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Casey clinches maiden PGA victory

FINAL LEADERBOARD:
-11 P Casey * (Eng), JB Holmes (US) -9 F Couples (US), H Stenson (Swe), N O'Hern (Aus) Selected others:-7 L Westwood (Eng) -6 E Els (RSA), B Davis (Eng) -5 R McIlroy (NI) -4 P Harrington (RoI)
* Casey wins on first play-off hole


Paul Casey
Casey became the first European to claim the title in its 87-year history

England's Paul Casey claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory as he won a play-off to secure the Houston Open on Sunday.

Casey started the final round as one of six joint leaders, but his rivals fell away in the tricky, windy conditions.

He only needed to par the 18th to win but made a bogey for a 72, which meant a play-off with JB Holmes, who had come from three off the pace.

However, Holmes dumped his drive into the water on the first play-off hole and Casey holed out to take the title.

"It's a little bit like my first win felt in Europe which I can remember very vividly," said Casey. "First win in Europe, first Ryder Cup experience, and now first PGA Tour win.

"Three fairly major events in my life, in my golfing life. So I think I need to give it a couple days to let this one sink in."

Casey becomes just the sixth Englishman to win on the PGA Tour - Nick Faldo leads the way with nine titles - and the first European to claim the tournament in its 87-year history.

He may have only needed a par on the 18th to claim his maiden professional title in the US but the hole had seen more double bogeys than pars during the final round.

It wasn't on my schedule to be playing here this week until I talked to guys like (Geoff) Ogilvy who said it was pretty good preparation for The Masters, and those guys were right

Paul Casey

Casey produced a superb drive over the water but put his second shot into a bunker and duffed his chip, leaving the ball on the lower tier of the green with the pin on the upper.

He missed the 20-foot putt but rolled in a two-footer to go into the play-off with Holmes, who had been warming up on the practice ground after finishing his round two hours before Casey.

They went back down the 18th and Holmes promptly dumped his drive straight into the water on the left of the fairway, with Casey finding the sand down the right with his drive.

Holmes finally made the lower tier with his fourth shot, with Casey on the ridge and 20 feet from the hole in three.

Holmes was short with a 50-foot putt, leaving Casey with two shots for the title. His first putt finished two feet short and he duly rolled the ball in for a bogey to claim victory.

Casey said he had only decided to play in Houston five weeks ago having spoken to fellow pros and friends such as Australia's Geoff Ogilvy, whom he had been defeated by in the WGC-Accenture Match Play final in Arizona on March 1.

"It feels great. It wasn't on my schedule to be playing here this week until I talked to guys like Ogilvy, and a few others, who said it was pretty good preparation for next week, for The Masters, and those guys were right," he said.

606: DEBATE
David O, BBC Sport

"Great greens the way they shave down a lot of the areas, the swirling winds. Very good preparation. As a golf course, it's something I liked. It suited my eye. I didn't know that until I came here.

"I can't tell you how happy I am to include it in my schedule, and I'm not sure how I can explain how it feels yet."

The six-way tie for the lead after 54 holes was the first since at least 1970, when the statistic started to be recorded.

Of the six, veteran American Fred Couples fared best, but he struggled over the closing holes on his way to a 74 and a share of third with Henrik Stenson and Nick O'Hern on nine under.

"I kept my head down, to be honest, and didn't pay too much attention to what was going on," Casey added. "I just thought it was incredibly difficult out there, so why burden myself with knowing too much. Just get on with it.

"It wasn't until the last green I looked up when I was in the bunker and knew I had to get up and down to beat JB, otherwise a play-off."



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see also
Deutsche Bank leaderboard
07 Sep 09 |  Live scores
Van Pelt edges ahead in Houston
05 Apr 09 |  Golf
Casey seizes lead at Houston Open
04 Apr 09 |  Golf
Casey one shot off Houston lead
03 Apr 09 |  Golf
Mickelson set for Augusta warm-up
01 Apr 09 |  Golf
Woods fightback seals superb win
30 Mar 09 |  Golf


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