Billy Horschel fired an electrifying final round of eight-under 64 to win his first PGA Tour event at the Zurich Classic on Sunday, edging out D.A. Points by one shot in a thrilling duel.
On the final hole, Points' second shot to the par-five found the greenside bunker, but he knocked it to within six feet of the hole. Horschel calmly stepped up to his putt, and from about 26 feet, he buried a birdie putt to cap off a spectacular, special Sunday.
Below is a look at the tournament's top performers at TPC Louisiana. For the complete leaderboard, visit PGA.com.
|2||D.A. Points ||66-68-70-65||-19|
|3||Kyle Stanley ||72-67-65-67||-17|
|T4||Lucas Glover ||65-67-70-71||-15|
|T4||Bobby Gates ||67-70-70-66||-15|
|T6||Boo Weekley ||65-68-73-68||-14
|T6||Harris English ||68-70-69-67||-14|
|T8||Nicolas Colsaerts ||70-68-70-67||-13
|T8||John Peterson ||71-67-70-67||-13
|T8||Luke Guthrie ||67-71-69-68||-13|
This marked the first PGA Tour victory for the 26-year-old American, who finished at 20-under overall. He finally delivered after several close calls in recent weeks, which Golf Channel's Jason Sobel summarized:
Billy Horschel's first 57 PGA Tour events: Four top-10 finishes. His last three events: Three top-10 finishes. Includes a T-2, T-3 and T-9.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) April 28, 2013
Generous scoring conditions, courtesy of an early weather delay, made it ideal for attacking pins, and ultimately allowed Horschel to find 17 of 18 greens in regulation.
A flurry of birdies vaulted Horschel to the top of the leaderboard in the middle of the round. After four consecutive pars to start, he birdied the par-four fifth hole, and after another par, rattled off a whopping six consecutive birdies.
Points was playing alongside Horschel, though, and certainly didn't go quietly. He posted a seven-under 65 of his own in the final round, striking it just as brilliantly as his fellow competitor and putting phenomenally.
That marvelous flatstick work was on display most prominently on No. 5, when Points poured in this bomb of a putt to capture some early momentum:
The Shell Houston Open winner had a hot streak of his own in the middle of the afternoon, too, birdieing Nos. 10 through 13.
When a bogey at No. 15 dropped Horschel back into a tie for the lead with Points, Horschel responded in a huge way, just as he did when Points dropped in the long putt on the fifth hole:
The aforementioned delay earlier on lasted three hours, but the horn sounded once again at a critical juncture, as the PGA Tour's official Twitter page highlighted:
Delay could be around 20-30 minutes at @zurich_classic. Stay tuned. Billy Horschel leads D.A. Points by 1 with approaches on 18 awaiting.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 28, 2013
Let's take a look at the ramifications of Horschel's victory as well as some other storylines that emerged from this captivating tournament.
As if things couldn't get any more difficult for Horschel, the late, short weather delay forced him to go inside just before hitting his second shot to the par-five finishing hole. Making matters even crazier, he nearly injured himself trying to get to shelter amidst the thunderstorm activity:
Ironically, Horschel's tie for second in Houston with Henrik Stenson kept him out of a playoff at the Shell Houston Open by only one shot—because Points holed a putt on the 72nd hole to win that event.
On this occasion, it was Horschel's turn to play spoiler for a prospective extra set of holes.
How about that for sweet revenge for Horschel, who is among the most expressive and intense players on the circuit. That competitiveness was on display once again on Sunday, as he maintained his advantage out in front throughout in this thrilling two-man race to the finish in Avondale.
A fourth trip to qualifying school was needed for Horschel to regain his Tour card this season, and he is definitely taking advantage of the renewed opportunity.
Next Breakout Star?
Jason Dufner won here last year to back up his strong showing at the 2011 PGA Championship, where he lost in a playoff. It was Dufner's first career victory, just as is the case with Horschel, and Dufner went on to make the USA Ryder Cup team.
Check out this humorous connection from last month on Twitter between the two, which was initiated by Dufner:
@billyho_golf backwards hats for interviews?? C'mon bro.— Jason Dufner (@JasonDufner) March 31, 2013
It's clear that Horschel has a complete game, and he has consistently drained clutch putts down the stretch of tournaments over the past month.
In fact, Horschel's playing style and fierce focus on the course brings to mind Keegan Bradley, who coincidentally beat Dufner in the aforementioned playoff to establish himself as one of the premier American golfers.
14-year-old Phenom Finishes (+4)
Tianlang Guan captivated golf fans all over the world by making the cut at the 2013 Masters Tournament. He won the Silver Cup as the low amateur at Augusta National, and received a special invitation to this week's event.
Guan responded by making the cut yet again, and posted a respectable final round of 74. Here is the Chinese prodigy finishing up, nearly closing out in style with a birdie at the par-five 18th hole:
Especially considering Guan is not even close to filling out, the added distance he will experience in the coming years should make him a serious force to be reckoned with.
For now, though, his youthful exuberance is fun to watch:
This teen clearly has the makeup to be a golf superstar, with uncommon composure and maturity on and off the course. He told Jim Nantz of his intentions to play in a U.S. Open qualifier on the CBS telecast on Saturday, so Guan should be resurfacing again soon.