Casey Leads DJ by 1 Shot in Valspar

Paul Casey is in a familiar place in the Valspar Championship, atop the leaderboard, but he has the No. 1 player in the world right on his heels.

The 41-year-old Englishman, the defending champion, shot 3-under-par 68 in the third round and will take a one-stroke lead over Dustin Johnson to the final day on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

“Of the guys on the leaderboard, he’s the one I would want to be paired with (in the final twosome), so it doesn’t bother me,” said Casey, whose Valspar victory last year was his second on the PGA Tour and the first since the 2009 Shell Houston Open. “Obviously, two shots would have been nicer than one, but one is better than level, or one behind.

“He’s the best player in the world. That’s why I work and I do what I do, because I want to play against the best in the world. I actually feel very little pressure. You look at my results versus Dustin’s. He’s the better player, so it’s pretty simple. If I go out tomorrow and beat him, I actually might win, plain and simple. Great scenario.”

Casey held a three-stroke lead at one time but made a bogey on the last hole to finish 54 holes at 9-under 204.

“I like being No. 1 because it means I’m playing good golf,” said Johnson, who recently won the Saudi Arabia International and the WGC-Mexico Championship. “Winning takes care of that.

“I just try to win, or at least put myself in position to win every week.”

Jason Kokrak made a hole in one with an 8-iron on the 218-yard 15th hole to highlight a 66 and is two shots back in solo third, while Luke Donald of England, who won this tournament in 2012, totaled 70 and is another stroke back in a tie for fourth with Scott Stallings, who also had a 70.

Jim Furyk, 48, who won this event in 2010, carded a 68 and is four shots down in a tie for sixth with Louis Oosthuizen (65) of South Africa, Nick Taylor (67) of Canada, Curtis Luck (70) of Australia, Sungjae Im (71) of South Korea and Austin Cook (72), who shared the 36-hole lead with Casey.

Tenth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain posted a 72 and is tied for 21st.

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