2003: PGA European Tour - Casey states his case at ANZ
Seven Australians and one New Zealander played their way into the top 10, but it was an English visitor with something to prove who walked away with the top prize at the ANZ Championship.
Paul Casey, the former Arizona State standout who won the 2001 Scottish PGA in an exemplary rookie season but was without a PGA European Tour victory in 2002, ended a 17-month drought.
“The first win was tough, and I don’t know if the second is tougher – they’re all tough,” Casey said after his Feb. 9 victory.
The tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Australasian tours, was played under a modified Stableford scoring system. Players received 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or higher.
Casey scored 6 points in the final round for a 4-point victory over Australians Stuart Appleby and Nick O’Hern.
Casey had five birdies and four bogeys Sunday to finish with 45 points on the oceanside New South Wales Golf Club.
Casey took advantage of the scoring system, but even under normal stroke-play rules, Casey’s closing 71 would have left him at 17-under 271 and given him a two-stroke victory over Appleby and O’Hern.
Appleby scored 8 points Sunday and O’Hern had 11. Australia’s Peter Lonard and Jarrod Moseley tied for fourth, 6 points back at 39.
After a stellar amateur career that featured a victorious Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup effort and record-setting performances at Arizona State, Casey didn’t exactly sneak onto the European Tour in 2001. But he justified the hype in his first season, earning a victory, finishing 17th on the Order of Merit and winning Rookie of the Year honors.
But he stumbled to No. 46 on the Order of Merit last year and had only four top 10s in 19 events.
It was not the kind of sophomore season expected from a player who in 1999 became just the third GB&I player in 77 years to go 4-0 in a Walker Cup. He also won the English Amateur Championship in 1999 and 2000.
Toss in a college career in which he won three consecutive Pac-10 championships and broke Phil Mickelson’s school scoring record, and more was expected of Casey than one triumph in two years on the Europen Tour.
Casey showed signs that a victory might be imminent, however, when he led for two rounds of the Heineken Open before finishing tied for second Feb. 2.
“This win shows the first wasn’t a flash in the pan,” Casey said. “And it probably answers a few critics out there.”