Golf Talk Live - Lanny Wadkins Transcript Segment 1
WHEN LANNY WADKINS WAS A ROOKIE, HE SEEMED A FEISTY COMBINATION OF GUNSLINGER AND COCKY KID. WELL, THE GUNSLINGER IS BACK AND HE'S A ROOKIE AGAIN.
AS HARVEY PENICK SAID, HE'S TAKING DEAD AIM. THIS TIME, AT THE TROPHIES AND GOLD ON THE SENIOR PGA TOUR.
(GTL MUSIC/INTRO BEGINS)
HE'S ALWAYS BEEN A FIERCE AND FEISTY COMPETITOR, HANDLED THE BULLIES ON THE WAY HOME FROM GRADE SCHOOL. AND LATER, HE HANDLED THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD.
AFTER WINNING THE UNITED STATES AMATEUR IN 1970, HE JOINED AS GREAT A COLLECTION OF PLAYERS AS HAS EVER EXISTED ON THE PGA TOUR.
DESPITE ALL THE NOISE THAT TODAY'S FIELDS ARE GREATER AND DEEPER THAN EVER BEFORE, THINK ABOUT THE GREAT PLAYERS WHO WERE AT OR NEAR THEIR PEAK WHEN WADKINS PLAYED IN HIS FIRST PROFESSIONAL TOURNAMENT IN 1971.
ARNIE WAS STILL WINNING ON TOUR. BILLY CASPER HAD JUST WON HIS THIRD MAJOR. TREVINO, 6-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION, WAS AT HIS VERY BEST. JOHNNY MILLER WAS ENTERING HIS FINEST SEASONS.
CRENSHAW AND KITE WERE KIDS ABOUT TO MAKE THEIR MARK ON THE PROFESSIONAL SCENE. TOM WEISKOPF WAS AT THE PEAK OF HIS GAME, AND SO WERE RAY FLOYD AND 9-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION GARY PLAYER.
HALE IRWIN WAS STARTING HIS BRILLIANT CAREER. AND JACK NICKLAUS, WINNER OF 20 MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, WAS BY HIS OWN ADMISSION BEGINNING A 5 YEAR STRETCH OF GOLF THAT HE CHARACTERIZED AS THE BEST OF HIS CAREER. TOM WATSON HADN'T YET WON HIS FIRST OF 39 TOUR EVENTS INCLUDING 8 MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS.
IT WAS INTO THIS SCENE THAT LANNY WADKINS WAS TO SUCCESSFULLY TEST HIS CONSIDERABLE POWERS. AND HE WON 21 TOUR EVENTS OVER THE NEXT 21 YEARS INCLUDING THE 1977 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP.
HE REPRESENTED HIS COUNTRY ON 2 WALKER CUP AND 8 RYDER CUP TEAMS AS A PLAYER, WAS RYDER CUP CAPTAIN IN 1995. HE NEVER BABIES A SHOT. HE NEVER PULLS A PUNCH.
HE HAS AN UNWAVERING BELIEF IN HIS GAME, IN HIS ABILITY TO CLOSE, IN HIS ABILITY TO CHARGE FROM BEHIND. AND NOW, HE GETS TO START AGAIN, AT THE BEGINNING, TO BE THE NEW COCKY KID ON THE BLOCK AGAIN, A ROLE HE WAS BORN TO PLAY, A ROLE HE ACCEPTS AS QUICKLY AND HAPPILY AS THE WINNER'S CHECK, WHICH HE NATURALLY ASSUMES WILL BE MADE PAYABLE TO ONE LANNY WADKINS.
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE, I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE NEW KID IN TOWN, LANNY WADKINS. GREAT TO SEE YOU HERE, BUDDY.
THANK YOU, PETER. IT'S NICE TO BE HERE.
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY AND CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST SENIOR TOUR WIN.
WELL, THANK YOU. YES, IT'S BEEN A VERY EXCITING WEEKEND FOR ME., UM, GETTING STARTED OUT THERE PLAYING WITH UM, A LOT OF GUYS I HAVEN'T SEEN IN A LONG TIME. AND UH, MAKING IT SUCCESSFUL WAS - WAS , YOU KNOW, VERY REWARDING.
NICE BELATED BIRTHDAY PRESENT YOU GAVE YOURSELF.
YEAH, I MEAN, I HAD KIND OF GOTTEN OVER THE BIRTHDAY THING. UH, IT DIDN'T HURT ANYMORE `CAUSE IT WAS, YOU KNOW, BACK TO DECEMBER 5TH, SO I'VE KIND OF STRUGGLED THROUGH THAT.
