
76
73
149
CUT
Joey Garber
USA
7
74
75
149
CUT
Stephan Jaeger
GER
7
73
76
149
CUT
Max Homa
USA
8
78
72
150
CUT
Tyrrell Hatton
ENG
8
69
81
150
CUT
Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
MEX
9
76
75
151
CUT
Sang-Moon Bae
KOR
9
74
77
151
CUT
Ted Potter Jr.
USA
9
76
75
151
CUT
David Hearn
CAN
10
75
77
152
CUT
Martin Trainer
USA
10
77
75
152
CUT
Patrick Reed
USA
10
77
75
152
CUT
Sebastian Munoz
COL
10
79
73
152
CUT
Brice Garnett
USA
11
78
75
153
CUT
Scott Langley
USA
11
74
79
153
CUT
Jim Knous
USA
12
80
74
154
CUT
Rod Perry
USA
12
78
76
154
CUT
Austin Connelly
CAN
14
79
77
156
RET
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
KOR
Par
79
79
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