CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- Confidence may not be everything in golf, but it doesn't hurt. Right now, no player on the PGA TOUR has more confidence than Billy Horschel.
A tie for second last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, followed by a two-shot win Sunday at the BMW Championship makes Horschel the hot man on TOUR. It couldn't have come at a better time, given that the FedExCup and its $10 million bonus are up for grabs next week in Atlanta.
"I'm not going to go ahead and guarantee a victory right now," Horschel said about his chances of winning the FedExCup this week, "but I will say that I'm probably going to play very well and I will have a chance to win on Sunday."
Strong words, but who can blame him?
You could argue that he's a fat 6-iron away from consecutive victories in these Playoffs. Unlike Monday's poor swing on the 18th hole at TPC Boston that cost him a chance to catch eventual winner Chris Kirk, Horschel successfully avoided any meltdowns at Cherry Hills.
He started the day with a three-shot lead over Ryan Palmer, but by the time they finished the 11th hole, the two were tied at 14 under.
At that point, though, it was Palmer who drifted back, a victim of his own poor swing that he shanked out of the rough at 13, costing him a double bogey.
Horschel had to survive challenges from Bubba Watson and Sergio Garcia on the back nine, although neither player put serious heat on him (Garcia eventually was done in by a triple bogey). And even though Horschel wasn't as his best, he did nothing wrong to give anybody else hope, reeling off 11 consecutive pars after making his final birdie of the day on the seventh hole.
"I didn't have my great stuff," Horschel said about his 1-under 69.
And so when he reached his approach shot at the 18th hole Sunday, were there any memories of that fat 6-iron he hit on his approach at 18 six days earlier? The one that he refused to dwell on this week but that others used in social media circles to criticize his game?
No, Horschel didn't think about it. All he could think about was hitting the shot, then running to the bathroom.
"I had been holding it for way too many holes," Horschel said with a smile. "I just felt like, you know, I can sort of relax now."
And as for any critics that still don't believe in Billy Horschel?
"You want to keep saying negative things to me, that just adds fuel to my fire," he said. "I'm going to stick it to you every time."
Hmm, playing well and playing with a chip on his shoulder. Maybe a victory guarantee next week isn't that outlandish.
Billy Horschel redeems himself with win at BMW
BUBBA'S PUTTING: Nobody in the 66-man field played better from tee to green this week than Bubba Watson. In fact, he ranked first in the PGA TOUR's newest category, Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, picking up 3.880 strokes per round at Cherry Hills.
As for putting, Watson ranked. He actually gave up 1.056 strokes per round on the greens.
Considering he finished solo second, two shots behind Billy Horschel ... well, it isn't hard to figure out what part of his game cost Watson the tournament.
"You're going to have weeks like that," Watson said. "And I'll take it. It's one of those things where I had a shot. ... Second place is a start in the right direction."
PALMER'S SHANK: After 11 holes, Ryan Palmer had caught Billy Horschel. They were each 14 under and Palmer had the momentum.
But then he bogeyed the 12th hole after failing to get up-and-down from the rough. Then after finding the rough at the par-4 13th, Palmer shanked his second shot, with the ball finding the creek on the other side of the fairway, costing him a penalty stroke and eventually resulting in double bogey.
"It wasn't very good, obviously," Palmer said with a laugh. "It came out straight right."
Asked how often that has happened to him, the Texan replied: "A shank? Not very often. But I'm going with the downhill, down in the rough -- I'm blaming it on that."
Despite throwing away the tournament at that point, though, Palmer still had plenty to play for in his final five holes. He had come into the week ranked 37th in FedExCup points and needed to secure a spot in the top 30 advancing to East Lake.
He suffered two more bogeys down the stretch but still finished tied for fourth, which left him 23rd in points. That puts him in three majors next year -- the Masters, the U.S. Open and the Open Championship.
"I'm ecstatic that I did that," Palmer said. But shooting a 40 on his back nine, he said, "will hurt for a little while."
