An Irish Open winner leads the Travelers Championship but it’s not Rory McIlroy or Padraig Harrington.
Paul Casey captured the 2013 Irish Open at Carton House and he’s now set to walk away with a second PGA Tour title this season, taking a commanding four-shot and a 16-under total into the final round at TPC River Highlands.
Casey is striving to become the first Englishman to capture the Travelers Championship since the inaugural event in 1952 and brilliantly muscled his way to the front with sizzling third round eight-under par 62.
The now Phoenix-based Casey capped his round in driving the green at the short 295-yard par-4 15th hole and then drained his 23-foot putt for an eagle ‘2’.
Casey went into the third round of the $USD 7m event sharing third place on eight-under par but raced into the lead thanks to back-to-back birdies at two and three and at the eighth and ninth holes.
The current World No. 13 then moved to five-under for his round in birding the 13th before jumping to seven-under courtesy of the 15th hole eagle. Casey then played a super second into the final green, a wedge from some 128-yard out to just three feet for a closing birdie.
The effort was Casey’s lowest score on the PGA Tour in well over three years since a similar 62 on day one of the 2015 Sony Hawaiian Open.
“There are a lot of things I like about this golf course including the fact that, as I said maybe yesterday or the day before, it’s a golf course which is open to all styles of play, having seen that with Bubba Watson, Corey Pavin play-off,” he said.
“There’s Jim Furyk shooting 58 two years ago and he’s not the longest guy on Tour. So, there are multiple ways of playing it. Good architecture, fantastic conditions, plus just a feeling of liking this event. You know this event where it sits in players’ kind of heart as their enjoyment of it. That’s just another factor of playing well.”
“If you don’t like playing a tournament, you’re not going to play well because you don’t want to be there. And this is just a good vibe all the way around.”
Earlier this year in March, Casey ended a far too long nine-year wait to capture just his second PGA Tour title and in the process deniedTiger Woods a win at the Valspar Championship on Florida’s west coast. Now six PGA Tour events later, like the old No. 12 bus, Casey is primed to win a third Tour title.
Rory McIlroy heads to the final day and also his last event Stateside before hosting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, sharing 15th place on eight-under. It was another frustrating day for McIlroy in starting on the back foot with two bogeys in his opening five holes for the first birdie of his round at the sixth.
McIlroy than capped his round with a birdie before holing a superb 43-yard chip shot for an eagle ‘2’ at the 15th, where Casey also walked off with eagle. McIlroy then for a second time in three days he bogeyed the 18th.
However, McIlroy’s third round was interrupted by an inquisitive squirrel, who forced him to back off on the first tee. The furry fan had both McIlroy and the crowd in hysterics and, though his bushy-tailed beastie was twice ushered away, it managed to defy the stewards and returned to the tee in time to watch the drive.
It didn’t help moments later when McIlroy hit his opening drive into the trees for a bogey.
Seamus Power, in contrast to McIlroy, birdied the last but the West Waterford player was left lamenting posting a 10th hole triple-bogey ’7’ after sending this tee shot OB.
And Padraig Harrington’s promising five-under 36-hole effort was spoilt by nothing short of a bizarre see-saw day in posting three birdies but eight bogeys in a round of 75 to fall back to a tie for 67th place on level par. Harrington was one-over par at the turn but posted four bogeys from the 10th to 15th holes.