Paul Casey has put together quite a career in his 15-plus years as a professional golfer. He’s reached as high as No.3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, has contended in Majors and appeared on two winning Ryder Cup teams. Yet in 219 starts on the US PGA Tour, the Englishman has just one victory, which came eight years ago at the 2009 Shell Houston Open.
On Saturday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, Casey got one step closer to that elusive second victory, posting a five-under 65 to take a two-shot lead at 12-under 198 at the Tour Championship.
Through seven holes, Casey found himself at five under on his round thanks to three birdies and an eagle at the par-5 sixth. He dropped shots at the eighth and ninth to turn in three-under 32, but rebounded on the home nine, making two birdies and seven pars.
A victory on Sunday would cap off an efficient year for Casey, who has made 22 of 23 cuts and finished inside the top 25 an astounding 16 times. If he’s unable to close it out, it’ll be another close call to add to his resume, one that features 15 top-5 finishes in the last three seasons alone.
The round of the day belonged to Kevin Kisner, who posted a six-under 64 and sits just two back at 10-under 200. It’s just his third appearance in the Tour Championship, where he’s finished no higher than 26th.
Also at 10 under is Xander Schauffele, who carded a five-under 65, his low round of the week. After missing eight of his first 13 cuts on the PGA Tour, Schauffele has finished inside the top 25 eight times and earned his first victory at the Greenbrier Classic. Another good result at East Lake would make him the favourite to earn the PGA Tour’s rookie of the year award.
Three players are five shots off the lead at seven-under 203, including Justin Thomas, who carded an even-par 70 despite making five birdies.
Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed are also at seven under in a tie for fourth.
Six back at six-under 204 are Jason Day and Jon Rahm. Day got off to a blazing start, making five birdies and a bogey to turn in four-under 31. But he stumbled on the back nine, with eight pars and a costly double bogey at the par-4 16th to finish with a two-under 68. He’s looking for his third top-6 finish at the Tour Championship.
Rahm, 22, posted an even par 70 with four birdies and four bogeys. A finish inside the top 10 would be his 11th of the season.
Last week’s winner Marc Leishman shot 69 to be at one-over and 13 adrift of Casey.