Billy Horschel becomes second U.S. player ever to take flagship event.
Billy Horschel isn’t on the U.S. Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits in two weeks, but his victory in the BMW PGA Championship certainly had implications for the European squad.
Horschel, an avid snowboarder who belongs to Maroon Creek Club and divides his non-touring time between Colorado and Florida, birdied the 18th hole at Wentworth Club to finish with a 7-under 65 for the day and 19-under for the tournament. He was one shot better than Welshman Jamie Donaldson, and England’s Laurie Cantner—neither of whom are heading to Wisconsin, either.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who shot the day’s low round of 64, tied Donaldson and Cantner for second.
In winning, Horschel became only the second American ever to win the tournament. Arnold Palmer took the 1975 European PGA Championship title.
Making the European team on the basis of performance in the event was Austrian Bernd Wiesberger. Needing to finish in the top 50, he carded an 11-under to earn a share of 20th. He’ll be a rookie on the team, as will Ireland’s Shane Lowry.
Lowry needed to finish in the top eight to get an automatic spot. He tied for 17th, but European captain Padraig Harrington used one of his picks on his countryman.
Harrington’s other selections were Ryder Cup stalwarts Sergio Garcia, who didn’t compete in the weekend’s championship; Ian Poulter, who missed the cut; and Lee Westwood, who’ll be making his 11th appearance in the biennial competition, despite finishing T71 at even par.
Surprisingly, Harrington did not pick veteran Justin Rose. The Englishman tied Horschel’s final-round 65 to finish tied for sixth at 16 under. Rose needed to win the event outright in order to make the team on merit.
Colorado golf fans will remember Horschel for winning another championship sponsored by BMW—the 2014 BMW Championship at Cherry Hills—a week before he took the TOUR Championship at East Lake en route to the FedEx Cup title.
Horschel was obviously the hottest American golfer going into that year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, which would begin less than two weeks after the TOUR Championship. Captain Tom Watson, however, was required to set the team on September 1, obviating Horschel’s accomplishments.
This year, the fiery competitor won the WGC Dell Match Play, defeating Scottie Scheffler in the finals and proving his worthiness in team competition. However, captain Steve Stricker opted to take Scheffler, who was three spots ahead of Horschel in the U.S. Ryder Cup points standings, as one of his six captain’s picks.
He could still make it if Brooks Koepka pulls out due to injury.
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