Casey takes healthy lead over mentor Campbell

Words of encouragement from US Open champion help to revive young English star

Paul Casey nudged his score a few more into the red here yesterday to stand at 13 under par and hold a two-shot lead at the British Masters.

But if those little statistics imply inexorable progress towards his biggest title to date, they shouldn't. Casey's day of consolidation was more inexplicable than inexorable. And if it hadn't have been for the young Englishman's putter it might even have been inexcusable.

Twenty-footers, 25-footers, 40-footers even: no length and no borrow seemed beyond Casey on the back nine yesterday, which was a good thing as his three-stroke overnight advantage had been whittled down to nought on the front nine.

The US Open champion, Michael Campbell, that increasingly impressive picture of golfing precision, was the inevitable chaser of the hare with three quick birdies that gobbled up the deficit. It was a gauge of Casey's growing maturity that his confidence did not disappear at the very same time.

"I'm extremely happy to enact a great escape with the score I did," said Casey, although to be fair his 70 was born of finding the hole in the ground and not any gaps in the perimeter fence. All in all, the 28-year-old enjoyed nine single putts, which is daft going by anyone's standards. But for a runaway leader who was having to summon the wherewithal to leave the pack flailing all over again? It showed bottle. A winner's bottle.

The 10th was a nerve-jangling case in point. The classic "shall I or shan't I?" hole is supposed to entice one to find water off the drive, not the approach, so when Casey's pitch ducked out into the pond on the left the portents fairly clanged. No matter, Casey simply holed a 12-footer to limit the damage to a bogey and from there the cup just got bigger and bigger. "Yeah, I made a lot of footage coming in," he said. "Long may it continue."

Long did it continue, with bombs dropping on five successive holes, the most explosive being a 20-pacer on the 13th. True, a bogey at the last did ruin his march home somewhat, although even that 15-footer for par looked in until its final turn. Should the lad from Cheltenham reprise a putting show remotely similar in its magnificence today then it will be all over and he will almost certainly be in the Ryder Cup for September. That would be welcomed in all quarters, especially the privileged ones.

For although golf is an individual sport, the big boys do not like to see what they view as a kindred spirit down and feared to be out. So when Casey missed seven cuts around this time last year, there were a few heavyweights kind enough to impart some advice. Ironically, the words Casey took most to heart came from Campbell, his playing partner and biggest rival today.

"I'm not saying I changed Paul's career, but it's nice to see him playing well again and maybe I contributed one per cent to it," said the New Zealander, who underwent something of a golfing breakdown himself at the start of last season before his self-awakening in Pinehurst. "My advice to him was simple: 'just hang in there, mate, be patient, and things will come to you'." Casey followed this mantra to the tee yesterday and Campbell may yet rue his generosity.

But saying all that, he is still in with a sniff at 11 under despite a nasty blocked sinus that saw him backing off a few shots to wipe his dripping nose. Sometimes this Maori's distance control with his short irons flummoxes the mind, never mind the yardage charts, and if he is, as he still has the cheek to maintain he is, "only 75 per cent match-fit" then last season's annus mirabilis could just have a sequel.

Campbell's 68 was one of only seven scores under 70 on a day when the damp conditions made the ball travel slower and then pick up mud when it landed. Only those at the very top of the game didn't struggle to some degree and Darren Clarke certainly did get bogged down early on. To play the last seven holes in four under, therefore, to finish three behind with a 70 shows the mark of the Ulsterman. This could yet be a Sunday to rival The Belfry's very best of them.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little