GolfHorschel caps amazing run with FedEx Cup championship
Just three weeks ago, Billy Horschel had every reason to start looking ahead to next season.
He had missed the cut in the first FedEx Cup playoff event to fall to No. 82 in the standings. He only had two top 10s all year, scant evidence that he was on the verge of something special. He was weeks away from becoming a father.
What followed was the best golf of his life, and a payoff that was more than he could grasp.
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"I'm not sure life can be better than this," Horschel said.
Horschel capped off his improbable playoff run Sunday at East Lake in Atlanta by pulling away from Rory McIlroy early and holding off Jim Furyk late. He posted his 12th straight round in the 60s — a 2-under 68 — to win the Tour Championship by three shots and claim the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
That's what these FedEx Cup playoffs are all about — who can get the hot hand over the last four tournaments.
Horschel took that to a level only Tiger Woods can appreciate. No one had ever won the FedEx Cup starting the playoffs lower than No. 19. Horschel started at No. 69. But he was the runner-up in Boston, a winner in Denver and he cashed in big in Atlanta.
Those three weeks of prize money and the FedEx Cup bonus were worth nearly $13.5 million.
"I remember flying home and talking with my wife and she said, 'You're probably just waiting for the season to be over and start a new season.' I sort of was," Horschel said. "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. I needed to allow my golf game to show."
■ Paul Casey shot a four-under 66 to win the European Tour's KLM Open at 14 under, a single shot ahead of fellow Englishman Simon Dyson. Casey looked to be cruising to victory before recording his only bogey of the day at the par-three 15th at Zandvoort, Netherlands. He followed that with a wild tee shot on the 16th but his second shot out of the rough landed wide and bounced onto the green, giving him two putts for par.
St. X grad Thomas wins Web.com event
Justin Thomas won the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship for his first Web.com Tour title, beating Richard Sterne with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff in Columbus, Ohio.
Thomas, a former St. Xavier standout who played in college at Alabama, hit a wedge from 75 yards to 21/2 feet to set up his winning birdie on the par-4 18th. Sterne blew a late three-stroke lead, then missed a birdie putt in the playoff after leaving his approach 20 feet short.
"I just tried to stay patient today and you have to do that here," Thomas said. "I don't want to say it's a relief to win, but it's hard to win with the level of play out here. ... It means you're the best that week and you beat everybody you played against. It's a really cool feeling and it's tough because it doesn't happen very often, especially in professional golf."
Playing the four-event Web.com Tour Finals for PGA Tour priority after wrapping up a tour card with a top-25 finish on the Web.com regular-season money list, Thomas earned $180,000 to jump from fifth to third with $470,470 with one event left.
"It's crazy," Thomas said. "I feel like of all the chances I had, it's crazy how this one kind of worked out, but sometimes that's how it happens. I believe everything happens for a reason and it just happened to be my week."
Thomas also earned a spot next year in the Memorial Tournament at nearby Muirfield Village. He was the 2012 college player of the year as a freshman and led the Tide to the 2013 NCAA title.
South Korean teenager wins LPGA major
Going up against a seven-time major winner more than twice her age, it was teenager Hyo-Joo Kim who showed the calm nerves of a veteran. Kim came from a shot back on the last hole to beat Australian great Karrie Webb by one shot on Sunday and win the Evian Championship in France, becoming the third youngest major winner at 19 years, 2 months.
The South Korean trailed the 39-year-old Webb heading into the 18th but turned the tables with a birdie from 12 feet out. Webb then missed a chance to force a playoff when a difficult attempt for par from the same distance drifted left of the hole.
Kim led Webb by one shot overnight and they both posted 3-under rounds of 68 in perfect conditions, with no clouds or wind to disrupt them. She finished on 11-under 273 overall, having shot the lowest ever round in a major with a 61 on Thursday.
Only Morgan Pressel and Lexi Thompson — both from the U.S. — have won majors at a younger age than Kim, who is studying physical education in Seoul.
Gilliland's 90th-minute equalizer not enough
Arin Gilliland scored with 28 seconds left on the clock in regulation to tie the match at two apiece with No. 12 Pepperdine and force overtime, but the Waves scored two minutes into the extra frame to defeat No. 24 Kentucky in Sunday's women's soccer match at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.
■ Kentucky's men's golf team finished fifth in its first tournament of the season. South Florida dominated The Invitational at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C., finishing 27 shots clear of second-place Georgia State and 36 shots ahead of the Cats.
Freshmen Tyler McDaniel (Clay County) and Cooper Musselman (St. Xavier) were UK's top finishers individually. They tied for 14th at 3-over par, 11 shots behind winner Chase Koepka of South Florida.
High school soccer
State's top girls' teams playing in Lexington
A high-powered Lady Knights Challenge Cup girls' soccer tournament begins Monday at Lexington Catholic.
The eight-team tournament includes five of the top six ranked teams in the state. All eight teams are in the top 25.
Action kicks off Monday at 6 p.m., with top-ranked Notre Dame taking on No. 25 Elizabethtown. At 8 p.m., No. 2 Sacred Heart will meet No. 10 Tates Creek.
Tuesday, No. 22 Highlands will face No. 5 Assumption at 6 p.m., followed by No. 4 Manual against No. 6 Lexington Catholic.
Matches also are set Wednesday and Thursday at 6 and 8 p.m.
Saturday's final day of play begins with a seventh-place match at 1 p.m., leading up to the championship at 7 p.m.
EKU's Mobley earns pair of OVC honors
Eastern Kentucky running back Dy'Shawn Mobley was named the Ohio Conference's offensive player of the week and newcomer of the week after rushing for 123 yards on six carries in the Colonels' 55-13 rout of Morehead State on Saturday. The transfer from the University of Kentucky ran for a 61-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. He also had a 54-yard run.
■ The Eastern Kentucky men's basketball program picked up a commitment Sunday from Nick Mayo, a 6-foot-8 senior from Belgrade, Maine. In 19 games last season, Mayo averaged 15.1 points, 13.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.5 blocks. He also shot 81 percent from the free-throw line.
The last word
Golf legend Greg Norman is recovering from a chain saw accident that nearly cost him his left hand. He was cutting back trees at his South Florida home when the weight of a branch pulled his left hand toward the chain saw. He said doctors told him it missed his artery by a fraction of an inch. But he could still make light about the incident, though:
"There's a little tingling in my fingers, which is better than no fingers at all."