Billy Horschel stepped into the winner’s circle for the first time on TOUR as he held off D.A. Points to set the tournament record and win the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana just outside New Orleans. American Horschel rammed in a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to defeat American Points by one shot. Fellow countryman Kyle Stanley shared the podium in third two shots further back. Horschel’s 20-under-par 268 broke the 2012 record set by Jason Dufner and Ernie Els by one shot.
If you haven’t been on the Billy Horschel train the last month you are either brand-new to fantasy golf or are a contrarian. His knuckles are bloody from knocking on the door as he shot 67-66 on the weekend in Houston to finish T2 to D.A. Points. The following week he slipped a bit as he just finished T3 at Valero. After not qualifying for the Masters, he broke back into the top 10 at RBC Heritage with T9 after a wobbly 74 on Sunday. This was coming and he didn’t make gamers wait much longer. He’s now made 23 straight cuts. That leads the TOUR.
Many of us thought that Horschel would excel during the “Florida Swing” because he mentioned on his website that he was most familiar with those courses and grew up on those greens. Ironically, the Florida Swing was his WORST swing of 2013 as he finished T46, T56 and 75th at API that included a Sunday 85. He tested gamer’s faith but he rewarded those of you who stuck with him. Up-and-downs are a part of any golfer’s season and it’s the reply that I look for. After his 85 he opened the SHO with 68. Asked and answered that. Horschel has no problem making birdies and hitting GIR. This week, his putter pushed him across the finish line.
What’s next? Good question. If you had any questions about Horschel, they should have been answered TODAY. He sat through TWO weather delays and still fired the T-lowest round, 64, of the tournament. All on Sunday. This fantasy golf guy is going to continue to ride the Horschel Train. I think he saw how fun this was and probably would like to do it a few more times this year, let alone in his career. He’s played tight courses well; he’s played birdie-fests well. I’m sold.
With this victory, Horschel collects $1,188,000 and 500 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
There have been 18 tournaments this season. After Americans won the first 14, the rest of the world, Scotland, Australia and Northern Ireland, have won the next three in a row. That streak came to an end today as the USA is back in business.
In 2013 10 of the 17 stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) has gone on to victory. This is the fifth week in a row where the 54-hole leader(s) have not held up their end of the bargain as Lucas Glover(two shots) slipped to T4.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods THRICE (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33) and Horschel (26). The young folks (30 and younger) now have seven victories; the 30-somethings have nine victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. This week’s “great hope” for the Old folks was Ernie Els, as he finished T15.
Billy Horschel kept the “newbie” flavor at TPC Louisiana flowing this week as he joins Tim Petrovic (2005), Nick Watney (2007), Andres Romero (2008) and Jason Dufner (2012) as first-time winners on TOUR. That’s five newbies from seven winners at this course. That’s a trend, folks!
D.A. Points: He made two bogeys this week against 21 birdies and didn’t win. Points held off Horschel at a very similar setup at Redstone yet it was Horschel returning the favor this week. After his victory at SHO, Points went back to being Points as he had finishes of T53 at Valero and T38 at Augusta and didn’t have any rounds in the 60s. This goes to show that certain guys like playing certain setups. We saw this same correlation last week with Innisbrook and Harbour Town. Lesson learned.
Kyle Stanley: Welcome back to the recap, Stanley! This is the first trip back to the top 10 since his victory last season in Phoenix. A top-50 ball-striker, Stanley has really struggled with his putting and his game. He went through three caddies last year and this year he ranks 184th in strokes gained-putting. In 29 rounds this year, he fired in the 60s only five times. This week, he played the final three rounds 67-65-67 because he ranked in the top 10 in strokes gained-putting. He only made one bogey on the weekend and he didn’t win either! The questions here are: Did he turn the corner this week? Or, was this just an aberration. Stay tuned.
Bobby Gates: Another week, another sponsor’s exemption making some noise as Gates built on his T24 from 2012 to finish T4 this year. If he wasn’t on your radar this week, don’t feel bad. He shouldn’t have been. He was 0-7 this year with one round in the 60s. When the average winning score is around 15-under, none of those numbers would have ever turned my eye. Gates just missed out on his full-time status last year as he finished 129 on the money list. This top 10 will get him into the next open event.
Lucas Glover: The 54-hole leader made 17 birdies in the first two rounds to jump out in front but his weekend of 70-71 with only seven birdies wasn’t enough to put Glover back in the winner’s circle. Glover was T4 at Honda back in March but his best finish in five events heading into this week was T38 and he MC three times. Glover now goes into the Zurich “horse-for-course” hall of fame with T4 (2013), T19 (2009), T8 (2007) and T3 (2005). He’s another player in the top 10 this week who relies on ball-striking and hopes his putter heats up. It did this week.
Boo Weekley: Raise your hand if you were swearing at Weekley after he MC last week yet opened with 65 this week. Keep your hand up if you thought that he would not be a factor this week if he couldn’t dominate at HHI last week. Is your arm getting tired yet? Another from the ball-strikers, can’t putt club, Weekley made three eagles this week and hit the top 10, T6, for the second time in five events. Well done, Weekley but everyone was expecting this LAST WEEK.
