Monday, September 8

Billy Horschel Prevails as Playoff Casualties Mount

Billy Horschel
BILLY HORSCHEL CAPTURED HIS SECOND PGA Tour win and a measure of redemption at the BMW Championship in Denver. A final-round 69 propelled Horschel to a two-shot victory over Bubba Watson, who closed with a 66.

The 27-year-old Floridian moved into second place in the FedEx Cup points race as he heads to Atlanta for next week's playoff finale, the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.

Horschel let his sticks do the talking at Cherry Hills, and then he did some more afterward, answering social media critics who said he choked the week before in Boston.

"I didn't choke," Horschel said about his missed opportunity at the Deutsche Bank Championship. "I made one bad swing at a bad time. To start with a three-shot lead today and hold on means a lot."

While Horschel was holding on, other players were dropping out. That's the way these playoffs are designed. Only the top 30 players advance to Atlanta for the final.

But some marquee players were falling by the wayside for the wrong or suspect reasons, and at inopportune times. Phil Mickelson exited early after poor play in order to rest and prepare for the Ryder Cup. Keegan Bradley withdrew because he was haunted about a ruling. Jason Day withdrew with a bad back. Other players who stuck around hit uncharacteristic shots.

What's going on here?

Too many events, reported some, including Karen Crouse of the New York Times:
Ponte Vedra Beach, you have a problem. The FedEx Cup playoffs, instituted by the PGA Tour to deliver a fabulous finish to the season, has become a dusty stagecoach ride to exhaustion. 
It's clear the PGA Tour's yellow-brick road is in dire need of repairs when the reigning Tour Championship winner, Henrik Stenson, does not qualify to defend his title and expresses relief.... 
"I think it’s hard for the crowds sometimes to understand what we go through with the schedule," [Stenson] said. "Again, if you want to perform at the very highest level, at your peak, you've got to get the rest and practice in. You can't play every week."
This seems to come up every year. It's a bigger problem in a Ryder Cup year.

Mickelson and Stenson, two of the game's biggest stars, are out of the playoffs and not at all unhappy. Meanwhile, 30 others will continue on the march to Atlanta and the promise of further riches.

1 comment:

Hooked On Golf Blog said...

I definitely buy the exhaustion discussion. Between travel, Pro-Ams, and the events themselves there is no room for any kind of rest or practice during the playoffs.