Saturday's golf: Casey puts on a clinic at Travelers
Cromwell, Conn. — Paul Casey has come close each of the three previous times he has played in Connecticut. He has a great chance to break through Sunday in the Travelers Championship.
Casey shot an 8-under 62 on Saturday to take a four-stroke lead into the final round.
Casey, whose win at Valspar in Florida in March was his first PGA Tour title in nine years, called the bogey-free round at TPC River Highlands his best of the year.
The Englishman had six birdies and an eagle — at the signature par-4 15th hole — where he hit his tee shot onto the green and then sank a 23-foot putt. He broke out of the pack hitting all 18 greens and has a streak of 23 straight heading into Sunday. He was at 16-under 194.
“It was clinical,” he said. “I did everything I wanted to do. I can’t do any more than that.”
Casey was second here during his first visit in 2015, came in 17th a year later and had a fifth-place finish in Cromwell a year ago.
“I love this golf course,” he said.
Russell Henley was 12 under after a 67,and J.B. Holmes (65), Anirban Lahiri (65) and third-round leader Brain Harman (69) were 11 under.
“I think I can shoot a low number on this course,” Henley said. “You’ve got to make the putts. I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what (Casey) is doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”
Jason Day shot 66, and Bubba Watson 67, leaving them 10 under. Watson came from six back to the 2010 event and beat Casey in a playoff in 2015.
Watson would join Billy Casper as the only players to win this tournament more than twice. Casper won his fourth Connecticut title in 1973.
“I’m hoping the weather is real sunny when I’m teeing off and as soon as I putt out it gets windy and a little be of rain and gives me a better shot at it,” he said.
Morning rain and drizzle throughout the day kept the greens soft, but nobody was able to stay with Casey.
The shot of the day came from James Hahn, who aced the 154-yard 11th hole. Hahn’s tee shot went over the greenside bunker on the right front of the hole, struck the bottom of the flag pole and went into the hole, which required some repair work to the front lip after taking the hit.
“Sorry, not sorry,” joked Hahn, who said this was the sixth or seventh ace of his lifetime, but the first on Tour.
U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka shot a 69 to get to 4 under. Koepka said he plans to go right at every pin Sunday, then take time off from golf before the British Open.
“I’m going to try to shoot 60,” he said. “You’re so far back, you’ve got to kind of make a move and if you shoot 10 (under), you never know what can happen.
It was a bit of a squirrely round, quite literally for Rory McIlroy.
His opening tee shot was delayed when a squirrel camped right in front of him in the tee box. McIlroy finally got the shot off, hitting it wide right and into the rough en route to a bogey.
McIlroy had an eagle at 15, but three-putted 18 for a bogey and a 69. He was tied for 15th place at 8 under.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth was 3 under after a 71. He opened 63-73.
At Rogers, Ark., Minjee Lee and Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship.
Lee, the Volvik Championship last month in Michigan, bogeyed her final hole to drop into a tie with the 19-year-old Japanese player at 13-under 129. The 22-year-old Australian is ranked ninth in the world and in search of her fifth career victory.
Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.
First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.
Esteban Toledo birdied four of the last six holes for a 6-under 66 and the second-round lead in the American Family Insurance Championship at Madison, Wis.
Five strokes behind tournament host Steve Stricker after an opening 69 in rain Friday at University Ridge, Toledo had six birdies in a bogey-free round to reach 9-under 135. The 55-year-old Mexican player won the last of his four PGA Tour Champions titles in 2016.
Defending champion Fred Couples (67), David Toms (66), Kent Jones (67) and Billy Mayfair (68) were a stroke back.
Stricker followed his opening 64 with a 74, ending his streak of Champions rounds under par at 30 — the fourth-longest streak in tour history. John Daly also was 6 under after a 70.
Danish golfer Lucas Bjerregaard shot a 5-under 67 to equal the week’s lowest round for a six-way share of the lead after the third round of the BMW International Open at Pulheim, Germany.
Bjerregaard had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey to finish on 5-under 211 — jumping 23 places and joining local favorites Martin Kaymer and Maximilian Kieffer, England’s Chris Paisley and Aaron Rai, and Australia’s Scott Hend at the top of the leaderboard.
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen and Chile’s Nico Geyger were one shot off the lead after rounds of 69 and 73, respectively.
Defending champion Andres Romero equaled the week’s best round (67) to be among a large group two shots off the lead going into Sunday, including three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.