New Champion Crowned Today, Could Be Same As Old One!

24 Mar

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The Valspar Championship will crown a new champion today – and it could be the same as the old one.

The 2018 winner Paul Casey has launched a spirited defense of his title and enters the final round on Sunday at the top of the leaderboard, one shot ahead at -9. Casey will try to be the first player ever to defend at The Valspar and the third player all-time in this event to own two victories, joining K.J. Choi (2002 and 2006) and Retief Goosen (2003 and 2009).

But his task is formidable as his closest pursuer is World Number 1 Dustin Johnson who sits at -8 and will play with him in today’s final grouping at 2:00. Johnson will be looking for his 21st career PGA TOUR victory in his first appearance on the Copperhead since 2010. “It’s a good golf course,” Johnson said after the round “It’s tough tee to green and you know if you shoot a couple under par each day, come Saturday, Sunday, you’re going to be right in the mix. The golf course plays tough, which I like and it’s going to be a good day tomorrow.”

Johnson will be paired with Casey for the third time this week as they were also in the same group on Thursday and Friday with Gary Woodland.

Casey, trying to make history with back-to-back Valspar titles, feels the pressure is taken off playing with the World Number 1. “He (Johnson) is the best player in the world,” Casey said Saturday. “Who is the favorite tomorrow? Probably Dustin. So I actually feel very little kind of pressure.”

Casey and Johnson are not alone in the quest to hoist the Golden Brush. Nine other golfers are within four shots of the lead, led by Jason Kokrak at -7, two shots back. Kokrak shot a round of 66 that was highlighted by the 11th hole in one in tournament history at the 15th hole on Saturday. It was the first since Jonathan Byrd also had one at the 15th in 2015. For Kokrak, it was his second PGA TOUR ace.

Other top pursuers include including past Valspar champions Luke Donald at -6 and Jim Furyk at -5. Both Donald and Furyk could set a tournament record with a 5th top 10 finish. If Furyk finishes in the top 20, it would be a record 7th time. Furyk, Donald and Casey also could join Retief Goosen and K.J. Choi as the only players in tournament history with more than $2 million in winnings.

Louis Oosthuizen, who won The Open Championship in 2010, is also in the mix at -5 after he joined Jason Kokrak, in third at -7, with the low rounds of the day, 66, on Chick-fil-A Moooving Day.
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A large crowd enjoyed a first-class show from country music star Brad Paisley Saturday night at Valspar LIVE presented by Chick-fil-A.

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