For the best players in the world, the difference between a 72 and a 65 can be something as small as a slight grip change or a tweak in their position at address. Just ask Paul Casey, who had been missing to the left quite a bit on Thursday at the Travelers Championship, while still managing to shoot a first-round 65 and keep himself in the tournament.
To fix the miss, he consulted his swing coach and CBS analyst Peter Kostis, who had him stand a bit closer to the ball, much to Casey’s chagrin. But it worked, as the Englishman proceeded to fire a third-round 62 at TPC River Highlands, grabbing a commanding four-shot lead at 16-under 194 heading into Sunday.
“It was a strange one,” said Casey. “Because I called Peter (Kostis), texted him, not in panic mode, but on Thursday I had the big pulls going. Everything, every long club in the bag was five, 10 yards left, it felt like.
“We worked on it hard yesterday afternoon after the round, and it was pretty simple. Posture wasn’t good enough and I was standing too far from the golf ball. Those changes, and literally he had me on the range feeling like I was going to shank everything. I played comfortable. It’s always our rule, we work incredibly hard and we’re diligent in what we do, but when I go out there I play comfortable and try not to focus on what he’s told me too much, although it’s in the back of my mind.”
It helped Casey hit all 18 greens, and continues a streak of 23 straight going back to the 14th hole of his second round. Since then, he’s made nine birdies, an eagle and zero bogeys.
“That’s something I rarely see,” said Casey. “Eighteen greens in regulation. Clearly whatever he told me worked.”
If it works again on Sunday, Casey could be in line for his second win this season, which would be a remarkable achievement for the world No.13 considering he had just one US PGA Tour victory since he turned professional in 2000.
Russell Henley, who made a bit of noise throughout the week at the US Open, is Casey’s closest pursuer at 12-under 198. He’s carded rounds of 66, 65 and 67 to put himself in solo second through 54 holes.
J.B. Holmes, Anirban Lahiri and 36-hole leader Brian Harman are tied for third at 11-under 199.
Five players are at 10-under 200, including Jason Day. The Australian posted a four-under 66, and knows he’ll likely need something even lower on Sunday to catch Casey.
“Get through tomorrow in a couple under on the front side, and then try to let things go a little bit on the back side if you can,” said Day. “If you’re rolling pretty well, you can get something really deep on the back side, and try to put a little bit of pressure on him.
“It would need something pretty special tomorrow to try and catch him, because he looks like he’s firing on all cylinders right now.”
Two-time Travelers winner Bubba Watson is also at 10 under, as is Bryson DeChambeau.
New Zealand’s Danny Lee (67-68-66) is at nine under in T-11 and seven strokes behind Casey.