Defending champion Casey leads after Saturday play at Valspar Championship

Paul Casey now has three PGA Tour victories to his name

Paul Casey famously denied Tiger Woods an emotional comeback win in Tampa previous year and on Sunday in the same Florida city he will attempt to fight off world No 1 Dustin Johnson.

These are very, very hard greens but that's the way I like them and it's why I play well at places like Augusta as well'.

At stake for Casey is a chance to become the first back-to-back victor of the Valspar Championship since this PGA Tour event began in 2000.

"I've never defended a professional event".

"My mindset now is I've won it, I have nothing to lose", Casey said. "This year, knowing that I have won around here, I have just a slightly different approach to it".

Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, shot 67 and is tied for sixth with Brian Stuard, Kevin McCarthy, Roberto Castro and Shawn Stefani, who holed out from 157 yards for an eagle on the 16th hole.

Donald, playing in only his second tournament of the season after back trouble in 2018, overtook Casey and Cook with a clutch 33-foot birdie from a greenside bunker at the fifth, his 14th hole.

American Jason Kokrak's hole in one on the 15th helped him sit third on seven under, a shot ahead of Luke Donald.

Dustin Johnson overcame a rough patch early in his round with five birdies on the front nine to salvage a 69.

Casey mixed four birdies with five bogeys in his final round
Casey mixed four birdies with five bogeys in his final round

Casey then bogeyed the closing hole to end the day at 9 under, allowing Johnson to pick up two valuable shots on the demanding track's daunting, three-hole "Snake Pit" finishing stretch.

"I'm in a good position. because this golf course, it's tough", Johnson said.

Day's Australian compatriot Curtis Luck shot a one-under par 70, while Matt Jones and Rod Rampling earned two-over par 73. Garcia, however, fell down the leaderboard after shooting even par.

Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., Adam Hadwin from Abbotsford, Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Canadian-American dual citizen Austin Connelly all missed the cut. "I'm going to go out there and attack the golf course the way I attacked it today".

Among those very much in the mix is Jon Rahm, three shots behind, who is making his Innisbrook debut.

A year ago, he rallied from five shots behind with a 65 and wound up winning by one shot over Woods and Patrick Reed. But Casey, 41, is relishing the challenge.

He opened in the morning calm with a 10-foot birdie putt and did the rest of his damage on the par 5s.

"Everybody is going to make bogeys".

"Obviously he's the prominent one in the group of guys near the lead", Casey said.

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