BUT UH .. UH IT - IT'S NICE. I KIND OF DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. IT'S BEEN A - A VERY HECTIC LAST COUPLE OF DAYS.
IS IT DISORIENTING A LITTLE BIT TO LOOK UP AT A LEADER BOARD AND SEE TOM WATSON'S NAME AND YOU EXPECT TO SEE IT AGAIN AS YOU DID IN THE PAST?
YEAH, I MEAN - AND SEEING THE OTHER NAMES UP THERE, I FEEL LIKE I'D KIND OF GONE INTO A TIME WARP. UH, YOU KNOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE ARE NAMES THAT I PLAYED WITH, YOU KNOW, 20 YEARS AGO.
I MEAN, SEEING GUYS UP THERE AND ON THE PRACTICE TEE AND UH, THEY DON'T HAVE THE SAME BODIES THEY HAD, YOU KNOW, YEARS AGO. BUT THEY . WELL, THE SWINGS WERE VERY FAMILIAR. AND UH,
IT'S - IT'S NEAT TO BE OUT THERE. IT'S JUST A WHOLE NEAT SCENE FOR ME. IT REALLY WAS.
DID YOU GET THE SAME FEELING IN YOUR STOMACH THAT YOU DID WHEN YOU FIRST WENT OUT TO PLAY GOLF PROFESSIONALLY? DID YOU FEEL THAT TINGLE AGAIN?
YEAH, I WAS VERY EXCITED THE FIRST ROUND. UH, THE FIRST ROUND I PROBABLY HAD AS MANY BUTTERFLIES AS I'VE HAD IN A LONG TIME. UH, I'VE ALWAYS TRIED MY BEST TO CONCEAL THAT.
THAT'S JUST, YOU KNOW, PART OF WHAT I LIKE TO DO. UH, BUT I FELT UH . I FELT VERY EXCITED THE FIRST DAY. FIRST TEE WAS UH . UH, NOT ONE OF MY BETTER SWINGS.
UH, BUT I MANAGED TO GET PAR AND GET ROLLING AND GET THE FIRST 2 HOLES UNDER MY BELT. AND I KIND OF FELT OKAY AFTER THAT. BUT UH, IT WAS AN EXCITING TIME. IT REALLY WAS. UM .
AND TO OPEN WITH A ROUND AND - AND KEEP IT GOING UH THE WAY I DID THE FIRST DAY WAS - WAS . IT FELT VERY GOOD.
AND THE SWING THAT THEY SAID 30 YEARS AGO WOULDN'T HOLD UP SEEMS TO BE DOING JUST FINE.
IT'S CREAKING ALONG OKAY, GETTING BETTER - ACTUALLY IT'S GETTING BETTER. I THINK UH - I'VE DONE A LOT OF WORK ON IT IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS. UH,
VERY PLEASED WITH WHAT I'VE DONE. I ACTUALLY GO BACK AND . I CARRY SOME SEQUENCE PHOTOS THAT WERE TAKEN ABOUT '72 OR '73, AND UH WORKING WITH A GUY, CHRIS WALKEY (SPELLING-???), WHO'S REALLY HELPED ME PUT IT BACK THERE.
I'M NOT TRYING TO BUILD A NEW SWING. I JUST WANT MY OLD ONE BACK `CAUSE THE OLD ONE WORKED FINE. SO . UH, AND I'M - AND I'M GETTING THERE.
I DON'T THINK IT'S AS GOOD YET AS IT'S GONNA BE. AND MY WHOLE GOAL, SENIOR TOUR WISE, IS TO GET MY SWING WHERE I WANT IT. AND I THINK WHEN I DO THAT, EVERYTHING ELSE WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF.
YOU HAD TO HAVE BEEN THINKING THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS HOW NEAT IT WOULD BE TO WIN ON THE SENIOR TOUR BECAUSE YOUR BOYS WOULD GET TO SEE YOU WIN FOR THE FIRST TIME.
YEAH, MY BOYS ARE, YOU KNOW, 12 AND 7, UH, TRAVIS AND TUCKER. AND UH, THEY'RE JUST GREAT, GREAT KIDS. AND UH, IT'S TOUGH BEING AWAY FROM THEM PLAYING AS MUCH AS I DO.
