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.''


Tour Championship: Articles, videos and photos


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.

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”