Billy Horschel wins on European soil at BMW PGA Championship
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Billy Horschel wins on European soil at BMW PGA Championship

Billy Horschel always wears his heart on his sleeve every time he steps on the golf course, and Sunday was no different as some final hole fireworks allowed Horschel to take the title at the BMW PGA Championship.

Horschel stepped on the 17th tee at Wentworth thinking a birdie-birdie finish would earn him the trophy, and he couldn’t believe his birdie putt at the 17th didn’t drop. Horschel took a step after it and threw his putter high in the air—and made a nice catch— in disbelief.

Horschel went to the 18th tied at the top with England’s Laurie Canter at 18-under, but he was fuming walking down the fairway after his tee shot bounced through the fairway and settled on a downslope in the rough. Horschel was forced to lay up and left himself 91 yards for his third.

Horschel then seized the moment, as his wedge landed right of the hole and spun back to a foot, leading to a tap-in birdie. A huge fist pump and a “f*** yeah to caddy Mark Fulcher in celebration said it all. The win was sealed as Canter failed to birdie the last and finished second at 18-under.

Horschel becomes the first American to win the BMW PGA since Arnold Palmer in 1975 and the third player to win a WGC event and the BMW PGA in the same year (Luke Donald 2011, Rory Mcilroy 2014). He is also the first American to win a Rolex Series event on the European Tour.

Horschel had talked about it all week, but there is no question that this title means more to him than most other American players.

“In my mind, it's equivalent to The PLAYERS Championship. We have a great event on the PGA TOUR and I live there and would love to live that one but I have this one under my belt, and I'm very happy,” Horschel said.

Playing well in the lead up to the Ryder Cup isn’t new for Horschel, but his game seems to peak at the wrong time. Horschel won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in 2014 after the Captain’s picks had been made.

This led to the so-called “Billy Horschel rule” that moved the captain’s picks until after the Tour Championship. But even the new date hasn’t been enough for the Florida Gator. Horschel noted that being passed up once again gave him some extra motivation this week.

“It sucks not making the team. As I said all week, I didn't play consistent enough and well enough after I won the Match Play to warrant a pick or to get enough points to be an automatic selection,” Horschel said. “I was a little gutted I didn't get a call this week. A little gutted that I didn't get a call to say you didn't make the team. In my mind I thought I would at least get that. There was a little more added motivation this week for that.”

Kiradech Aphibarnrat bounced back quickly after shooting 74 Saturday. He began the day four shots behind leader Francesco Laporta, but went out in 30 and found himself in the lead alone after an eagle on 12 to move to 8-under on the day thru 10 holes.

He once held a three-shot lead on the back nine, but things began to unravel at the par-5 17th. Aphibarnrat’s drive found the fairway and left him in position to go for the green in two at the 600-yard par 5.

The Thai hooked a fairway wood into the hedges to the left of the green that looked like it may have finished out of bounds. His provisional ball finished in nearly the same spot. And a third settled short and right of the green. He somehow found his first ball and took an unplayable, leading to a bogey as he dropped into a share of the lead.

Aphibarnrat capped an eventful week with a par at 18 and waited in the clubhouse. At one point it looked like there might be a playoff, so Aphibarnrat headed to the range, but he wasn’t exactly focusing on hitting balls.

This came after a rock got stuck in his wedge as he pitched out of a water hazard Saturday. There’s never a dull moment with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, and we’ll see plenty of him on the PGA Tour next year as he retained his card at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals last week.

While the American squad was already set for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, the European team is being finalized today.

Bernd Wiesberger and Lee Westwood earned the final two qualifying spots, leaving Captain Padraig Harrington with a difficult choice between Shane Lowry and Justin Rose.

Lowry has had a much more consistent season, but Rose is in good form with four top-10s in his last 10 starts, including a T6 this week at Wentworth.

About the author

Peter Santo

Peter Santo

Peter Santo is a golf writer and a graduate of Emerson College. He previously covered all sports for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and The Washington Times.

When not writing about or playing golf, he can often be found listening to or creating country music.

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