Horschel holds on for ti­tle at BMW Cham­pi­onship

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By ED­DIE PELLS

CHERRY HILLS VIL­LAGE, Colo. — The bad swing a week ago is a dis­tant mem­ory. The blown lead Sun­day — that wasn’t enough to de­rail Billy Horschel, ei­ther.

Horschel let a three-shot lead drop to noth­ing early in the fi­nal round of the BMW Cham­pi­onship be­fore re­bound­ing for a two-stroke vic­tory over Bubba Wat­son. Horschel shot a 1-un­der 69 and fin­ished at 14-un­der 266 to put him­self in prime po­si­tion for the FedEx Cup ti­tle and its $10 mil­lion bonus at the Tour Cham­pi­onship next week.

“If I were a bet­ting man, I’d put some money on me,” said Horschel, who made $1.44 mil­lion for his sec­ond ca­reer PGA Tour vic­tory.

Horschel heads into the fi­nal week of the play­off chase in sec­ond place in the points stand­ings thanks to the vic­tory and his tie for sec­ond a week ago— when he chun­ked a 6-iron well short on the fi­nal hole at TPC Bos­ton, squan­der­ing a chance to win or force ex­tra holes with play­off leader Chris Kirk.

This time, nurs­ing a two-shot lead, the 27-year-old from Grant, Florida, smoothed a 9-iron into the mid­dle of the 18th green and the only drama was whether he’d have time for a quick pit stop be­fore he had to putt. Horschel sprinted up the fair­way, ducked un­der the ropes and was back in plenty of time to two-putt and close out the vic­tory.

“Ob­vi­ously, after last week, a lot of peo­ple on Twit­ter were call­ing me a choker,” Horschel said. “I didn’t choke. I made one bad swing at a bad time. To start with a three-shot lead to­day and hold on means a lot.”

About an hour ear­lier, it was another chun­ked shot that dras­ti­cally al­tered the course of the tour­na­ment.

Ryan Palmer erased his open­ing three-shot deficit to Horschel and was tied after six holes, then again after 11.

Palmer was one be­hind as the fi­nal three­some walked down the 13th fair­way, with Horschel buried in the right rough and Palmer buried in the left. Horschel hit his sec­ond shot safely on the green. Palmer shanked his into a small creek that runs in front of the green. He made dou­ble bo­gey to fall three be­hind.

“A shank? (Doesn’t hap­pen) very of­ten,” Palmer said. “But I’m do­ing with the down­hill, down in the rough, I’m blam­ing it on that. But it hap­pens. It’s a fickle game.”

That left Ser­gio Gar­cia, who cut a seven-shot deficit to two, as the last true threat, but his chance im­ploded on the par-5 17th — when he laid up, cooked his third shot over the green, then chipped into the wa­ter. He made a triple-bo­gey 8 — sul­ly­ing a round of 67. He fin­ished at 9 un­der, tied for fourth with Palmer (71), Rickie Fowler (68) and Jim Furyk (66).

“It’s what hap­pens when you’re not men­tally sharp,” Gar­cia said about the decision not to go for the green in two. “Then, just a mis­take after another mis­take.”

Horschel said los­ing the lead early didn’t bother him much.

“That’s why you have a three-shot lead. To have a lit­tle wig­gle room,” he said.

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