Monday, 25 February 2019
Paul Casey  (Getty Images)
Paul Casey (Getty Images)

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A top-three finish probably seemed like a pipe dream for Paul Casey when he was one over par after two rounds of the WGC - Mexico Championship.

But back-to-back 65s over the weekend catapulted him to 11 under, which was good enough for a share of third place alongside fellow Englishman Ian Poulter and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

A comical mistake from caddie John McLaren saw him give Casey the pin positions for a different tournament in the early stages of Saturday's round - but that did not affect his progress in the slightest as he kicked off a memorable weekend in style, going par-eagle-birdie before realising McLaren's error.

Here, we take a look back at an interesting couple of days for the 2018 Ryder Cup star.

Remarkable recovery

Casey looked unlikely to feature prominently on Sunday's leaderboard after two bogeys and a double bogey in the space of three holes on his back nine on Friday saw him slip to two over par.

A bounce-back birdie at his penultimate hole meant he followed up Thursday's 71 with a second-round 72 to head into the weekend 12 strokes behind halfway leader Dustin Johnson.

And he did not look back, carding an eagle and six birdies on day three - with a double bogey at the fourth his only blemish - before surging into contention with another six-under-par 65 on Sunday.

Caddie's secret safe with Lee?

A cheeky tweet from playing partner Lee Westwood told the world that Casey's caddie McLaren - known affectionately as 'Johnny Long Socks' - had inadvertently given the 41-year-old the pin positions for the Puerto Rico Open before quickly realising that something wasn't right.

Here is how it all unfolded...

"At the tenth, we played to a position on the green," said Casey. "We knew where the flag was because we could see it. On the 11th, I played to a position on the green, ten on. He actually had the pin right on 11, because he had the pin sheets out.

"We get to 12 and he said, 'Do you need a number?' No, because you hit driver down there. It wasn't until the 13th where he said, 'You need to land it on about 17'. And I said, 'Well, the pin's only 13 on the green'. He suddenly looked in his book and he realised he had written down in his book every single pin that was wrong, and he couldn't figure out why.

"He eventually figured out it was the Puerto Rico pins that he pulled off the internet the night before. And for the only time in his life, he didn't double check them in the morning sitting in the breakfast room.

"We actually did not make a mistake because we played to a position on the green rather than the pin position. And we caught ourselves when we played to a pin. 

"But he's got all sorts of abuse. I mean, Westwood threw him fully under the bus on Twitter yesterday and everybody weighed in on it. Johnny's amazing."

Eyes on the Race to Dubai prize

Despite the WGC - Mexico Championship being Casey's first European Tour event of the 2019 season, his strong finish has lifted him to joint 15th on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.

And he has set his sights on challenging for the Harry Vardon Trophy this campaign.

He said: "It's important I capitalise at events like this. I want to be in the thick of things and maybe with a chance to win a Race to Dubai title as well. 

"That would be really fun. The game is good - I'm looking forward to it."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JOHNSON, DustinUSA18-21
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-16
T3CASEY, PaulENG18-11
T6GARCIA, SergioESP18-10

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