'Bitter-sweet' round angers Casey
Saturday 23 May 2009
Never has a golfer looked so unimpressed at having just fired a 67 that had afforded him a two-shot lead at the halfway point of an event boasting a £675,000 first prize. But that just goes to prove where Paul Casey is right now; occupying a position in the game that is becoming loftier by the tournament.
Victory in the BMW PGA Championship tomorrow would take the Englishman to the rarefied heights of world No 3, following a remarkable beginning to the campaign which has seen him win his ninth event in Europe, his first in the US and finish runner-up in the World Match Play Championship in Tucson.
The 31-year-old (right) is obviously the heavy favourite to land his second Wentworth title (he won the British version of the World Match Play three years ago), although with five holes remaining yesterday his odds were even more prohibitive.
On the 13th, Casey recorded the second eagle of his second round when holing a "soft nine iron" from 163 yards. "I thought it was going to be short, so when the fans around the green reacted like they did it was pretty cool," he said. When he peered at the leaderboard it was cooler. Suddenly, at 10-under, he was four ahead and with two par fives to come this sizeable advantage would surely soon lengthen to unbreachable. "It was a chance to put some real distance between myself and the guys," was how Casey saw it.
Little wonder, therefore, that he labelled his afternoon as "bitter-sweet" when two bogeys hauled him back to eight-under and left those in a tie for second – including the first-round leaders, Anthony Wall and David Horsey, and the defending champion, Miguel Angel Jimenez – very much in touch.
"I made a proper mess of the 17th," groaned Casey, reflecting on a bogey six. "I made a proper mess of my four-iron as well, when I wrapped it around a tree. I'll have to take it to get fixed now, but that won't be easy. Finding the right shaft and everything."
What might have helped Casey's mood last night was the realisation that he is the only top 10 player left in the field after the No 4, Henrik Stenson, missed the cut. The Players hero of a fortnight ago in Sawgrass was not the only big-name casualty. Angel Cabrera, the Masters champion, slumped out at five over, while Lee Westwood's two 77s verged on the embarrassing.
Afterwards, the Englishman threatened "to do a [Ian] Poulter and [Padraig] Harrington" and skip the European Tour's flagship event. Commendably he resisted to take the lead of the refuseniks and blame the controversial greens which will soon be ripped up. "Ironically they were the best I've seen here for many a year," said Westwood. "But I missed only one cut in Europe last year and that was here. So make your own minds up about whether this course suits my eye."
Not good news for the sponsors or indeed for Tour officials who in these times are desperate to please the money men at every opportunity. At least John Daly assisted in this regard. The American crowd-pulled – once again he, and his colourful slacks, attracted the bulk of the galleries – and chipped in three times on his way to a one-under par 71 to ensure he made the cut on level par.
"I'm like Jesus – I love all of you!" quipped the 44-year-old when asked to explain his popularity. "I guess it's because I keep them on their toes. They just never know where I'm going to go or what I'm going to do. Hell, I don't even know where I'm going or what I'm going to do sometimes. I can honestly say I don't think I've chipped in three times in one full year before – never mind one day."
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