Billy Horschel stared down the No. 1 player in the world, holed a clutch par putt on 16 and walked away with the biggest prize in golf Sunday at the Tour Championship. Here’s the skinny on the final round at East Lake:
Leaderboard: Billy Horschel (-11); Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy at -8; Chris Kirk, Justin Rose and Jason Day at –7
What it means: With back-to-back playoff titles (and a share of second place at the Deutsche Bank), Horschel won not only the $10 million FedEx Cup but also the $1.44 million first-place paycheck at the Tour Championship. Prior to this week, he had less than $8 million in career earnings. Given the way both Horschel and Chris Kirk closed out the season, it’s easy to imagine Tom Watson with his head in his hands, wondering where this kind of form was a few weeks ago when he made his Ryder Cup picks.
Round of the day: Tied with McIlroy at the start of the day, Horschel made birdie on Nos. 4 and 5 to take the outright lead, but he was tied with Furyk on the 15th tee. The former Florida product made birdie on the par 5, then made a clutch par on 16 and easy two-putt par on 17. On the last, the long par 3, Horschel hit his tee shot to 30 feet and made a stress-free par. He shot 68, his 12th consecutive round in the 60s during these playoffs.
Best of the rest: During a year of close calls, Furyk had yet another one Sunday. In a position to apply pressure on Horschel, Furyk instead made a sloppy bogey from short of 17 green, then couldn’t convert his 5-foot par putt on 18. His 69 dropped him into a share of second place, his fourth runner-up this season.
Biggest disappointment: With fans dreaming of a Horschel-McIlroy duel, the world No. 1 didn’t hold up his end of the bargain, making double bogey on No. 6 then making three bogeys in a row around the turn. Three consecutive birdies late gave McIlroy a share of second and a third-place finish in the FedEx Cup.
Shot of the day: Facing a 30-footer for par after having to pitch out on the par-4 16th, Horschel rammed home the putt that kept him one shot clear of Furyk. Up ahead on the next green, Furyk left his approach short and missed a 6-footer for par.