Paul Casey is an equipment free agent and the early buzz this season was that Casey would sign with Honma. That hasn’t happened yet, but if it does the price might have just gone up as Casey won his third PGA Tour event by defending his title at the Valspar Championship.
Accompanied by his caddie who was wearing a bib reading “The Champ,” Casey rode solid ball-striking the first 54 holes to the lead but then relied on his short game to bail him out on a number of holes Sunday. Casey got up and down from 33 yards on No. 2; had another par save on No. 4; put a wedge close from 73 yards for birdie on No. 5 then got up and down from the bunker on No. 8 for par. Another up and down from the bunker on No. 11 led to a birdie on the par 5. Then came one of the key shots of the day, a pitch from 32 yards from a severe sidehill lie on No,. 14 for another birdie to reclaim the outright lead, followed by a nifty par save from a gnarly greenside lie on No. 16 where he laid the face of his Titleist Vokey 60-degree wedge wide open and executed a near-perfect flop.
Casey uses a trio of Titleist’s Vokey wedges, with the SM7 model serving as his 52- and 56-degree and a prototype 60-degree with a T grind. The T-grind is distinctive for its narrow bounce at the front to aid square-face shots that combines with a trailing edge relief to allow the club to glide through the turf as it bottoms out. The two distinctive bounce angles allow the club to sit closer to the ground on tighter lies.
Still, it’s not like Casey’s tee-to-green game didn’t offer an assist. In fact, the 41-year-old led the field in strokes gained/tee to green. Off the tee, Casey used the same driver he had in the bag when he won last year at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead course, a TaylorMade M4 with a Mitsubishi Diamana White LEX D+ 70 shaft. He also uses a split set of Mizuno irons comprised of three different models with Golf Pride’s Z Grip Cord midsize grips.
So armed with familiar clubs, Casey enjoyed a familiar result. And his caddie can keep “The Champ” bib ready for another year. As Casey said afterwards, "I'm getting older but I feel like I'm getting better."
What Paul Casey had in the bag at the Valspar Championship:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (Mitsubishi Diamana White D+ 70), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 2017, 15 degrees
Irons (3): Mizuno JPX 919; (4): Mizuno MP 25; (5-PW): Mizuno MP 5
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52, 56 degrees); Titleist Vokey prototype (60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist 350 SSS