Horschel's run ends with Tour Champ. win, FedEx Cup

By Doug FergusonSeptember 14, 2014, 10:09 pm

ATLANTA – Billy Horschel capped off the best three weeks of his career with the biggest payoff in golf.

Horschel pulled away from a self-destructing Rory McIlroy early, and then holed two clutch putts that felt like $10 million to hold off Jim Furyk on the back nine at East Lake. He closed with a 2-under 68 for a three-shot victory in the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup.

Horschel's career earnings were just over $4.5 million coming into the year.

He collected $11.4 million in one day - most of that the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus - with an incomparable run through the playoffs.

The 27-year-old from Florida was runner-up in Boston, a winner in Denver and he cashed in big in Atlanta. Horschel was No. 69 when the playoffs began a month ago. No one had ever won the FedEx Cup starting lower than No. 19.

He epitomized what these playoffs offered - one month for anyone to get a hot hand. Horschel shot in the 60s his last 12 rounds.

''He was clutch when he needed to be,'' McIlroy said. ''He played the best golf this week and I'm happy for him.''


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The only boos Horschel heard all day was doing the Gator chomp walking off the 18th green before a host of Georgia fans.

The timing was great for Horschel - not so much for the American team going over to the Ryder Cup in two weeks. U.S. captain Tom Watson made his three picks after Horschel's runner-up finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Now the hottest hand in golf - he should move up to No. 14 in the world - will be watching from home. Horschel figures to be plenty occupied. His wife is expecting their first child, a girl, in two weeks.

Furyk closed with two bogeys for a 69 and his fourth runner-up finish this year. He has not won since the Tour Championship four years ago. McIlroy never recovered from three straight bogeys around the turn, and three late birdies only helped him pick up some FedEx Cup cash. He closed with a 71 and wound up No. 3 in the FedEx Cup, which is worth an additional $2 million.

Chris Kirk, who started the Tour Championship atop the FedEx Cup standings, closed with a 68 and tied for fourth with Justin Rose (69) and Jason Day (69). Kirk wound up second in the FedEx Cup and earned a $3 million bonus.

Horschel finished at 11-under 269.

McIlroy will have to settle for a season worth more than $10 million - two major championships and the undisputed No. 1 player in golf. Whatever hopes he had of his first FedEx Cup ended early. He hooked his tee shot into the water on the par-3 fifth and made double bogey to fall three shots behind.

Needing to start picking up ground on the 600-yard ninth hole, he blasted his drive so far right that it wound up a foot away from the out-of-bounds fence of the practice range. There was no way out. With his caddie and a rules official ducking in the holly bushes, McIlroy slashed out with a wedge over the bushes and through a gap in the trees that only he saw. Next, he had a mobile TV truck lowered to ground level to get his third into the fairway. But his wedge came up short, and he made bogey.

Two more bogeys later, including another three-putt at the 10th, he was five shots behind and out of the mix.

By then, it was a two-man race between Horschel and Furyk.

Horschel won by not losing. He raced a 50-foot putt nearly 8 feet by the hole on the 13th, and calmly sank the par putt to keep a one-shot lead. Furyk, playing in the group ahead of Horschel, got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 15th to tie for the lead, only for Horschel to get up-and-down from a bunker to regain it.

The key moment came at the 16th, where Horschel drove into the trees, pitched out to the fairway and came up about 30 feet short on his third shot. Right when it looked as if he might blink first, Horschel drained the par putt to stay in front.

Ahead of him, Furyk came up well short of the 17th green and missed a 12-foot par putt. Horschel was already on the 18th tee when he watched Furyk three-putt the par-3 18th hole for another bogey. He put another shot in the middle of the green, taking away all the drama from the finish.

Not that it mattered to him.

Horschel is young enough - this is only fourth full year on the PGA Tour - that $10 million still matters. He conceded on Saturday that it would be hard not to think about it. Along with the bonus ($9 million in cash), Horschel gets a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.