Saturday, May 27, 2017

Paul Casey two off lead with a round to go

at steamy Fort Worth, Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas. Webb Simpson leads New Zealander Danny Lee and England's Paul Casey, pictured above, by two strokes heading into Sunday's final round at the Dean and Deluca Invitational.

Simpson felt almost as if he had just played a round in a major after a steamy Saturday.
For the 2012 U.S. Open champion, and pretty much everyone else at Hogan's Alley, it was a mentally draining day at the traditional tree-lined course where temperatures were in the upper 90s, with a heat index of 108 degrees and wind gusting to 25 mph.
"There is so much thinking involved on every shot," Simpson said.
Even so, Simpson shot a 3-under 67 to break out of a crowd and take the third-round lead.
At 9-under 201, Simpson is two strokes ahead of Casey (68) and Lee (69) after both of them made long birdie putts at the 18th hole. Stewart Cink (66) and Kevin Kisner (70) are three strokes off the lead.
"It was a good grind day," Lee said. "It's tough out there with the wind blowing sideways."
Defending champion Jordan Spieth shot 68 to get to 4 under, even with caddie Michael Greller leaving the course after 11 holes because of heat exhaustion.
Part of a four-way tie for the 36-hole lead, Simpson went ahead alone to stay after consecutive birdies to start his back nine. He made a 6-foot birdie putt at the 387-yard 10th and a 12-footer at the 630-yard 11th before finishing with seven consecutive pars.
Simpson leads after three rounds for the fifth time in his career, and first since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2013 that was also the last of his four US Tour victories. He lost in a play-off to Hideki Matsuyama at Phoenix in February.
"Definitely feel like (the season has) ebbed and flowed," he said. "I feel like that's starting to happen more, where I'm part of the conversation of contending. That's a good feeling. I know what I'm doing is working."

Playing in the final group, Simpson birdied the first two holes Saturday. He gave one of those back with a bogey at the par-3, 192-yard eighth after missing the green with his tee shot. His only other birdies were at Nos. 10 and 11.      

Paul Casey’s only US Tour win remains the 2009 Shell Houston Open. Stewart Cink’s last TOUR win was also in 2009 – The Open Championship. Casey, tied for second with Danny Lee, is two shots back of Webb Simpson; Cink is three shots off the pace.
Both are excited about the possibilities on Sunday.
“I think in your career out here, season after season, you give yourself five or six chances to win, being in the mix on Sunday,” Cink said. “One of those times, it might happen, maybe more.
“You can’t expect it to happen unless you get yourself in position on Saturday. Got 18 more holes to go. I would love to be down the stretch in the mix here, too, and enjoy that challenge.”
Cink actually has been in the mix before at Colonial. In 2000, he led by three shots after 54 holes, but closed with a 71 and lost to Phil Mickelson, who shot a 7-under 63.
“When I finished that tournament, that was one that I remember I probably let get away,” Cink said. “… I took it and learned what I could from it and tried to get a little bit better that day and the rest of the year. It did become a good year for me.”
As for Casey, he’s won five times on other tours since his win in Houston, the last in 2014 at the European Tour’s KLM Open. He said the few times since then that he’s been in contention, “I haven’t been firing on all cylinders. If I can string together the ball-striking that I’ve been doing and hole putts, then my chances are better than they were before.”
Casey said he feels “a pretty good calmness” about entering Sunday’s round in contention.
“I would like this to be kind of like a new norm, if possible,” he said.
The Englishman, a regular on the US Tour, made a 25-ft birdie putt that had just enough speed to fall into the cup at No. 18. He was 1 over for the day without a birdie until starting his back nine with three birdies in a four-hole stretch that included a bogey.
"I had missed a lot of good looks for birdies and opportunities, although I'm not complaining," Casey said. "Happy I shot under par."




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