2018 Valspar Championship Recap
Paul Casey Wins 2nd PGA Tour event while Tiger Woods Contends on Sunday
The 2018 Valspar Championship is in the books and proved to be one of the most exciting and fun to watch PGA Tour events of the young season.
Played at the Innisbrook Resort on the Copperhead Course, the Snake Pit lived up to its name. A challenging, but relatively short track by PGA Tour standards, the course did not give up much in terms of scoring.
By the time it was all said and done, Paul Casey managed a one-stroke victory with a score of 10-under par. The win was Casey’s first since the Shell Houston Open in April of 2009. Finishing behind him in a T-2nd were Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed.
From Casey’s breakthrough win to Tiger Woods reemergence as a contender, Ryder Cup implications to potential storylines for The Masters, we have you covered with our full 2018 Valspar Championship recap.
Perhaps the most impressive part of his victory is what it comes on the heels of. The week prior to the Valspar Championship, Casey lost a friend after a lengthy battle with cancer. Following the tournament, he dedicated the trophy to his friend.
No matter who the athlete is or what sport they play, the ability for a player to go out and block a personal tragedy is sublime. And to win under those circumstances is one of the things that makes sports spectacular.
While a majority of golf fans would have loved to have seen Tiger Woods get that comeback victory (myself included), I think we can all await that moment and appreciate Casey’s win and the meaning within it.
“It’s the only time he’s congratulated me immediately after a victory,” Casey said. “Normally, it’s the other way around. That’s something special. Just really cool. I’m sure he was disappointed he didn’t get the victory. I actually thought he was going to win today before the round started. I thought it was just teed up beautifully for him. I said a couple times, ‘If I don’t win this thing, I actually want Tiger to win it.’
“I’m glad it’s this way.”
Originally planning to play in this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Casey has since withdrawn to fly home and attend his friend’s funeral. He will be back in action at the WGC-Dell Technologies in Austin the week following the API.
While Tiger and most golf fans are surely disappointed that he couldn’t get one more putt to fall to have a chance to win, the progress he has made is undeniable.
In just four events, he has made significant strides towards the process of getting back to being the world’s most dominant golfer.
Following Sunday’s performance, Tiger is now 43rd in the FedEx Cup ranking. Most importantly, he appears healthy and poised to continue improving.
He will be back in action again on Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Returning to a tournament he has won a record 8 times on the heels of a T-2nd finish, Woods will be a popular pick to win this week.
Regardless of how well Woods fares this week at Bay Hill, it is clear that he is in fact back. It is no longer a question of if Tiger Woods will win again, but when. And that appears to be coming sooner than later.
Since returning, he has the 5th best scoring average on tour, is 11th in strokes gained and owns the 2nd best one-putt percentage. Oh, and he has the 2nd highest swing speed on tour to boot. The stats do not lie – this is not the Tiger Woods we have seen the better part of the previous 5 years. And while it may not be the Tiger Woods of the early 2000’s, he’s still playing at a level worthy of praise.
As Jason Sobel (ESPN) wrote this morning about his own doubts towards Tiger’s prospects of winning, “Or maybe we — and yes, by “we” I mean “I” — just didn’t see the whole picture. Maybe we were guilty of living only in the moment, of failing to see the forest through the trees. Maybe we somehow forgot that this is a guy who spent the prime years of his career making the impossible look possible.”
And when Tiger is on the prowl, the proverbial needle is moved like no other competitor on tour can do. Saturday’s coverage was the most-watched Saturday golf event in more than 12 years. That growing excitement towards golf around the globe is something that cannot be replicated by anyone.
While I am not a big Reed fan outside of The Ryder Cup, I do still appreciate his performances and how good he can be. Overall, I don’t know what to make of his career to this point. Is he very good? Absolutely! Is he fun to cheer for and someone I truly feel makes the game of golf better? That’s probably a no.
High scores happen on tour and Conners has nothing to be disappointed about going forward. He led a tournament with a phenomenal field and improved his prospects of staying on tour.
In a week where Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau and a bevy of others failed to make the cut, Conners has a lot to be proud of.
With a lot still to prove, this could be the confidence boost that propels him to success in 2018 and beyond.
Jordan Spieth – It has been an up and down season for Spieth early on, but we all know how well his game sets up for the test ahead. With 3 majors to date, Spieth has the chance to add another at the young age of 24.
Justin Thomas – Justin Thomas is playing spectacular golf, although that’s becoming more of the norm for him. He has 2 wins in his last 8 starts along with 4 top-10 finishes. In fact, he has yet to finish outside of the top-25 in those starts. His win at The Honda Classic was a dominant win and he then followed that up by going head-to-head with Mickelson in a playoff at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Could Thomas win The Masters and make it his second straight major win?
Jason Day – After a year of taking a majority of time away from golf, Jason Day has returned to the tour with good form this season. He most recently won The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and will be a player to watch.
Sergio Garcia – He played well again this week at The Valspar and finished T-4th. As usual, his irons were world-class and he made some putts. If he has his putter going, Sergio could absolutely make a repeat him at Augusta in April.
Justin Rose – He was oh so close to winning in 2017 and has kept his form since. He finished one-shot behind Garcia this week with a score of 7-under par. He has the game and the ability to play under pressure, it is simply a matter of whether or not he is converting his chances and executing on scoring holes.
Anyway you look at it, this beginning of the 2018 PGA Tour season has been one of the best in recent memory. From the storylines to the performances, the tour’s players have provided golf fans with a little bit of everything that makes this game great.
Buckle up… the season’s just getting going and it’s going to be a great one!
Let us know what you thought of The Valspar Championship