Harris English: After a promising rookie year last year English is enjoying the roller coaster second season that so many young players go through. He began his year T9 at Sony. In his next six events he missed two cuts and his best finish was T51. After T7 at Tampa Bay, he rattled off four more events where his best finish was T50. Have you figured out the pattern yet? I would have suggested that Sony and Tampa Bay would have led to a great week at Hilton Head. Nope, 70-75 MC. Youngsters…
Aaron Watkins: Speaking of the Zurich horse-for-course Hall of Fame, Watkins has now teed it up twice here and finished T7 (2009) and T8 this year. Who’s Aaron Watkins? Good question. He’s somebody you should take here next year. In his six events leading into this week he had missed five cuts and had a T30 in Puerto Rico. #urwelcome.
John Peterson: The LSU grad should be in your memory from last summer as he finished the U.S. Open T4. This was his third TOUR event of the season as the Masters and Valero were the other two. He finished T75 in Texas and T60 at Augusta. BUT. He did finish T10, his best finish of the year, on the Web.com Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open. If this man is playing in Louisiana or in the U.S. Open he commands your attention. Rob Bolton put him in group four of the Golf Channel game. He told you so.
Nicolas Colsaerts: One of the most popular questions each week during our LIVE Fantasy Chat on Wednesdays is: “What do you guys think of Colsaerts this week?” Well, this was the week where he finally found a course that he could take it deep and stay out of trouble. It’s not easy to pack up and leave your comfort zone to play courses you’ve never seen before. Colsaerts can play golf, that’s not the issue. The issue is going to be when is he playing golf comfortably. He’s now lit up Doral and TPC Louisiana. Connect the dots, people! (Read: easy courses).
D.H. Lee: You have to keep your “H’s” straight. D.H. was T8 and Richard H. Lee was T21. Richard H. was T9 and T13 in his previous two starts before his T21 today so you should be familiar with him. D.H. on the other Hand (see what I did there?), doesn’t even Have a current page on PGATOUR.COM. Your guess is as good as mine why this is the case. He made only four bogeys this week and his T8 finish, I am going to guess, is his best on TOUR.
Luke Guthrie: Eerily similar to Lucas Glover, Guthrie finished third at the Honda Classic and managed to make only two cuts in his next five tournaments. Guthrie’s T8 gives him eight top 25s in 17 career starts. There are much, much worse places to look for players on a weekly basis than this kid. He destroys par fives and is fifth on TOUR in birdies made. No wonder why he was in the top 10 in a week where low scores were the order of the day.
Kevin Stadler: He’s now cashed in nine of 11 starts in 2013 and his T8 this week makes for his second finish inside the top 10 (T3; Pebble Beach). Last year was his first year to make over 1 million ($1,546,036) and he did that in 25 events. This season he’s already close to 800k through 11 events so he’s starting to come into his own. He was just three out of six here with T24 his best finish before T8 this week.
Jimmy Walker: Things got expensive for Walker on the back nine Sunday but he still hit the top 10 for the fourth time in 11 events this season. He tied the lead after he played his first eight holes on Sunday four-under. In his next six holes, he made a double, two bogeys and a birdie and was left in the dust. No matter. Walker has been KILLING it for me in the Yahoo! game this season and I am not being greedy. He now has made 19 cuts in a row, good enough for second-best (Horschel, 23) on TOUR. His next progression is a W and Butch Harman can teach, folks!
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Justin Rose: His T15 wasn’t what gamers were hoping for but it was a solid performance. I was lucky that I left him off my Yahoo! lineup all week and he didn’t go nuts. After making only two bogeys before the cut, he made five on the weekend to see his chances of winning dissipate. If he’s in the field, he’s an automatic choice. His worst weekend finish was T46 last August at The Barclays.
Bubba Watson: My one-and-done came down to Rose and Watson and it wouldn’t have mattered as he finished T15 as well. Watson proved the theory of not putting too much weight on less than stellar results from a major. Watson finished T50 at Augusta but found two rounds this week of 65 and 66 so his game is right there. It was the opening round 73 and the Saturday 72 that hindered his chances of a big finish this week.
Jason Dufner: The defending champion continues his struggle with his game and putting in 2013. His T42 finish included a solid 67 on Saturday but not much else. He even used a new putter as he tried to shake it up. He began Sunday T17 and shot even par. After destroying this place over the last three years, his T42 this week has me officially concerned for the near future. If he didn’t break out this week…
Nick Watney: He backed up his T13 at the Masters with another solid result this week. He made a bundle of birdies, 21, but his double-bogey on No. 15 on Sunday kept him out of the top 10 so things are looking up. It’s time to get back on board if you weren’t already.
Rickie Fowler: Playing the middle two rounds a combined even par won’t get you where you need to go when 20-under is the winning score. Fowler either finishes in the top 10 or T30-something. You should have had him with Horschel this week in the Yahoo! C Group and you shouldn’t have had to use him!
Charley Hoffman: 71-71 and a missed cut. That was a nice ride and now it’s over.
Keegan Bradley: It’s shocking that a wide-open course that requires a ton of birdies hasn’t been Bradley’s cup of tea. He’s MC-MC in his only two events here.
Thorbjorn Olesen: High-risk and high-reward for a young Euro who hasn’t seen many of these courses. He rewarded you at API and Augusta; he didn’t pay out this week. It happens. He’s not going anywhere.
Jordan Spieth: See above.
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