Having missed the cut in his last four starts, Billy Horschel hardly could have been expected to end his nearly three-year winless drought at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He hadn’t broken 70 in his past nine individual rounds leading up to the tournament, which he typically skips and had played on only two previous occasions – both missed cuts.
Such is golf. The 30-year-old jumped into contention with a 5-under 65 on Friday and then birdied his last three holes on Saturday to earn his way into the final group with Jason Day and James Hahn. His Sunday effort was erratic with five birdies and four bogeys but Horschel straightened up when it mattered most, holing a long, meandering putt on No. 14 and hitting the par-5 16th in two to capitalize on Day’s wayward tee shot there.
The LONGEST putt of his career …
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 22, 2017
After the two exchanged pars on Nos. 17 and 18, the first playoff hole came down to a putting contest, which Horschel won.
“I don’t want to win like that,” Horschel said. “Someone’s looking out for me today.”
The victory is Horschel’s fourth on the PGA Tour, the last coming in the 2014 Tour Championship the week after he captured the BMW Championship. Since then, he has been largely lost in the shuffle, sinking to No. 76 in the world.
Day’s short miss on the last hole was a bittersweet end to the final Byron Nelson at TPC Four Seasons Resort with next year’s tournament slated to being staged at Trinity Forest, a sprawling Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design.
The world’s fourth-ranked player had designs on ending his own year-long winless stretch when he holed a pitch shot on No. 15 to take a one-stroke lead, but it was his last birdie of the day.
Making birdie from THERE? Ridiculous!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 21, 2017
Also in contention throughout much of the afternoon was James Hahn, a 35-year-old who was seeking a PGA Tour victory in a third consecutive season. He held the 54-hole lead but bogeys on Nos. 12, 13 and 14 doomed his chances. He did, however, make a valiant effort on the 72nd hole, lipping out an approach shot that would have put him into a playoff.