CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colorado (Reuters) – Ice-cool American Billy Horschel withstood an early challenge from Ryan Palmer and a late charge by Bubba Watson to win his second PGA Tour title by two shots at the BMW Championship on Sunday.
Putting superbly when the pressure was at its most intense, Horschel fired a one-under-par 69 at Cherry Hills Country Club to hold off his closest pursuers in the PGA Tour’s penultimate FedEx Cup playoff event.
The 27-year-old American, who clinched his maiden victory on the US circuit at the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, sank clutch par putts from eight feet at the 15th and 16th holes on the way to a 14-under total of 266.
Horschel safely two-putted for par on the 18th green, then gave a little fist pump in celebration before being warmly embraced by his caddie.
“It just means a lot,” a smiling Horschel told NBC Sports after climbing into second place in the FedExCup standings ahead of next week’s Tour Championship finale in Atlanta.
“I haven’t had the greatest season but I had my game today,” he added. “I made some big putts and I could rely on my putter because I am a good putter inside 10 feet. This feels good.”
Masters champion Watson, five strokes off the pace heading into the final round, surged into contention for the title with four birdies on the back nine as he closed with a third successive 66 to secure outright second place.
American Morgan Hoffmann fired a 63 to finish third at 11 under while Northern Irish world number one Rory McIlroy four-putted the par-three 12th hole for a second day in a row on the way to a 66 and a tie for eighth place at eight under par.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia, helped by an eagle and four birdies in the first 15 holes, briefly got to 12 under but tripled-bogeyed the 17th after chipping his ball across the green into water to close with 67 and finish in a share of fourth, five off the pace. Horschel, however, commanded the spotlight as he kept his closest challengers at bay, twice relinquishing the outright lead before regaining it quickly on both occasions.