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Woods falls just short as Casey triumphs in Florida sunshine


By Phil Casey

Paul Casey won his first PGA Tour event since 2009 in the Valspar Championship as Tiger Woods came up just short in his own remarkable bid for an overdue victory.

Casey carded a final round of 65 on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort to set a clubhouse target of 10 under par, which American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed looked set to match before he bogeyed the final hole.

Woods was two behind with three holes to play - Copperhead's so-called "Snake Pit" - but holed from 40 feet for a birdie on the 17th and had a similar distance on the last to force a play-off. But the 14-time major winner, playing just his fourth PGA Tour event since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, was unable to repeat the feat and had to settle for a share of second place.

"It was a very good week," the 42-year-old told Sky Sports. "I've got a little bit better since the last time I played a couple of weeks ago and it was a very difficult week - tough conditions on a tough course, very demanding and I thought I held up really well."

Asked how he felt being in contention for a first victory since August 2013, Woods added: "It felt very comfortable. I remember it and on top of that my game's sharp and so it was a good day.

"Unfortunately I just didn't hit the ball close enough to make a few putts. I missed a short one [for par] at four and should have birdied 14; those little mistakes over a week will get you and it got me this week."

Casey has won 13 times on the European Tour but his sole previous success on the PGA Tour came in the Houston Open in 2009 and he let slip a two-shot lead after 54 holes in the Tour Championship last September.

This is so much better than probably a lot of them [wins] put together," Casey said "I worked so hard for it - it's tough to put it into words."

Casey has finished in the top six in the Masters in each of the last three years.

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