Horschel gets first PGA win
Sunday, April 28, 2013
AVONDALE, La. — Billy Horschel sensed the time had come for him to win his first PGA Tour event. This could explain the composure he displayed in the face of two final-round weather delays and a 27-foot putt he had to make on the final hole to avert a playoff.
Horschel tied a course record at the TPC Louisiana with an 8-under 64 in the final round Sunday at the Zurich Classic, which was good enough to win by one stroke over D.A. Points.
Points put pressure on Horschel by hitting out of a bunker to set up a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th. Then Horschel rolled in his long victory-sealing putt, pumping his arms and letting out a triumphant yell before sinking into a crouch and briefly pulling his cap over his face as the crowd roared.
“I hadn’t made a long one all week and I said, ‘I’m due,’” Horschel said. “I was like, ‘If it’s my time, this putt needs to go in.’”
Soon after, he saw a video replay of his celebration.
“I know it was pretty intense,” he said. “There was a lot going on. It’s celebration time now.”
The 26-year-old former Florida Gator began the day two shots behind third-round leader Lucas Glover and surged into the lead with six straight birdies after the first weather delay. He finished at 20 under, narrowly holding off Points, who won the Shell Houston Open last month by a stroke over Horschel and Henrik Stenson.
“When a player goes out and shoots 8 under and birdies the last hole to win, hats off to Billy,” said Points, who had a 65. “He’s played great all year. He was one shot shy of me at Houston and I’m a shot shy of him here. It’s just the way it goes.”
The second delay, for lightning, happened before Horschel could take his second shot on the 18th hole, giving him 52 minutes to reflect on what was at stake — $1.19 million and a two-year exemption.
It didn’t really faze him. He said he tends to relax during delays, and almost always plays well after them.
“For some reason it puts me at ease a little bit,” Horschel said. “You don’t know how long your delay is going to be so you’ve just got to go with it and just wait it out. ... It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as it could have been.”
Kyle Stanley shot a 5-under 67 to finish third, while 14-year-old amateur Guan Tianlang of China finished 71st after making his second cut in two PGA events, the first coming at the Masters.
Although Horschel had never won on the Tour, he had been playing the best golf of his young career lately, with three top-10 finishes in his past three tournaments — tying for second in Houston, tying for third in San Antonio and tying for ninth in Hilton Head Island, S.C., a week ago.
“I played well. It just wasn’t my time,” Horschel said of his recent top-three finishes. “It was nice that today was my time.”
He has also made a PGA Tour-leading 23 straight cuts, and had already earned $1.3 million this year. Now he has nearly doubled that, thanks to a final round that tied a course record that has been matched several times, including by Rickey Barnes in Thursday’s first round.
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