Paul Casey may have been pipped to the Travelers Championship title in a sudden-death play-off, but the Englishman’s latest impressive showing is another sign that he is returning to his formidable best.
Casey played beautifully to tie with Bubba Watson on 16 under par on Sunday in Connecticut, having holed an eagle at the third and sunk four birdies in a final round of 65.
Watson was to win the tournament at the second extra hole, but it was a second runner-up spot and third top-three finish of the season for Casey, lifting the 37-year-old up to 23 in the new world rankings – the highest he has been since the end of 2011.
Since then he has struggled with injury and form, dropping as low as 169th despite picking up the odd win. It’s a strange one, but players can suffer when they are absent from the game for a while. You are not proving to yourself that you can do it, and that lets you down.
Casey looks to have turned that corner now and it’s surely a matter of time before he lands a victory. That’s bad news for his rivals, because he is such an accomplished player and a force to be reckoned with, but good news for European golf – as was Luke Donald’s closing 66 for a share of seventh place.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, meanwhile, enjoyed a great win at the BMW International Open in Munich, a tournament he clearly likes, having also triumphed there four years ago.
No spring chicken
Swede Henrik Stenson was just behind after a blistering final round of 65, while great credit goes to England’s Chris Paisley, who finished with a 66 to earn the biggest pay-day of his career. Paisley, who pocketed €125,000 (£89,000) for coming third, had to go through qualifying school to earn a European Tour card but I thought he handled the pressure very well in Germany.
Larrazabal, 32, is no spring chicken anymore and his win only highlights the shortage of new talent coming out of Spain. Much was expected of Rafa Cabrera-Bello but he has disappointed.
These things tend to go on waves, however. It wasn’t so long ago that Lee Westwood was the only Englishman in the world’s top 100.
Finally, well played Jeff Maggert to win the US Senior Open, his second senior Major, and narrowly beat Colin Montgomerie, who put up a great defence of his title to finish second. The high quality of play made for a great spectacle, which bodes well for the Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex at Sunningdale in a few weeks.
Discounted advanced tickets to see the legends of the game in action are on sale at www.senioropengolf.com Season tickets cost just £70, while one-day tickets are £25 and Wednesday practice day tickets only £12. Under-16s are admitted free when accompanied by an adult and parking is also free.