Tiger Woods didn’t win, but it came down to him at the finish.
Paul Casey of England claimed his second PGA Tour victory, shooting 6-under-par 65 in the final round of the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., but had to wait for more than an hour after he finished to be sure.
That’s when Woods missed a 37-foot birdie putt on the final hole to fall one stroke short and tie for second with Patrick Reed, who was tied for the lead before three-putting for a bogey on the last hole minutes earlier.
“I’ve won a few times in Europe, but to get my second victory on the PGA Tour, I’m emotional about it,” said the 40-year-old Casey, whose only other victory on the circuit came in the 2009 Shell Houston Open. “I can’t explain it, really.
“I had to make a few cleanup putts on 16-17-18, the Snake Pit, I needed to do it. I messed up there yesterday, hit the ball in the water on 16. But this is very satisfying, rewarding.”
Playing well ahead of the circus-like atmosphere that surrounded Woods, Casey birdied four of the first seven holes and added three more birdies in a row through No. 13 on his way to a winning score of 10-under 274.
Woods, in his fourth official tournament since a fourth back procedure, made a birdie on the first hole but didn’t have another until thrilling the crowd with a 44-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, but could not duplicate that on the last and closed with a 70.
“I felt very comfortable out there, but I just wasn’t as sharp with my iron game as I have been,” said Woods, who was seeking his 70th PGA Tour victory and first since he won five times in 2013.
“I’ve gotten better than I was a couple of week ago in the Honda and I had a chance to win the golf tournament. Had only a couple shots turned out differently, it could have been a different story.”
Reed holed out from 58 feet for an eagle on the first hole to kick-start a 68, while Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain collected eight birdies in a 65 to wind up two shots back in solo fourth.
Fifth-ranked Justin Rose of England made a birdie on the first hole but none the rest of the way in a 72 that left him three back in a tie for fifth with Rory Sabbatini of South Africa, who carded a 69.
Jim Furyk posted a 66 and finished one more stroke behind seventh, while Jason Kokrak recorded a 68 to finish five down in a tie for eighth with Webb Simpson (70), Trey Mullinax and Branden Grace of South Africa, who all had 70s.
Defending champion Adam Hadwin of Canada finished in a tie for 12th after a 68, and rookie Corey Conners, also of Canada, struggled to a 77 and tied for 16th after leading after each of the first two rounds.
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