By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.com Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- Billy Horschel came to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans believing his time had come on the PGA TOUR. He had boldly predicted as much to Zurich Insurance Group CEO Martin Senn several days ago.
So when the four-time All-American from Florida lined up the potential winning putt Sunday on the 72nd hole at rain-soaked TPC Louisiana, he sensed a calmness come over him.
"I read it right away,'' Horschel said. "I knew exactly the break on it and everything. I just told myself, I haven't made one of considerable length this week. And I was like, you know, 'if it's my time, this putt needs to go in.'''
Twenty-six feet, eight inches later, his ball found the bottom of the cup, and that all elusive first victory and the accompanying winner's bounty of 500 FedExCup points -- which lifted him to third in the standings -- and a check of $1.188 million belonged to him.
And Horschel did it in style, too.
He set a tournament record at TPC Louisiana at 20-under 268 with rounds of 67-71-66-64. He played the last 45 holes in 18 under. His final-round 8-under 64 also tied a course record and included six consecutive birdies on holes seven through 12. He posted three more birdies, giving him 15 for the weekend and 26 over four rounds.
It turned out Horschel needed every one of them to stave off D.A. Points, who shot 65 and finished one shot back at 19-under 269.
But none was bigger than the final one. Had Horschel two-putted for par, they might be still be playing because Points rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt after the fact.
|Billy Horschel closes out his Sunday 64 to claim his first win on the PGA TOUR.|
To say that Horschel was due to win is an understatement. He had made 22 consecutive cuts coming into New Orleans and finished in the top 10 in the past three events, including a T2 at the Shell Houston Open when Points prevailed.
Horschel's gallery of fans had grown by leaps and bounds. But until he reached the winner's circle on TOUR, it mattered little. He needed a win to validate his game.
It came on a day when inclement weather suspended play twice for a total of four hours, two minutes. It came on a day when second- and third-round leader Lucas Glover failed to protect a two-shot lead. It came on a day when Horschel would not be denied.
As Horschel sat in the media center waiting to speak to reporters, he fielded a call from his parents. Reporters grew impatient as the minutes ticked by. Finally, he said goodbye and wiped away the tears.
"This is something that I've wanted since I turned pro,'' he said. "I've always felt that I was good enough to win out here. I just felt I had to check every box. Some guys get out here and win right away. Other guys, it takes longer for them to get to that process.''
The newest winner on TOUR now plans to take some down time back home in Ponte Vedra, Fla., where he resides with his wife, Brittany. Horschel's winnings will come in handy because they just purchased a new house with plans to renovate.
He will skip this week's Wells Fargo Championship and attempt to keep his cut streak intact at THE PLAYERS in two weeks.
"What else can I say?'' Horschel said. "27 Feet in the hole ... first victory. You can't ask for anything else. It's still unbelievable.''