AVONDALE, La. – Paul Casey has fared awfully well this week for a guy who is winging it.
His plan was to begin his Zurich Classic preparation on Monday morning, play a few holes at TPC Louisiana and then walk the rest of the course since he had never seen the place. That changed once his flight out of Savannah, Ga., was delayed, so he scrapped those plans altogether and flew back home to Phoenix.
By Tuesday morning he was in Los Angeles, applying for a green card. He couldn’t fly out until midday Wednesday, though, and he arrived here too late to practice. And besides, he couldn’t do much anyway, with a 7 a.m. tee time Thursday.
“Really just winging it completely blind,” he said Saturday, “but it’s paid off.”
This isn’t Casey’s first time ad-libbing at a tournament. When he won the ANZ Championship in 2003, he said he didn’t hit a single practice ball all week, because the driving range was off-site. When he was in the final group Sunday, “I had a bit of a panic attack, like, should I go warm up? I thought, Nah, and ended up winning.”
Casey has no status on the PGA Tour this season other than the past champions’ category. That doesn’t afford him a full schedule, and he’s making only his seventh start of the season, this one on a sponsor exemption.
After a third-round 64, Casey is now in position not only to finish in the top 10 and earn a spot in next week’s event in Charlotte, but also to win for the second time in his PGA Tour career, and first since 2009.
The former world No. 3 has battled injuries in the past few years, most notably a dislocated shoulder that essentially cost him the entire 2012 season. Last summer, he snapped a two-year winless drought when he captured the EuropeanTour’s Irish Open.
“For me, there’s a nervous excitement going into tomorrow,” he said. “I feel very much over all the injuries and the struggles I’ve had. It’s just a really exciting day for me.”