April 29, 2013 in Sports

Horschel sinks long put for first PGA Tour title

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Billy Horschel celebrates after making a 27-foot birdie putt to win the Zurich Classic.
(Full-size photo)

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 of the Zurich Classic on Sunday in Avondale, La., 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.

“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.”

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.

LPGA

Inbee Park shot a bogey-free 4-under 67 to win the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout in Irving, Texas, by a stroke over Carlota Ciganda, whose chance for a first LPGA victory was wiped out in a two-hole stretch.

Park, the world’s No. 1 women’s player, finished at 13-under 271 for her third victory this season and fifth in her last 18 starts.

After starting the day two strokes behind Ciganda, Park went ahead to stay with consecutive pars on Nos. 14 and 15. Ciganda had bogey and double bogeys on those holes, part of her 70.

Suzann Pettersen, the winner in Hawaii last week, had a closing 66 to get to 10 under and finish third.

Champions Tour

After finishing second twice, Jeff Sluman finally won the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf in Savannah, Ga., with a new teammate.

Sluman, a two-time runner-up with Craig Stadler at the Champions Tour’s team event, partnered with Brad Faxon for a one-stroke victory at the Club at Savannah Harbor.

Gene Sauers, playing in his hometown, teamed with Kenny Perry to finish tied for second with Fred Funk and Mike Goodes at 22-under. Stadler and Kirk Triplett were among eight teams to finish another shot back in a tie for fourth.

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