PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Paul Casey entertained a packed room of media members and tournament officials just weeks ahead of his attempt to claim a third-straight Valspar Championship title. The PGA Tour star is returning as one of nine past champions in the 2020 Valspar field.
The 2020 Valspar Championship features the last three individuals to win the U.S. Open – Gary Woodland (2019), Brooks Koepka (2017 & 2018), and Dustin Johnson (2016). Multiple Top-50 ranked players in the Official World Golf Rankings will also be in attendance at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor March 16-22.
Casey, who won by a single shot in both his 2018 and 2019 victories, aims to become the first player to win the Valspar Championship three times.
He’s currently tied with K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen for most tournament wins on the Copperhead Course.
10News’ Bobby Lewis and Justin Granit asked Paul Casey about defending his title at Valspar:
BOBBY LEWIS: “I want to ask you specifically a couple of questions about the course because we hear a lot of questions about the guys liking the course because it’s very similar to Augusta (National) and other places that don’t look like Florida. But for you, do you have a favorite hole on the course? One that you really like playing?”
PAUL CASEY: “Good question. I mean, it’s a beautiful golf course. Which is my favorite hole? Probably 13. It’s fun. It’s one of the tougher par-3s out there. The reason being, it’s a challenging hole. You kind of have to step up and hit a really great golf shot. We get big crowds on that hole because there’s a big ol’ tent on 12 where everybody is having way too much fun. So yeah, par-3 13th is a hole to come out and watch if I was a fan.”
BL: “There are a lot of good stretches of golf in Florida. The Snake Pit here really rivals all of the 3-hole stretches in the state of Florida. But for you, what is it about the Snake Pit that is the most difficult for you?”
PC: “It’s probably just getting that tee shot away on 16. You know, 17 is a treacherous par-3 with the bunkering and the length of the green. (It's) probably equally difficult in terms of scoring. Sixteen is just one of those holes, because of the water, it can just be a total disaster if you get it wrong.”
BL: “Have you ever hit it in the water on 16?”
PC: “Yeah. I hit it in the water in 2018 when I still won. I want to say the second round or something. I made double bogey. There are a lot of ways of playing it. If you lay back and be conservative off the tee, it just leaves you such a difficult second shot. It’s just one of those, you have to figure out, well, when do you take a risk? Do you take it on the tee shot or do you take it on the second shot? It’s a great golf hole.”
BL: “I’m sure there are a lot of balls floating around in the bottom of the lake on 16. But do you guys like to challenge of holes like that or would you rather it like most Florida courses where you just hit it as long as you can? It seems like you’d rather have it like this on 16.”
PC: “I like it a lot. The premise of this golf course is it's not all about length. There are a lot of holes, the way they turn, the way the trees kind of frame holes, it’s not just about distance. It’s line and distance, which is a great example on 16. I mean you can hit anything on that tee. Guys hit irons. Guys hit drivers. They just pick which line you’ve got to take. It’s great architecture. We hit it a long way and it’s kind of one of the things we enjoy to do. There are always a lot of debates about the distance of the golf ball but we like to shape it as well and we like the challenge of shorter golf holes.”
BL: “Do you feel like you’re playing well enough right now that you think you could win here again?”
PC: “I could certainly win here again but we’ve got a great field, haven’t we? We’ve got Brooks and Dustin and Gary Woodland and guys like that so, yeah I feel good about my game.”
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