Casey and Donald bring the world to heel for England

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The Independent Online

After the week he might want to forget, it was entirely appropriate that Paul Casey should hole the clinching putt as England won the World Cup for only the second time. Controversy has raged around Casey following his comments about hating the Americans at the Ryder Cup, but a second team victory went some way to compensating for failing to win individually during the season.

After the week he might want to forget, it was entirely appropriate that Paul Casey should hole the clinching putt as England won the World Cup for only the second time. Controversy has raged around Casey following his comments about hating the Americans at the Ryder Cup, but a second team victory went some way to compensating for failing to win individually during the season.

Casey had finished fifth, third and second in the last three World Cups but with a new partner in Luke Donald, the progression reached a happy conclusion as England beat the hosts Spain, in the form of Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez, by a stroke after a thrilling afternoon's golf at the Real Sevilla club.

Only the pairing of Nick Faldo and David Carter in 1998 had previously claimed the World Cup for England since it began in 1953. To win, Casey and Donald had to produce the lowest final-round score since the event came under its present format in 2000. "I got a text from a friend saying it was the same weekend a year ago that 15 Englishmen came back with the Rugby World Cup from Australia and that inspired us to go and start strong," said Donald.

A poor day on Saturday had allowed the Spaniards to take over at the top of the leaderboard but the format switched back to foursomes and, as on Friday, Casey and Donald produced a 64. Remarkably, they were 16 under at foursomes and only 15 under at fourballs.

It is not as if they have similar styles, Donald being surgically precise, Casey inspired but occasionally erratic, but there is no bar to well-attuned opposites succeeding at this ticklish format. "I can't explain it," said Casey. "We just seem to click. We know each other's game and how we think and we never apologise. We trust each other. But I still can't believe we scored lower in foursomes than fourballs." Donald said: "This course allowed us to play to our strengths, with my iron play and Paul's putting. It was a different pressure to the Ryder Cup but our experience there helped us handle this."

Donald holed at the first to bring them level with the hosts, who dropped a shot at the short third to fall behind despite the encouragement of a large gallery.

Due to the sequence of par-threes, fours and fives on this course, it falls to one player to face most of the birdie-putts and, as on Friday, Casey was at it again. He rolled in putt after putt as England birdied seven holes between the fourth and the 12th to go four ahead.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley eagled the 13th and birdied the 14th to draw within two but finished third after a 65. Spain also eagled the 13th, after a wonderful long approach from Jimenez, and birdied the 15th to pull within one.

But at the par-five 16th, Garcia went for an aggressive shot from a poor lie and finished in the water. Jimenez's fourth shot gave them a chance of a par but Garcia missed from eight feet as England's ninth birdie put them three ahead. That was the margin at the last but Casey drove into the rough on the bank of a bunker and Donald had to lay up.

Casey's pitch came up on the lower tier and then Donald's long putt ran three feet past. Garcia had hit a brilliant second and Jimenez holed the four footer for the birdie to put the pressure on Casey's bogey putt.

"At least we made them win it," Garcia said. "It was gutsy for Paul to hole that putt. You have to give them all the credit. They were unbelievable. I thought our 66 was a flipping good score but it was not enough.

"It's disappointing but you feel worse for the people. They were amazing, there was so much atmosphere." Casey returns to his base in Arizona this week and will open the season in the States next year. He admits to wondering what he will be in for after the furore last week. "I'm looking forward to it but I'm also a bit worried," he said.

"I am proud of the way I handled myself this week. I was upset with what happened earlier in the week and it has been a distraction but I put all my focus into the golf. I'll be more thick-skinned from now on. All I'm going to worry about is working on my golf game but if I can repair any of the damage I will."

* Tiger Woods shot a three-under par 67 yesterday to win the Dunlop Phoenix for his first title since February and first victory in Japan. Woods, who entered the final round with a 10-stroke lead, hit five birdies and a pair of bogeys at the Phoenix Country Club to finish at 16-under 264, eight-strokes ahead of Japan's Ryoken Kawagishi, who shot a final-round 65. South Korea's KJ Choi also shot a 65 to finish third at six-under par, 274. "I feel great," Woods said. "To have won on this course and at this event with all the great past champions is a great feeling."

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