BUT I'VE GOT A 26 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, JESSICA. AND JESSICA'S BEEN TO, YOU KNOW, 2 OR 3 TOURNAMENTS WHEN I'VE WON. AND I THINK I ACTUALLY WON DISNEY ON HER 12TH BIRTHDAY AND THEY, YOU KNOW,
HAD THE WHOLE MARCHING BAND PLAYING `HAPPY BIRTHDAY' TO HER ON THE 18TH GREEN AT DISNEY. SO THAT WAS KIND OF COOL. SHE'S BEEN TO RYDER CUPS I'VE PLAYED IN AND - AND BEEN INVOLVED IN A LOT OF WHAT I'VE DONE.
WELL, THE BOYS HAVE NEVER SEEN ME WIN `CAUSE MY LAST WIN WAS IN '92. SO UH, I WOULD HAVE GIVEN ANYTHING TO HAVE BEEN A FLY ON THE WALL WITH THEM WATCHING TV YESTERDAY. SO THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN .
THAT'S PRETTY COOL. AND UH, HOPEFULLY THEY'LL GET A CHANCE TO BE AT ONE THAT I WIN SOMETIME.
HOW DID THEY REACT WHEN YOU SPOKE TO THEM?
THEY WERE EXCITED. THEY WERE VERY EXCITED, ALMOST A LITTLE . LITTLE SHY. I WAS KIND OF SURPRISED `CAUSE THEY - YEAH, THEY WERE EXCITED BUT, YOU KNOW, KIND OF DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY A LITTLE BIT.
SO I THINK IT'S UH . BUT IT'S NEAT FOR THEM. UM . I'M REAL PLEASED. IT'S JUST UH - IT WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF MY MAIN GOALS, GOING ON THE SENIOR TOUR, WAS TO WIN SO THAT THEY COULD SEE ME WIN. AND THAT'S - THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT.
WHEN IT WAS JUST YOU AND JOSE MARIA CANIZARES LEFT IN THE PLAYOFF AFTER WATSON AND HALL DROPPED OUT, DID YOU AT ANY POINT THINK 'MAN, THE BEST SHOT I EVER HIT MAYBE IN MY WHOLE LIFE UNDER PRESSURE
WAS AGAINST THIS GUY IN THE '83 RYDER CUP ON THE LAST HOLE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE U.S. GOT THE CUP' ?
IT WAS PROBABLY AS MUCH PRESSURE AS I'VE EVER FELT HITTING ANY ONE SHOT, NO QUESTION. UM,
AND I'VE OFTEN LOOKED BACK AT THAT SHOT UH, WHEN I'VE . YOU KNOW, AND IN MY MIND AND I - AND I OFTEN FELT THAT IF I COULD HIT THAT GOOD A SHOT WITH THAT MUCH PRESSURE, THEN I CAN HANDLE ANYTHING.
SO THAT'S .AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT I FEEL SOMETIMES. I KIND OF - I'LL - I'VE THOUGHT BACK TO THAT SHOT MANY TIMES AND SAID IF I COULD DO THAT THEN WITH AS MUCH PRESSURE AS I FELT AT THAT POINT IN TIME, THEN I CAN HANDLE WHATEVER I NEED TO.
AND IT'S ALL WORTH IT TO SEE JACK NICKLAUS KISS YOUR DIVOT.
YEAH, IT WAS PRETTY COOL, I MEAN, HAVING JACK OUT THERE, HAVING ALL THOSE GUYS. THE . THE AMAZING THING, YOU SAW TOM KITE SLAP ME ON THE BACK WHEN I WALKED UP ON THE GREEN AND UH,
YOU KNOW, SAID 'WAY TO GO'. AND I TURNED TO HIM TO SAY SOMETHING AND NOTHING CAME OUT. IT WAS - I THINK IT'S THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I'VE EVER BEEN SPEECHLESS.
I'M SURE THAT'S TRUE. JUST DON'T LET IT HAPPEN FOR THE NEXT 55 MINUTES.
UH, OKAY. (CHUCKLE)
LET'S TAKE A LOOK, AND I DON'T KNOW IF YOU'VE SEEN IT YET, LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE THIRD PLAYOFF HOLE, THE FINAL PLAYOFF HOLE, WATSON AND HALL HAD ALREADY DROPPED OUT.
YOU HAD BOTH HALVED THE SECOND PLAYOFF HOLE. AND HERE'S JOSE MARIA CANIZARES .
AND OF COURSE, HE'S GONNA PUT THIS INTO THE FAIRWAY BUNKER ON THE LEFT, ISN'T HE?
