Reaching 22-under for the four days, Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy completed an impressive week that included a Saturday 61, to hold off a compelling leaderboard and capture the Zurich Classic by one stroke over the team of Jason Dufner and Pat Perez.
Neither Horschel nor Piercy had been playing their best golf over the past year, but they are feeling much, much better now after conquering the Zurich, with the victory marking the fifth career win for Horschel, and the fourth for Piercy.
HOW BILLY HORSCHEL and SCOTT PIERCY WON THE ZURICH CLASSIC
On Friday, the first day of alternate-shot, Horschel and Piercy birdied their first two holes, but back-to-back double-bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4 took the wind of their round, finishing with a 1-over 73.
Fortunately, by going 65-61 on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, they found themselves just three strokes off the lead heading into Sunday’s finale. As they’d done on day two, the duo started Sunday off birdie-birdie, but kept the momentum going from there, adding more gains on Nos. 7, 10, and 11 to vault into the lead.
They played defense from there, finishing with seven-straight pars for a low-round 5-under 67.
Dufner and Perez had a chance to force a playoff on the final hole, but a 14-foot birdie try from Dufner fell just short.
Both players on the winning team largely credited the victory to Horschel’s improved putting performance, which was spectacular this week. Horschel said after the round that his putting had been inconsistent, but cutting his PXG putter down to 33.5 inches has been the catalyst for a dramatic improvement.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR HORSCHEL and PIERCY
Neither Horschel nor Piercy were strangers to the winner’s circle, but both had to work through some considerable recent struggles to find themselves atop another final leaderboard.
The 31-year-old Horschel has never quite been able to recreate the magic from his epic 2014 FedExCup Playoff run when he took the crown despite being in the 82nd spot after one event.
However, despite not consistently contending over the past three seasons, he’s found ways to stay relevant, most notably with his surprise playoff win over Jason Day at last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson.
The current season was not shaping up to be one of Horschel’s best either. In his first 11 starts, his only top-40 was in a 34-man tournament, and he had a nightmare Masters leaving on Friday after reaching 11-over. He was able to regroup after Augusta, though, posting a T5 the following week at the RBC Heritage, and then chasing that with a T11 at last week’s Valero Texas Open.
Piercy got the most national attention of his career in 2016, when he finished runner-up in consecutive tournaments: the U.S. Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He started off his 2017 season well during the Fall Series, but then completely collapsed during the calendar year, with just one top-10 among a collection of poor finishes and missed cuts.
The 2018 season had treated him better, though, with seven top-25s among 13 starts, largely helped by an iron game that had him ranked No. 1 on Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green coming into the week.
His fourth win comes nearly three years after his third, which occurred at the 2015 Barbasol Championship.
The victory does not guarantee a spot at next year’s Masters for either, but they were still rewarded with copious exemptions, and 400 FedExCup points apiece.
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