Paul Casey says he’s confident he can defend the Valspar Championship after moving into a share of the lead at the halfway stage. The Englishman got the better of Tiger Woods last year to claims the title at the Innisbrook Resort and has picked up from where he left off 12 months ago, shooting a second-round 66 to move onto six-under for the PGA Tour event.
The 41-year-old fired four birdies and an eagle, but a bogey on his last hole cost him the chance to claim the lead outright, with Austin Cook joining Casey at the top of the leaderboard after he carded a five-under 67. Having missed the cut at the Players Championship last week, Casey is delighted to have rediscovered his rhythm in Florida and feels his game is good enough to make it back-to-back wins at the Valspar.
“I’ve never defended a professional title, which I would love to do,” he told Sky Sports. “I feel like I can around this golf course because it requires a certain amount of ball striking and quality putting. I like slopey greens and I worked very hard on the game after missing the cut last week.”
Luke Donald, making his second start of the year, had looked like making it a three-way tie for the lead after moving to seven-under four from home, only for two bogeys over his remaining holes to leave him one shot off the pace in a tie for third with United States’ Scott Stallings and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
The Copperhead Course has proven tricky over the first two rounds, with only 33 players under-par heading into the weekend. World No.1 Dustin Johnson is among that group, sitting two off the lead, while Jon Rahm, Danny Willett and Jim Furyk are also in contention.