YEAH, JOSE - UH, IT WAS INTERESTING. THE FIRST TEE SHOT IN THE FIRST PLAYOFF HOLE, HE REALLY KIND OF MADE A SMOOTH SWING TO GET IT IN PLAY. THE SECOND PLAYOFF HOLE, HE REALLY WENT AFTER IT AND HAMMERED IT.
AND IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS TRYING TO HERE. AND HE JUST GOT A LITTLE QUICK AND PUT IT IN THE BUNKER. UH, I HIT 3 DRIVES IN THE PLAYOFF ON THE SAME HOLE THAT WERE WITHIN 6 YARDS OF EACH OTHER, UH,
JUST COULD HAVE PUT A BLANKET OVER ALL 3 OF THEM. AND UH . UH, THIS DIDN'T FEEL LIKE .
I'M SURE YOU GAVE A LOT OF THOUGHT TO YOUR 3-WOOD AT THIS POINT, RIGHT?
NO, NOT AT ALL. UH, THE HOLE WAS TOO LONG FOR THAT. I MEAN, I HIT - I HIT A GOOD DRIVE HERE AND STILL HAD TO HIT 5-IRON IN THERE. SO I MEAN, THE HOLE WAS PLAYING UH, WITH A LOT OF LENGTH.
THIS WAS A TOUCH LEFT OF UH THE OTHER 2. BUT I GOT IT OUT THERE PRETTY GOOD WHERE I HAD A GREAT ANGLE. AND UH . THEN ONE THING I DID, I GOT READY TO HIT MY SECOND SHOT.
UH, JOSE HAS HIT THIS ONE UH, LOOKED LIKE A PRETTY GOOD SHOT, BUT IT WAS SKIDDING RIGHT THE WHOLE TIME AND UH, FOUND THE WATER.
AND WHEN I GOT READY TO HIT MY SECOND SHOT, I'D . I HAD JUST HIT 4-IRON ON THE PREVIOUS PLAYOFF HOLE THAT FLEW A FOOT FROM THE HOLE AND WENT TO THE BACK FRINGE.
WELL, THE LAST THING I WANTED WAS TO PUT IT OVER THE GREEN IN PLAY. SO I HAD . I HAD LIKE 183 (YARDS) TO THE HOLE, INTO THE WIND. AND I ASKED MY CADDIE, 'IS THERE ANY WAY I CAN HIT 5-IRON OVER THIS GREEN?'
AND HE SAID, 'NOPE.' I SAID, 'WELL, I'M RIPPING IT THEN.' SO I JUST TOOK - AND I'M GONNA - AND I - AND I WAS DETERMINED TO AIM AT THE PIN `CAUSE THE LAST THING I WANTED TO DO WAS PLAY AWAY FROM WATER,
AWAY - THE LEFT SIDE OF THE GREEN, MAKE BOGEY AND PUT HIM BACK IN IT. SO . I KNEW THE BEST WAY TO END THIS THING AT THIS POINT IN TIME WAS JUST - AND YOU CAN SEE,
I'M WOUND UP RIGHT AT THE PIN. I MEAN, THAT'S WHERE THIS . THAT'S WHERE THIS SUCKER WAS GOING.
HAVE YOU EVER HIT TO A FAT SIDE OF A GREEN? AND HAVE YOU EVER TRADED IN THE 3-WOOD FOR A DRIVER ON THE TEE? I DON'T SO.
OH, I HAVE. YEAH, I'M - I'M SURE I HAVE AT CERTAIN TIMES. BUT UH .
UH, I WAS VERY PROUD OF THAT SHOT RIGHT THERE. THAT FELT GOOD. I EVEN JUST PUT A NICE LITTLE SLIDE TO IT AND GOT IT RIGHT IN THERE. BUT UH, I PLAY SMART SOMETIMES, PETER, NOT THAT OFTEN, BUT . BUT SOMETIMES.
NOW I REMEMBER BACK IN THE `60'S, AND ARNIE AND JACK WOULD GET TO PLAY IN THOSE TEAM EVENTS TOGETHER. EVERYBODY'D SAY, 'THAT'S NOT FAIR.'
I UNDERSTAND YOU AND WATSON, AS WE GET READY TO WATCH YOU 2-PUTT FOR YOUR WIN HERE, ARE GONNA PLAY IN THE LEGENDS TOGETHER. SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY, 'THAT'S NOT FAIR.'
