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.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon


Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

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

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London