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Paul Casey goes for rare three-peat at Valspar Championship

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Pat Riley trademarked the time period three-peat in 1988 whereas the Los Angeles Lakers have been going for a 3rd consecutive NBA championship.

He could rating some royalties this week as Englishman Paul Casey bids to win the Valspar Championship and change into the primary on the PGA Tour to win the identical occasion in three consecutive editions since Steve Stricker claimed the John Deere Championship from 2009-2011.

“It would just be extremely cool, flat out. I think even more so with the gap, as well, with the one-year sort of hiatus,” stated Casey, noting that final yr’s version was the primary event to be canceled following the Players Championship being known as after one spherical in March. “Yeah, it would just be very cool.”

In 2018, Casey delivered a scintillating 6-under 65 within the ultimate spherical and waited for greater than an hour to see if Patrick Reed or Tiger Woods might catch him. That victory ended a nine-year spell between PGA Tour victories for Casey. A yr later, he performed within the ultimate group and wanted to 2 putt a slick downhill 18-foot putt on the ultimate gap to change into the primary back-to-back champion of the Valspar Championship.

“I could have putted off the green and I didn’t, that was the most satisfying feeling, halfway through knowing that ball was the perfect weight,” he stated.

Asked which victory meant extra to him, Casey smiled and stated, “Your last win is always your best one because it’s the freshest.”

Paul Casey performs his shot from the sixth tee through the ultimate spherical of the Valspar Championship golf event at Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead Course. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort is the location of two of his three PGA Tour victories in 250 profession begins. (He additionally counts 15 European Tour titles to his credit score.) What makes this venue such a contented looking floor for Casey? It’s a ball striker’s paradise, which is correct up Casey’s alley.

“This golf course is kind of a 175- to 200-plus golf course,” he defined. “That’s where the premium is, and that’s what I do well.”

This season, Casey ranks first in common proximity to the opening on strategy pictures outdoors 200 yards at almost 42 ft, which is an effective 12 ft higher than the Tour common. Moreover, Casey has ranked within the prime 15 of Strokes Gained: Approach for seven consecutive years and is on observe to make it eight, rating No. 14 this season.

“When he’s on, it’s really impressive,” stated World No. 2 Justin Thomas. “I mean, the sound his ball makes when it comes off his irons, compresses it, it’s a short, compact move … it’s fun to watch.”

For Casey to drag off the rare three-peat – over the past 40 years there have solely been eight situations of a participant successful a PGA Tour occasion three or extra instances in a row. In addition to Stricker being the newest to take action, Tiger Woods turned the trick a exceptional six instances and Stuart Appleby as soon as – he’ll must contend towards the top-two gamers within the Official World Golf Ranking, Dustin Johnson (No. 1) and Thomas, in addition to 18 of the highest 50.

“I feel like the pressure is not on me,” Casey stated. “We’ve got Justin Thomas and guys like that playing this week, and the focus is going to be on them, so I feel like I’m kind of in a sweet spot and raring to go.”

Casey, who has recorded 4 top-10s in 12 begins through the 2020-21 season and received the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic at the tip of January, recalled successful the Pac-12 Championship three consecutive years from 1998-2000 and having captured back-to-back titles at the English Amateur.

“I wasn’t really that nervous,” Casey stated of the novice occasion. “There was a level of expectation, but it was overwhelmed by actually I felt like there was no pressure because nobody is expecting me to do it, which is a little bit the same case this week.”

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