I THINK IT'S VERY FAIR. I LIKE - I LIKE HAVING TOM AS A PARTNER. HE'S UH ... WE'VE BEEN GOOD FRIENDS FOR A LONG TIME. WE WERE ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO PLAY AS PARTNERS.
UH, BILLY CASPER HAD COME TO US IN '79 AND UH, SAID WE WERE SUPPOSED TO PLAY AS PARTNERS IN THE '79 RYDER CUP, ALL 4 DAYS AND UH . I MEAN, ALL 4 ROUNDS THE FIRST 2 DAYS.
AND UH, WATSON HAD TO LEAVE, GO HOME FOR THE BIRTH OF HIS DAUGHTER, MEG. SO I GOT PAIRED WITH LARRY NELSON. AND LARRY AND I WON ALL 4 MATCHES THE FIRST 2 DAYS. UH,
SO TOM AND I HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED FOR SOMETHING TO PLAY IN SINCE THEN. WE'VE BEEN PARTNERS IN A LOT OF MONEY GAMES AND DONE OKAY. AND UM, WE'RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS, BOTH OF US ARE.
SO UH - IT WAS ACTUALLY TOM'S IDEA FOR US TO PLAY. SO UM . UM, THAT - THAT PLEASED ME THAT HE WANTED TO PLAY WITH ME. AND UH, I DON'T MIND PLAYING WITH HIM AT ALL.
WHEN WE COME BACK, MAYBE WE'LL TALK ABOUT A COUPLE OF THE MONEY GAMES THAT YOU AND ARNIE PLAYED AGAINST EACH OTHER IN PRACTICE ROUNDS ON TUESDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS .
20 SOME ODD YEARS AGO. WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.
Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey
CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.
This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.
Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.
Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.
“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”
Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.
“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”
Day (66) only star to shine Saturday at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – With an early rain softening an already vulnerable course, there were plenty of birdies to be had during the third round of the Travelers Championship. They were few and far between, however, for some of the biggest names in the field.
On the same TPC River Highlands layout where Paul Casey took control of the tournament with an 8-under 62, the decorated quartet of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka combined to shoot 1 under with no single score better than a 1-under 69.
Spieth’s dim hopes of back-to-back titles were effectively ended with a 1-over 71, while McIlroy’s second straight 69 dropped him from three shots off the lead to outside the top 10.
Thomas (70) and Koepka (69) are now 11 and 12 shots back, respectively.
Among the top-ranked contenders, the only player to make a modicum of a move was Jason Day, who shot a 4-under 66 and heads into the final round in a tie for sixth, six shots behind Casey. The Aussie made four birdies over his first nine holes, but he stalled out on the more gettable inward half.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing right now. I played well today from tee to green,” Day said. “Tomorrow it all depends on how Paul plays.”
Day has won twice already this season, but facing a significant deficit against a seasoned veteran he realizes that a quick start will be necessary to retain any hopes for a third title.
“This course can yield some birdies, which is quite nice,” Day said. “Get through tomorrow in a couple under on the front side, and then try to let things go a little bit on the back side if you can.”
Monkey off his back, Casey freed up to win again
CROMWELL, Conn. – Paul Casey is flushing his irons, rolling in putts and no longer fielding questions about a lengthy victory drought. For the remaining players looking to chase him down at the Travelers Championship, it adds up to a terrifying combination.
The Englishman felt right at home on a gray and dreary afternoon at TPC River Highlands, vaulting to the top of the leaderboard with an 8-under 62. It was the lowest round of the week, two shots better than the next best effort Saturday, and it turned a two-shot deficit into a four-shot lead heading into the final round.
After enduring an afternoon logjam, with as many as five players sharing the lead at one point, the tournament is now Casey’s to lose – and he’s not shying away from the burden.
“You’d always rather have a lead,” Casey said. “When you’re behind, there is no room for error. No, I’m excited. I’ve got confidence in my game. I’ve got confidence with the man standing next to me (caddie John McLaren), confidence in the gameplan of how to get around this golf course.”
That approach is undoubtedly aided by the magic act Casey pulled off in March at the Valspar Championship. Teeing off well before the tournament leaders, he shot a final-round 65 and watched as the likes of Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed were unable to match his number.
Without having to field a single question about the weight of the burden he shouldered, about ending a PGA Tour victory drought that extended back to the 2009 Houston Open, Casey launched the monkey off his back and into the trees lining the 18th fairway at Innisbrook.
