DUBLIN, Ohio — Billy Horschel put an end to any doubts about his victory at Muirfield Village with an eagle putt from one end of the green to the other on the 15th hole, earning him a four-in Memorial Tournament on Sunday. Shot sent for the win.
Horschel was staked for a five-shot lead at the start of the sun-drenched final round, and no one ever got close to two shots. He closed with an even 72.
There are still some nervous moments.
Horschel’s streak of 49 consecutive holes without a bogie ended on the sixth hole. He did not make his first birdie until the 10th hole. He had to scramble for a bogey on par-3 12th which cut his lead over Aaron Wise to two.
Before Long Eagle, Horsell defended himself with equal puts at 12 feet on the 13th hole and 8 feet on the 14th.
And then it was over. Par-5 From the front of the green on the 15th, Horschel’s putt had perfect line and perfect speed from inside 55 feet, slamming to the left and falling to the left of the cup as he stretched both arms out in a calm, disbelief Celebration.
“Like you, big man,” Horschel said to tournament host Jack Nicklaus when it was over.
His lead was four shots, and it was a comfortable end. Horschel finished 13-under at 275 and won $2.16 million, the biggest paycheck of his career. As an advanced event, winnings come with a three-year exemption.
Horschel said he learned from Tiger Woods and Nicklaus that he didn’t need to do anything special with a five-shot lead unless the time needed was enough. It was calling on the 15th hole when Wise hammered a nail into 2 feet for the birdie.
He said, ‘If I had to do something special, I was ready for it. “It was huge to make.”
Wise worked so hard in the final round that there was no better shot than 69. He and Joaquin Niemann were the only players to put any serious pressure on Horschel. He opened the back nine on the 12th with a pair of birdie sands saved from the back bunker. But he dropped a shot on the 13th, when Horschel looked shaky.
Wise made a meaningless bogey on the final hole for 71 and finished alone in the second.
Cameron Smith, who had a 36-hole lead, also started five shots behind. He had a pair of double bogeys on the front nine for 42 runs and that was never a factor.
Nieman, who won another elevated event in the Riviera at the Genesis Invitational, made a strong move and crawled within bounds until a bunker was found on the 14th, leading to a double bogey. He replied with two birdies, ended with a double bogey and scored 71. He finished third with defending champion Patrick Cantley (71).
Before joining hands with Nicklaus, Horschel was surrounded by his three children. He now has seven PGA Tour wins. His wife has seen him win. His parents have seen him win. It was the first time their kids were there, and they were lounging on the firm greens.
Maybe any pressure is as great as Horschel felt.
“With the five-shot lead, knowing it was mine to win, I really wanted to get the monkey off my back,” he said of winning with his kids in attendance.
Horschel moved right out of the world’s top 10, the highest he has ever been in, thanks to a year that has finally brought some consistency to the hit-and-miss game. They’ve had three wins in the last 15 months, all against strong fields – last year’s Dale Match Play and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and now this.
It may even be enough to make it a final consideration for the US team with the Presidents Cup later this year.