Paul Casey didn't ingratiate himself to American audiences when he spoke disparagingly of Americans prior to the 2005 World Cup. Perhaps he can build a relationship by winning the Masters. ( dpa )
The 30-year old Englishman was making a more enchanting statement on a soggy afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club on Saturday. Casey fired an opening-round 32 to jump into a momentary tie for the lead of the season's first major championship.
Arriving at 8-under for the tournament, Casey shared the pace car with American Brandt Snedeker, who was 8-under at the time, as well. Casey acknowledged before the round that he had a good feeling coming into "moving day."
"In the past, I've always put myself behind the 8-ball," said Casey, who fired a 69 on Friday. "I've always had to battle and pull a number out of the bag to make the cut. This year is slightly different."
Casey has come relatively close at Augusta, finishing in a tie for sixth in 2004 and tying for 10th last year.
"I haven't played very good golf this year, haven't stroked the ball well," Casey said. "I was so looking forward to this week. There's just something very special about this one."
A downpour brought the tournament to a stop at 1 pm. After a 40-minute delay, the players were back on the course.
"I think the only difference right now is the greens might be a touch slower than what they would have been," said reigning champion Zach Johnson, who shot a third-round 68 and is 2-under for the tournament.
Snedeker recaptured a solo lead with a birdie at No 8, a par-5. Through eight holes, Snedeker was 2-under on the round. South African Trevor Immelman, who had the lead after 36 holes and played alongside Snedeker, gave up his seat with a bogey at No 4.
But Immelman bounced back with a birdie at No 8 to get back to within a stroke of the lead. A bogey at No 11 dropped Casey to 7-under and two strokes back. Lefthander Steve Flesch also was at 7-under, but many eyes were on the next name on the board - Tiger Woods.
The game's No 1 ranked player and four-time Masters winner has never won a major in which he did not have at least a share of the lead after 54 holes. Through 17 holes, Woods was 4-under on his round and 5-under for the event. He was four stokes off the lead.
Also on the move was Retief Goosen, who made a spectacular eagle on No 13 and climbed to 4-under.