After nearly missing the cut, England’s Paul Casey played in the opening pairing Saturday morning. By Sunday afternoon, he was in line to make history.
Casey shot a 7-under-par 65 in his final round of the Masters, but through 16 Casey was 9 under for the day. Had the score held, he would have tied the course’s low round of 63, held by Nick Price (third round 1986) and Greg Norman (first round 1996). He was also on pace to set the Masters Tournament’s lowest fourth-round score (64) and was gunning for Branden Grace’s low-round major record (62) set at last year’s British Open.
“I was fully aware of what was going on,” Casey said. “I know that 63 is the course record and 62 is the lowest ever in a major, so I was aware. Not particularly nervous, just kind of having a fun time and obviously didn’t do it. It was fun.”
At 2 over to start the day, Casey climbed the leaderboard. His name eventually went into the top 10 before he slid to a tie for 15th, finishing at 5 under for the tournament.
After a 74-75 start, Casey’s 69-65 rounds on the weekend were a pleasant surprise.
“It hasn’t been very good until that streak today," said Casey. “If somebody would have said that you’d shoot a 65 today, it’d be hard to turn that down.”
Casey, who has five top-10 finishes in 11 Masters appearances, was bogey free until the last two holes.
Birdies at Nos. 2 and 5 got him to even, and a birdie at No. 8 got him into red figures.
After another birdie at 11, Casey put together a streak that hasn’t been done since Costantino Rocca in 1997.
Casey went birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie from 11 to 14, matching Rocca’s feat, to drop to 9 under for his round.
“It was fun, wasn’t it?” Casey said with an ear-to-ear smile. “To get through Amen Corner and make a birdie, birdie, eagle at Amen Corner, I’m going to remember that one for a long time.”
Casey was complimentary of Saturday’s round with marker Jeff Knox, saying he might have learned a couple things from the Augusta National Golf Club member’s knowledge of the course.
“The way he approaches this golf course, he positions the golf ball and the speed of his putts, that’s just very nice to see and wonderful to play with,” Casey said. “There’s multiple ways to play this golf course, but he plays it the way I like to play it.”
Casey’s finish was proof that anyone can hang around if they can just make the cut on Friday.
“You think you just scrape through the cut and then all of a sudden you pop up on the leaderboard," he said. "It’s kind of cool.”