CROMWELL - Paul Casey has come close to winning tournaments plenty of times. He just always seemed to find a way to come up short.
It took Casey nine years to break his PGA Tour winless streak at the Valspar Championship in March. Now, the world’s No. 13 golfer will enter Sunday’s final round at the Travelers Championship in the perfect position to capture his second win of the season.
Casey leaped to the top of the leaderboard after shooting an 8-under 62 to move to 16-under and take a four-stroke lead over Russell Henley (-12).
“The last couple of seasons not winning has been frustrating, but the reason for it was not putting well enough,” Casey said. “You know, I've made gains on the back end of last year, working on the putting. If I go out there tomorrow and I hit it the way I normally hit it and I putt well, you know, then I'm fairly confident I'm very keen to get another win, and I'd love it to be tomorrow. But if it's not tomorrow, I still think I can get one or two before the end of the season.”
Casey placed second at TPC River Highlands in 2015, when he lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson, 17th in 2016 and tied for fifth last year.
On Saturday, the Englishman played the course with precision and had six birdies and an eagle, which came on the par-4 15th after he sank a 23-foot putt. Casey was also aided by his ability to hit every green off the tee and has a streak of 23 straight heading into the final round.
It all culminated in Casey tying his low round on Tour.
“It's always a golf course I've felt comfortable on,” Casey said. “Today was just one of those days where I didn't really miss a shot, and if [my caddie Johnny and I] did, we missed it in the right place. The lines on the putts were popping out for me, and the hole looked to reasonable size, bigger than normal, and just a real joy.”
But at Valspar, Casey had the advantage of playing from behind and well ahead of the final group. On Sunday, that roll will be reversed with Casey now the one to chase and, as of right now, the one to beat.
That sits just fine with him.
“You'd always rather have a lead,” Casey said. “You know, when you're behind, there is no room for error. I'm excited. I've got confidence in my game. I've got confidence with the man standing next to me, confidence in the game plan of how to get around this golf course. I can't, obviously, determine what everybody else is going to do, and I've got to sort of expect I've got to shoot something decent.”
That final round can’t come soon enough.
“I'm looking forward to it more than anything else,” Casey said.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com