SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Tiger Woods said he was aiming to shoot 7-under 64 to get back into the Frys.com Open on Friday. Instead, it was another Nike man who shot that number and took the lead at CordeValle.
Paul Casey, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 20, shot 64 to surge to the top of the leaderboard.
The Englishman is looking to make it two consecutive wins on two different continents. A week ago in Korea, Casey won the Shinhan Donghae Open. Given the jet lag Casey is still experiencing, it would make a trans-Pacific win more impressive.
'The 16-hour time change – it's been kicking my (rear) this week,' Casey said. 'Yeah, waking up in the middle of the night, which is probably the middle of the day.'
Despite winning last week in Asia, Casey is fighting this week for his PGA Tour status. With no wins since the '09 Shell Houston Open and not even a top 10 this season, the Englishman needs to rack up money to keep his Tour card.
Not only does Casey have to make money to secure his status, but he needs to continue teeing it up simply to meet the minimum obligations of the PGA Tour. Missing the FedEx Cup entirely left him with a deficit in starts he will remedy next week.
Casey has been fighting the equivalent of turf toe for much of the season, which has kept him out of good form. Even winning last week, Casey says the toe is not fully healed.
'I'm probably about 70 percent, but I had a big breakthrough after I missed out on the FedExCup, went out to see some guys - Gary Gray and Dave Tiberio [at the Gray Institute]. I've actually done a lot of work with Nike on some golf fitness stuff, but these guys are legends in the fitness and physio world, and helped my trainer sort of get the toe going in the right direction. It's not perfect, but now I can walk without limping and I feel like it's probably the best I've hit the golf ball all year.'
Specifically, the subtalar joint had been the problem for Casey, which dictates comfort in walking on the inside and outside of the foot. Rest would heal the problem, but Casey must keep playing.
'If I could rest it, I think I'd be 100 percent in three, four weeks. I mean, that's still not an option right now.'