A longtime golf presence took home the trophy at the Valspar Championship outside of Tampa Bay. But it wasn’t Tiger Woods, instead, it was Englishman Paul Casey who grabbed his second PGA Tour victory and his first since the 2009 Shell Houston Open.
Casey did it with a 6-under 65 finishing his round an hour before the leaders, but the 10-under mark held up and the Englishman with 23 top-5’s since 2009 is finally a winner on tour again. Woods turned in a final round 70 to come up one shot short. He hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, but irons shots weren’t close enough and the putter just wasn’t there on Sunday. Patrick Reed, the other guy in red and black, had a chance to go to a playoff before a bogey on 18 derailed his chances of claiming his sixth PGA Tour win.
Let’s talk Tiger for a moment. It’s been 1,680 days since Tiger last won in the fall of 2013 and it’ll be at least seven more before he gets another one. But the runner-up finish was also his best in almost five years. Tiger’s ability to play whatever shot he needed was impressive this week. For example, on the par-3 17th Tiger hit a butter cut on Thursday to 18 inches and a draw to the same green on Sunday that resulted in another birdie. The ability to play different shots suggests Woods is playing golf instead of his swing. Oh, and his speed is still incredible.
It might not have ended in a victory for Woods, but one thing is clear; Tiger is back and now everyone knows it. There were other things to note about this week’s Valspar, here are three takeaways from the Copperhead Course.
Takeaways from the Valspar Championship
Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy struggled, again.
Another tournament in the books, another tournament where Spieth struggles on the greens, and McIlroy looks out of sorts. Both golfers finished at +5 and missed out on the weekend. The two had only seven birdies combined while recording 15 bogeys between the two of them. Numbers like that suggest bad putting and less than stellar ball striking. Neither player is in the position or form they’d like to be in with the year’s first major quickly approaching.
Sam Burns is going to win, soon.
I’ve been really impressed by the way Sam Burns has carried himself late in golf tournaments over the last month. Going back to the Honda Classic, Burns was paired with Tiger for the final round when he outdueled Woods and finished in a tie for eighth. On Sunday, Burns was 8-under standing on the 16th tee before a 4-over stretch at the Snake Pit knocked him out of the top-10. His youth was not the reason for his struggle though, the Snake Pit bites the world’s best every year. The PGA Tour rookie hung around all day and just wouldn’t fade away throughout most of the final round. He is clearly OK with the big stage and has the game to match it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Burns in the winner’s circle sometime this season.
Tiger Woods is so good for the game of golf.
This isn’t exactly a secret, but in case you had forgotten you were reminded of it this week. The ripple effect of Tiger Woods is incredible. Woods creates a buzz and an energy in the air that no one else can. The crowd is bigger, the energy is greater, and the cheers are louder. The people flock whether he is playing well or not, but when Tiger is in contention, every tournament has a major-like buzz. I can only imagine what it will be like when an actual major comes around.