Ryan Palmer shanks his approach into water on No. 13 at BMW
QUIET 62: Given all the FedExCup ramifications that were going on when Russell Knox finished his round, it's no surprise that few people took notice of his final number.
But he did shoot a bogey-free 8-under 62, tying the Cherry Hills course record set by Morgan Hoffmann on Saturday.
Knox had started the final round tied for 53rd, so he wasn't in contention for the tournament. In fact, he started his final round off the 10th tee. And he had started the week 40th in FedExCup points, so he needed a top-four finish just to bust the top-30 bubble.
He opened with two birdies, had two more before making the turn, birdied his first three holes on his final nine and ended with another birdie at the par-4 ninth.
CALL OF THE DAY
Fred Albers of PGA TOUR Radio on Sirius XM and PGATOUR.COM calls Morgan Hoffmann's eagle putt on No. 17 at BMW Championship.
Morgan Hoffmann’s aggressive approach yield eagle on No. 17 at BMW
ODDS & ENDS
Given how well Billy Horschel has played the last two weeks, he might have been a good addition to the U.S. Ryder Cup team. But Tom Watson had to make his Captain's Picks on Tuesday, and Horschel did himself no favors with his final hole at TPC Boston. "He's not kicking himself for not picking me, I can guarantee you that," Horschel said. "I'm sure he's going to kick me because I didn't play better sooner." ...
Incidentally, Horschel's wife Brittany is due to have their first child on Sept. 27 ...
Defending FedExCup champion Henrik Stenson tied for 23rd and will not advance to East Lake to defend his title. He finished 52nd in points. "I'm in desperate need of some rest," Stenson said. ...
Jim Furyk finished tied fourth after a 66. That's his fourth top-5 finish in his last seven TOUR starts. It's also a record 14th top-10 finish in FedExCup events ...
For just the second time in FedExCup Playoffs history, no TOUR rookie will play at East Lake. Chesson Hadley was the lone rookie to make the Playoffs this year but he was eliminated on Sunday, finishing 49th in points ...
Four players successfully drove the 349-yard par-4 first hole Sunday: Angel Cabrera, Stuart Appleby, Charl Schwartzel and Steven Bowditch. All four players ended up with birdie.
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA OF THE DAY
Horschel: "Honestly, it feels good to win one for all the people who tweeted nasty things at me last week after Deutsche Bank." #FedExCup— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 7, 2014
Just incase anyone missed my 4 putt yesterday, I had to do it again 🙈 decent week overall, still in a great position going to Atlanta.— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) September 7, 2014
Hole outs in bunches at BMW Championship
THEY SAID IT
"If I was a betting man, I would put some money on me." -- Billy Horschel on his FedExCup chances
"10 million bucks worth of putts wouldn't be too bad." -- Bubba Watson, who hopes to putt better at East Lake than he did at Cherry Hills
"I didn't really hit it much better on the weekend than the first two days." -- Morgan Hoffmann, who shot 72-72 in the first two rounds and 62-63 on the weekend
"It's what happens when you're not just mentally sharp." -- Sergio Garcia, explaining his triple-bogey at the par-5 17th when he chipped over the green with his fourth shot and found the water hazard
"You know, it's a fickle game." -- Ryan Palmer, who was 5 over in his final seven holes after tying for the lead
ROUND 4 LEADERS
Category Player(s) Statistic Strokes gained: tee-to-green Russell Knox 5.144 Strokes gained: putting Morgan Hoffmann 3.865 Strokes gained: total Russell Knox 6.697 Driving accuracy Kevin Streelman, Cameron Tringale 11 of 14 (78.57 percent) Driving distance Bubba Watson 332.1 yards Greens in regulation Jordan Spieth, Camilo Villegas 16 of 18 (88.89 percent) Longest drive Bubba Watson 373 yards Longest putt Ryan Moore 45 feet, 3 inches Bogey-free rounds Russell Knox (62), Camilo Villegas (67), John Senden (68)
Hardest hole Par-3 15th 3.258 stroke average Easiest hole Par-4 3rd 3.424 stroke average
Click on the image below to see the best images during the final round of the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills.