CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. (AP) — Billy Horschel took a beating on social media for finishing second last week. Choker, they called him. A man who couldn’t finish the deal.
Didn’t bother him at all.
“That just adds fuel to my fire,” he said, “and I’m just going to stick it to you every time.”
Playing his best golf at the perfect time of year, Horschel won the BMW Championship on Sunday, blowing a three-shot lead to start the day but coming back to shoot 1-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over Bubba Watson.
PHOTO GALLERY: BMW Championship Final Round
Horschel finished at 14-under 266. He will head to the Tour Championship second in the FedEx Cup standings, with as good a shot as anyone at winning the $10 million grand prize.
“If I were a betting man, I’d put a little money on me,” he said.
Horschel said the way he closed the last tournament — chunking a 6-iron on the 18th fairway when he had a chance to tie or beat Chris Kirk — hardly bothered him.
“Obviously, now when you look back at it, it’s awesome,” he said. “But I didn’t even think about it when I won. I had a one-stroke deficit (last week) on 18, and I had to hit a good shot, and unfortunately, I didn’t.”
A week later at Cherry Hills, his last full shot was a 9-iron from the middle of the fairway that he hit safely into the middle of the green. His two-putt secured the $1.44 million first prize for this, his second PGA Tour win.
Some things we witnessed at the BMW Championship:
RORY’S HUMAN: No, that was not a replay. The world’s best player, Rory McIlroy, needed four putts on the 12th green not once, but twice.
He followed up Saturday’s four-putt effort from inside of five feet with another four-putt, this time from 20 feet. McIlroy finished at 8-under, tied for eighth place. If he’d two-putted No. 12 the last two days, he’d have tied for second.
WHAT A WEEKEND: Morgan Hoffman basically had no chance, which is why, all of a sudden, he’s still playing.
After heading into the weekend mired in 53rd place, Hoffman simply started going for it. The result: Rounds of 62 and 63 that propelled him into third place and, more importantly, into the top 30. That not only gives him a spot at the Tour Championship but also guarantees his spot at the Masters next season.
“Nothing to lose, carefree, and just go out and fire at pins,” Hoffman said. “That’s basically how I was playing pretty much the whole time during these playoffs.”
PUTTING MATTERS: Trailing by two on the 18th green, Watson had a chance to put some pressure on Horschel with a 25-foot putt for birdie. It missed. No surprise.
The Masters champion ended up second despite finishing 42nd in putting over the week.
Even so, he closed the tournament with three straight 66s and is third in the standings — one of five players who can win the FedEx Cup simply by winning next week.
“Maybe that’s when I make my putts,” Watson said. “That would be nice to make them there. Ten million bucks worth of putts wouldn’t be too bad.”
OH, SERGIO: This week sort of summed up Sergio Garcia’s career in a nutshell: Moments of awe-inspiring brilliance mixed in with some head-scratching mistakes.
Not once, but twice over the week, Garcia chipped in for eagle on the par-4 seventh hole. He led heading into the weekend, then trailed by seven after Saturday. His back-to-back 2s on Nos. 6 and 7 Sunday shaved the deficit to two.
That’s where things stood when he lined up his second shot, 250 yards away from the green on the reachable par-5 17th. Instead of going for it, though, he laid up. Then, he hit a wedge over the green. Then, he hit his fourth shot into the water. He made 8 and finished tied for fourth.
He blamed the fatigue of the season for the decision not to go for the green in two.
“It’s what happens when you’re not mentally sharp,” Garcia said. “Then, just a mistake after another mistake.”
CHERRY HILLS HAS TEETH: The world’s best men hadn’t been to this venerable layout since the PGA Championship in 1985. Long hitters, combined with the relatively short course and the mile-high altitude made it obsolete for the PGA Tour.
But a remodeling a few years ago and some thoughtful tweaks — turning two par-5s into par-4s for the big boys, for instance — made the course anything but a pushover.
Take the famous first hole that Arnold Palmer drove to begin his rally for a victory at the 1960 U.S. Open: Only 10 of 177 attempts to drive the green on the 340-yard par 4 were successful. It yielded only one eagle (To a Palmer, of course. Ryan Palmer.).
– By Eddie Pells, AP National Writer
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