Austria's Straka shares lead at Valspar Championship

Ross Houston
March 24, 2019

The PGA Tour event that doesn't have Tiger Woods this year instead has the Leaping Cougar.

Defending champion Paul Casey fired a five-under par 66 to grab a share of the 36-hole lead alongside American Austin Cook at the US PGA Tour Valspar Championship on Friday.

The tournament, trying to have a little fun during Spring Break in Florida, allowed players to put whatever name they wanted on the back of their caddie's bib. "One needs to keep the momentum going".

His father brought some childhood memorabilia to the Phoenix Open. Ranked 365th in the world, he shared top spot with American Joel Dahmen, whose best finish in three seasons on the tour is joint second at the 2018 John Deere Classic. "Quieted the transition at the top of the swing", Casey said. Luck had never seen Innisbrook until his opening tee shot. But he has been playing well of late and considers himself a streaky player. He is coming off a tie for 12th at The Players. Of the 28 rounds in the 60s, only eight were in the afternoon.

After a drive to the right side of the fairway on the 475-yard par-4 16th hole, Dahmen chipped in his third, carding a birdie for the hole. "I felt the conditions were tricky".

He rolled in six birdies and just one bogey. He was one shot behind at 67.

"It's a good way to go from plus two to minus one very quickly", Knox said.

Casey was joined in the clubhouse lead by Cook, who handed in a five-birdie 67, while Donald got to three under for the day with his fifth birdie at the fifth - his 14th - before he missed a short putt for par at six and then three-putted the eighth green from over 50 feet to drop back to five under for the tournament.

And for the second straight week, Peter Uihlein saw the rarest shot in golf. Last week at The Players, Uihlein was in the same group when Harris English made an albatross.

Johnson was a staple in the day's highlight reel. I don't like making a million birdies, I would prefer that pars are good. "It's good for the soul".

"I hit a lovely drive and I knew if I hit a nice three-wood down there I'd be somewhere near the green and that's really all I was really looking for". I felt very relaxed out there, which is somewhat unusual.

'It's the one I believe I can win, I've got a great opportunity to.

Paul Casey admits the Masters is already "in the crosshairs" even as he tries to make the first successful title defence of his professional career in the Valspar Championship.

Early tee times didn't help Reed, who had a 77, or Day at 74. He had just finished the front nine with a double bogey, but that didn't seem to affect him after the turn.

Knox said he would have been delighted with a birdie. "I've been building a bit of momentum".

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