Paul Casey posted a final-round 65 to come from behind and win the Valspar Championship. Casey entered the day four shots behind 54-hole leader Corey Conners and stormed up the leaderboard after birdies on 11, 12 and 13 to get to 10-under. Casey then hung on, making pars on Innisbrook's difficult closing stretch to post 10-under. The 40-year-old Englishman only needed 21 putts on the round and score was good enough for a one-shot victory over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. Full scores
It was Casey's first win since the European Tour's 2014 KLM Open and his first win on the PGA Tour since the 2009 Shell Houston Open. Despite his win drought, Casey had been one of the world's most consistent players, posting 29 worldwide top 10's since the KLM win. The win moves Casey to 12th in the world rankings and into the discussion of favorites at Augusta, where he's finished in the top 6 the last three years.
While Casey's win was riveting, the story of the week was Tiger Woods, who fell one shot short of forcing a playoff and capturing his first win in almost five years. Woods was a fixture on the leaderboard all week and after canning a 42 ft putt on the 17th, headed to the 18th with a chance to tie Casey and force a playoff. While he couldn't convert his birdie try, the week shows that Tiger still has what it takes to win on the PGA Tour. A remarkable thought to consider when you flash back to the state of his back and personal life 9 months ago.
On the week, Tiger ranked 14th in strokes gained: off-the-tee, 8th in approach shots, 5th around the green and 39th on the greens. It was his best performance tee to green since 2013. Tiger's iron play was spectacular, he shaped shots both ways and regularly put himself in position to make birdies. Had a few more putts fallen, Tiger would have won by a few.
Tiger will tee it up next week at Bay Hill, a course he has won at 8 times. His t2nd at Valspar will make him a favorite in what is most likely his final start before the Masters. Woods drove it well at Valspar but laid back regularly with irons. It would be nice to see him play more aggressively and earn more wedges into greens.
Tiger reminded the world of his impact on the sport. Tiger’s presence on the leaderboard became the story of the entire sports world. Saturday's coverage of the Valspar earned the highest Saturday ratings of any PGA Tour event in 12 years.
A tough way to go down
After co-leader Patrick Reed pounded a driver down the middle of 18th fairway, it looked as though Tiger wouldn't even have a chance at winning. Reed's wedge shot came up a little short of the back flag, spinning back onto the middle tier of the green. From there, Reed made the cardinal sin of not hitting his putt hard enough and having it roll back down to his feet. Reed then chipped it from the green to tap in range for bogey and a disappointing t2nd.
21-year-old Sam Burns entered Innisbrook's difficult closing stretch in a tie for third, the exact finish he needed to earn Special Temporary Status on the Tour. Burns then fell victim to the Snake Pit, making a triple bogey on the 16th and a bogey on the 18th to fall to a tie for 12th. Burns needs 88 points to earn Special Temporary Status and will get another shot at earning them at this week's Bay Hill.
I am joined by SB Nation’s Brendan Porath and the PGA Tour’s Sean Martin to talk about Tiger’s performance, what we expect going forward, Sam Burns, Augusta and much more. Listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or the website.
Tiger recorded the highest swing speed of any player during the 2018 season during Saturday's round.
Sergio Garcia surged up the leaderboard after a 7-under 65 to finish in 4th.
Jim Furyk shot a final-round 66 to finish in 7th place, his first top 10 since the 2016 RSM Classic.
Despite a painful final-round 77, 54-hole leader Corey Conners earned his best PGA Tour finish, a t16th.
Trey Mullinax finished in a tie for 8th, a performance that included a nifty up-and-down from the hospitality tent.
Webb Simpson notched his third top 10 of 2018 with at t7th.
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth both missed the cut at +5.
The latest Masters odds have Tiger clocking in at 10 to 1.
The new Hero
England's Matt Wallace topped Andrew Johnston in a playoff to win the Hero Indian Open. Wallace started the day in a tie for the lead with 21-year-old Indian phenom Shubhanker Sharma. He shot a 68 to match Johnston at -11 and force the playoff. Two years ago, Wallace was playing on the Alps Tour. He won six times to earn a spot on the Challenge Tour in 2016, where he won in Portugal and is now a European Tour winner. Full scores
Campus Update with Will Knights
Round of applause for anyone who read past the Tiger Woods recap. Now, college!
The biggest tournament of the weekend was the General Hackler Championship out in Myrtle Beach. Georgia Tech held off Texas A&M to win the tournament by 5 shots. Chris Petefish of GA Tech won individually by 2 shots, with three other Yellow Jackets finishing in the top 25. The team now has 3 wins on the season and will most certainly be a factor in May. Texas A&M had four players in the top 15, but a rough second round dug them a hole they couldn’t get out of. The Aggies now have two wins and two runner-ups this spring.
Illinois’ Dylan Meyer ended up making the cut at the Valspar but struggled on Saturday and finished T-74. While it wasn’t Meyer’s best showing, expect him to get a few more spots in PGA Tour events this season.
Sponsor exemption Martin Trainer won the Web.com Tour's El Bosque Mexico Championship.
Vijay Singh claimed his first PGA Tour Champions Title at the Toshiba Classic.