Wearing a lime-green shirt in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Englishman Paul Casey had the luck of the Irish with him as he posted a bogey-free seven-under 64 at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course to take the early two-stroke lead at the Transitions Championship. Heavy fog delayed the start of round one for 70 minutes, but when the haze lifted, it lent perfect scoring conditions for the morning wave.
“Today was lovely,” said Casey, who hit 15 greens in regulation. “It’s nice to be back here at a golf course I really like. A bit of a ballstriker’s golf course, so I thought it would suit my game…but it was very benign out there. It was beautiful golfing conditions, so have to take advantage of it.”
He escaped making a blemish on his scorecard after driving it in the trees on No. 5.
“Luck of the Irish, I got a nice, clean sort of break through the trees,” said Casey. “Not a big gap. Probably a six-to-seven-foot gap about 170 yards out and hit a beautiful five-iron under the trees through the gap up on the green to about five feet and missed the putt. Poor tee shot and then got lucky and played a very good recovery.
“There were moments like that. I would seem to miss it on the right sides with the fairways.”
Making his first start at Innisbrook, world No. 1 Martin Kaymer wasn’t as familiar as Casey with the course and missed a couple shots on the wrong side.
“It’s a fantastic golf course,” said Kaymer, who shot a solid three-under 68. “I think it’s one of the best I’ve played in America, to be honest. It’s very difficult. You have to hit a lot of good tee shots.”
Playing at this event for the sixth time, Ryan Moore, who finished T22 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, kicked off his round with four birdies on the front nine and another on No. 1, his tenth hole, to get to five-under. Then he made a few out-of-character mistakes.
“I don’t remember the last time I saw Ryan three-putt two in a row,” said his brother and caddie, Jason Moore, as he took off his caddie bib.
Ryan can’t even remember the last time he three-putted, let alone twice in a row.
“I don’t think I’ve ever three-putted two greens in a row in my life,” said Ryan, who birdied the par-3 8th and finished with a solid four-under 67.
“This morning was the most scoreable I’ve ever seen this golf course,” he said. “There was no wind, the sun came out and the greens were soft. It was all because of the fog, but it was just perfect. You could shoot a (low) round here — that rarely happens at this course.”
Meanwhile, coming off a big victory last week at Doral, Nick Watney started hot again. Through 12 holes, he rolled in seven birdies before losing a bit of steam with a bogey on the challenging par-3 No. 4 (he teed off No. 10). Still, Watney shot a five-under 66 and currently stands at solo second.
“No complaints,” said Watney, smiling. “But maybe I need to take a nap.”
With the afternoon wave still on the golf course, Casey will likely remain the first-round leader.
“The brighter the green, the more luck you’ve got,” said Casey with a wry smile. Later, he joked, “Maybe I’ll wear (this shirt) again (tomorrow).”
(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)