Golf: Defending champ Casey grabs share of PGA lead as Donald lurks

Paul Casey of England watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Golf Resort on March 22, 2019 in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Paul Casey of England watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Golf Resort on March 22, 2019 in Palm Harbor, Florida.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Defending champion Paul Casey fired a five-under par 66 to grab a share of the early clubhouse lead in Friday's (March 22) second round of the PGA Valspar Championship alongside American Austin Cook.

Britain's Casey and Cook each stood on six-under 136 after 36 holes at the Innisbrook Resort Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Luke Donald, Casey's English compatriot, was on the course at six-under overall with eight holes remaining.

Casey, who edged Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed by a stroke last year for the crown, began Friday on the back nine and promptly birdied three of his first four holes, sinking a 10-foot putt at 10 and landing his third shot inches from the cup before a tap-in at the par-5 11th.

Casey scored on the other par-5 holes as well, sinking a three-foot birdie putt at 14, a six-footer at the first before holing a 27-footer for eagle at the fifth.

But Casey's lone bogey came on his closing ninth hole, finding bunkers with his first two shots and missing a six-footer for par.

Cook opened with a birdie from seven feet, added a tap-in birdie at the par-4 third and then ran off three birdies in a row with 12-foot putts at the ninth and par-5 11th around one half as long to begin the back nine.

 

His only bogey came at 12 after finding a greenside bunker.

South Korean Im Sung-jae and American Scott Stallings were in the clubhouse on 137 with world number one Dustin Johnson another stroke adrift.