Gators golfer Billy Horschel wins AT&T Byron Nelson in stunning fashion

By Adam Silverstein
May 21, 2017
Gators golfer Billy Horschel wins AT&T Byron Nelson in stunning fashion
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Image Credit: PGA Tour

The finish of the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson was a gut-wrencher. One of the top non-major tournaments on the PGA Tour calendar was contested through the entire final round — so much so that it necessitated a playoff hole. In the end, former Florida Gators golfer was the victor and left Irving, Texas, $1.3 million richer.

Horschel started the final round one shot back of three-day leader James Hahn, but it was 15-time winner Jason Day that he competed with most of Sunday. A career-long 59-foot putt gave Horschel a share of the lead at 11-under, and he and Day entered the final two holes of regulation knotted at 12-under.

A wayward driver on the 17th made it look like Horschel was headed for bogey, but he successfully scrambled to save par and remain tied with Day heading into the final hole. Horschel’s approach on 18 found its way 26 feet from the hole, and though Day was closer with a makeable 18-foot putt, both missed and entered a playoff.

Replaying the 18th, Horschel and Day both found the second cut with their drive. After Day missed a tough birdie putt, Horschel came just 4 inches short of draining his and walking off with a victory. Horschel tapped it in for par and waited for Day to follow suit with a 5-foot putt. Instead, Day shockingly pulled his attempt left, clinching a surprise victory for Horschel, who immediately burst into tears on the green.

“Four missed cuts and to come in here with nothing to really say I was going to play well — and I played well,” Horschel said through tears after the round. “Unfortunately, I don’t want to win like that. It was a battle all day between James, Jason and I. Somebody was looking out for me today.”

Horschel had not won a PGA Tour event since 2014 entering Sunday, having captured the BMW Championship and Tour Championship that year to go on to win the 2014 FedEx Cup. His previous victory came at the 2013 Zurich Classic.

If Day had not collapsed on his final putt, Horschel’s 4-inch short putt would have cost him nearly $500,000. Instead, he banks the winner’s $1.3 million share, boosting his career earnings to $15.5 million.

Horschel had only banked $905,865 in 2017, and though he had two top-10 finishes, he also missed four straight cuts entering this event. He was ranked 71st in the FedEx Cup standings before the Byron Nelson but leaves among the top 15 golfers in the rankings.

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