With his PGA Tour season hanging in the balance after a missed
cut at last month's Barclays tournament, he gave himself a timely
wake-up call and proceeded to finish second, first and first to
secure FedExCup honours and the $10 million jackpot.
Horschel's performance in the season-ending event at East Lake Golf
Club was hugely impressive as he extended his run of scores in the
sixties to 12, the longest on Tour, and outshot world number one
Rory McIlroy in the final round to triumph.
"It's surreal, it really is," a beaming Horschel told reporters
after closing with a two-under-par 68 in damp, overcast conditions
to finish three ahead of fellow American Jim Furyk and McIlroy. "I'm
on cloud nine, it's unbelievable."
"I warmed up pretty well and got off to a pretty solid start, had
some good looks on the first three holes, and just kept playing
solid. Maybe the back nine could have been a little bit cleaner, but
it was good enough to get the job done.
"I'm thrilled to be the FedExCup champion and the Tour Championship
champion, especially with the year I've had."
Horschel was ranked 69th entering the four-event playoffs and
dropped to 82nd after missing the Barclays cut, knowing he had to
stay in the top 70 at the following week's Deutsche Bank
Championship to advance to the BMW Championship.
All this after he had recorded just two top-10s and seven missed
cuts in 24 starts on the 2013-14 PGA Tour.
"I remember flying home and I talked to my wife, and she's like,
'you'll probably just wait until the season is over, start a new
season.' I was sort of was," said Horschel who, at 27, became the
youngest FedExCup champion.
"But at the same time I knew my game was in the right shape, and I
just needed to get out of my own way, needed to allow my golf game
to show, and did it show the last three weeks."
Horschel was an invigorated man over those next three weeks, putting
superbly as he rose to second in the FedExCup points list after
finishing runner-up at the Deutsche Bank Championship and then
winning last week's BMW Championship outside Denver.
At East Lake this week, he held at least a share of the lead after
every round and said he felt relaxed for most of Sunday as he kept
his closest challengers at bay over the final holes.
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The most pivotal moment came when Horschel was just one stroke ahead
of Furyk and somehow sank a par-saving putt from 30 feet at the
par-four 16th, where his tee shot had sailed right into trees.
"The putt was huge on 16," said Horschel, whose wife, Brittany, is
scheduled to give birth to their first child in two weeks.
"I put the best stroke on it I could and got up to the top of that
ridge, and I'm like, 'man, this looks like it's going into the
hole.' Had a little bit of steam to it and it went in there dead
center. That was just a great feeling.
"I knew where Jim stood. I knew where everyone else stood and I
didn't want to give a shot back coming in."
Horschel, who earns a combined $11.44 million for his week as the
Tour Championship purse amounts to $1.44 million, will be a notable
absentee from the Ryder Cup.
Despite being the hottest player in the game, Horschel produced his
brilliant form a little too late to qualify automatically for Tom
Watson's United States team or to become one of three wildcard
"Even with this extra win, I still don't feel like I deserve to be
on the team," said Horschel.
"I haven't played good enough this year. I haven't played good
enough over a two-year period to be on the team, and I understand
"I'm not upset with that. I'm over it. I've been over it since the
picks were made at Deutsche Bank, and I'm fully supportive of the
U.S. team and everyone else."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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