That’s because the Englishman has won all three of his matches 5 and 4, the latest over Brian Gay in the third round Friday. Casey lost to Geoff Ogilvy in the final last year and won the European World Match Play Championship in 2006.
“I don’t think there’s any one particular part of my game that’s jumping out that is fantastic right now,” he said. “It’s just all very, very solid.”
Casey, one of three English players still in it, advanced to a Saturday morning quarterfinal against Stewart Cink, the lone surviving American and a semifinalist for the third year in a row.
Cink beat South African Charl Schwartzel in 19 holes, rolling in a 29-foot putt on the 16th and an 18-footer on the 18th to avoid elimination.
“To be able to win against a guy like that today was really special,” Cink said, “and especially the way I did it.”
Spain’s Sergio Garcia advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in nine appearances in the tournament, beating Tim Clark of South Africa 2 and 1. Garcia will play Oliver Wilson, who beat fellow Englishman Luke Donald in 20 holes in a match that exceeded even Cink’s in drama.
Donald rolled in a 50-foot putt over several slopes on No. 18 to stay alive.
“A bit harsh, I thought,” Wilson said.
Wilson made a nearly-as-difficult putt from 38 feet two holes later, then won the match when Donald missed a 12-footer.
“If I’d have missed (the 38-footer) I think he would have holed that,” Wilson said, “so it needed to get done, and it was nice to get it over with.”
The other two quarterfinal matches have South African Retief Goosen against Colombian Camilo Villegas, and Ian Poulter of England against Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. Goosen beat Nick Watney 1-up, Villegas defeated Ben Crane 3 and 2, Poulter beat Jeev Milkha Singh 5 and 4, and Jaidee defeated Ryo Ishikawa 5 and 4.
Morning winners go on to play the semifinals Saturday afternoon on the course carved out of a desert hillside near Tucson.
The tournament seemed to become an afterthought to the golf world in the glare of Tiger Woods’ public apology Friday, except for the competitors.
“I’m glad he came out and said something but, you know, I just think everyone should go on with their own lives now and let him get on with his,” Wilson said. “I just want him back on the course.”