While Casey has won 13 times on the European Tour, including five times from 2009-14, his dry spell on this side of the Atlantic had become a point of discussion and one that wore on the affable veteran. But one sublime round in Tampa rendered it moot, and it will also grant him an extra sense of calm heading into the final round outside Hartford where only Russell Henley will start the day within five shots of his total.
“If I hadn’t won in a while, then yeah, there would be more pressure. I sit here right now with no nerves,” Casey said. “I’m sure there will be tomorrow, but no nerves now. I’m very happy with what I’ve done. In years past maybe that wouldn’t have been the case because there hadn’t been enough wins.”
Granted, this is an event that often doesn’t follow the script. Birdies will be there for the taking on a course softened by light rains, and low scores shouldn’t be hard to find. This is, after all, where Jim Furyk shot a 58 two years ago and where Kevin Streelman ended his comeback victory in 2014 with a run of seven straight birdies.
Trailing by six, Bubba Watson floated the notion of needing a 60 to catch Casey without any hint that the score is out of reach. Jason Day, who like Watson trails by six at 10 under, quickly sniffed out Casey’s long-term track record like a shark seizing on a droplet of blood.
“Tomorrow it all depends on how Paul plays,” Day said. “I know that he in the past hasn’t quite got over the line with some of the wins that he possibly could have won, and that’s kind of a positive in my mind knowing that.”
But the look of calm confidence that emanates from Casey is that of a man who no longer has to answer questions about when The Win will come. His next victory will be just that, the next one. Another trophy to add to the decorated credentials of a player who has re-established himself in the game’s upper echelon over the past three years.
He’s back on a course he has thrived on from the very first time he set foot on the property, losing in a playoff to Watson in 2015 in his tournament debut. He has returned each year since, finishing T-17 and T-5.
His final-round 71 in 2016, carded the same day Furyk shot his 58, is proving more and more to be an aberration since each of his other 14 competitive rounds in Cromwell have ended up in the 60s. That includes three straight this week, capped by Saturday’s effort where he hit every green in regulation and tied his career low score on Tour.
Yes, the tournament is Casey’s to lose. But liberated by a recent win and playing some of his best golf at one of his favorite venues, there’s little reason to expect him to do anything but lift the trophy he barely missed out on three years ago.
“If I go out there tomorrow and I hit it the way I normally hit it, and I putt it well,” Casey said, “then I’m fairly confident.”
Couples one behind Toledo; Sticker struggles in Wisc.
MADISON, Wis. – Esteban Toledo birdied four of the last six holes for a 6-under 66 and the second-round lead Saturday in the American Family Insurance Championship.
Five strokes behind tournament host Steve Stricker after an opening 69 in rain Friday at University Ridge, Toledo had six birdies in a bogey-free round to reach 9-under 135. The 55-year-old Mexican player won the last of his four PGA Tour Champions titles in 2016.
Defending champion Fred Couples (67), David Toms (66), Kent Jones (67) and Billy Mayfair (68) were a stroke back.
''I'm surprised that someone isn't 11 or 12 under, but the greens picked up a lot of pace today,'' Couples said. ''I think maybe the scoring was a little easier yesterday because we got to clean the ball in the fairways, but it's not easy out there.''
Bernhard Langer (69) was 8 under with Madison player Jerry Kelly (69), Scott McCarron (67), Mark Calcavecchia (68), Paul Goydos (68), Joey Sindelar (68), Glen Day (69) and Brad Bryant (72).
''The conditions haven't been that easy,'' Kelly said. ''The pins are in some spots where you can't spin it and you have to hit them firm out of these kind of soft fairways, otherwise you could chunk it. It's not that easy even though the course is gettable. There's just a few things going on out there to keep the scoring from going too low like it normally does.''
Stricker followed his opening 64 with a 74, ending his Champions under-par streak at 30 rounds - the fourth-longest streak in tour history.
''It just was one of those days where I didn't have a lot of energy,'' Stricker said. ''Nothing - hit very few good shots, really. The couple that I did hit well, I was in bad spots, and a couple bad shots even got worse.''
He had three bogeys and a birdie - on the final hole.
''That was a big birdie in my mind,'' Stricker said. ''It kept me a little bit closer. No one ran away with this thing today and three shots back, a lot of guys in between me and the lead. It was a good putt to make and finally get a birdie. That was my only one today.''
Stricker won in Arizona and Mississippi in consecutive starts in May for his first senior victories. The 12-time PGA Tour winner played the big tour the last two weeks, tying for 18th in Memphis and tying for 20th in the U.S. Open.
John Daly matched Stricker at 6 under with a 70.