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Golf

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Associated Press
Billy Horschel celebrates after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th green to win the PGA Zurich Classic golf tournament at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La., on Sunday, his first win on the PGA Tour.
Golf

Delays unable to slow first-time winner

– Billy Horschel sensed the time had come for him to win his first PGA Tour event. This could explain the composure he displayed in the face of two final-round weather delays and a 27-foot putt he had to make on the final hole to avert a playoff.

Horschel tied a course record at the TPC Louisiana with an 8-under 64 in the final round of the Zurich Classic on Sunday, which was good enough to win by one stroke over D.A. Points.

Points put pressure on Horschel by hitting out of a bunker to set up a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th. Then Horschel rolled in his long victory-sealing putt, pumping his arms and letting out a triumphant yell before sinking into a crouch and briefly pulling his cap over his face as the crowd roared.

“I hadn’t made a long one all week and I said, ‘I’m due,’ ” Horschel said. “I was like, ‘If it’s my time, this putt needs to go in.’

Soon after, he saw a video replay of his celebration.

“I know it was pretty intense,” he said. “There was a lot going on. It’s celebration time now.”

The 26-year-old former Florida Gator began the day two shots behind third-round leader Lucas Glover and surged into the lead with six straight birdies after the first weather delay. He finished at 20 under, narrowly holding off Points, who won the Shell Houston Open last month by a stroke over Horschel and Henrik Stenson.

“When a player goes out and shoots 8 under and birdies the last hole to win, hats off to Billy,” said Points, who had a 65. “He’s played great all year. He was one shot shy of me at Houston and I’m a shot shy of him here. It’s just the way it goes.”

The second delay, for lightning, happened before Horschel could take his second shot on the 18th hole, giving him 52 minutes to reflect on what was at stake – $1.19 million and a two-year exemption.

It didn’t really faze him. He said he tends to relax during delays, and almost always plays well after them.

“For some reason it puts me at ease a little bit,” Horschel said. “You don’t know how long your delay is going to be so you’ve just got to go with it and just wait it out. … It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as it could have been.”

Kyle Stanley shot a 5-under 67 to finish third, while 14-year-old amateur Guan Tianlang of China finished 71st after making his second cut in two PGA events, the first coming at the Masters.

EUROPEAN: In Seoul, South Korea, Australia’s Brett Rumford eagled the first hole of a three-way playoff to win the Ballantine’s Championship.

Rumford was leading by two shots when he double-bogeyed No. 17. He holed a 10-foot par putt at the last to finish at 11-under 277 and force a playoff with Marcus Fraser of Australia and Peter Whiteford of Scotland.

Rumford then holed a 4-foot eagle to earn the victory.

South African Louis Oosthuizen, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 7, shot a final-round 69 to finish three strokes behind the leaders in a share of fifth place.

LPGA: In Irving, Texas, Inbee Park shot a bogey-free 4-under 67 to win the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout by a stroke over Carlota Ciganda, whose chance for a first LPGA victory was wiped out in a two-hole stretch.

Park, the world’s No. 1 women’s player, finished at 13-under 271 for her third victory this season and fifth in her last 18 starts.

The 24-year-old South Korean sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th hole.

After starting the day two strokes behind Ciganda, Park went ahead to stay with consecutive pars on Nos. 14 and 15. Ciganda had bogey and double bogeys on those holes, part of her 70. Suzann Pettersen, the winner in Hawaii last week, had a closing 66 to get to 10 under and finish third.

CHAMPIONS: In Savannah, Ga., Jeff Sluman partnered with Brad Faxon to win the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf.

Sluman, a two-time runner-up with Craig Stadler at the Champions Tour’s team event, and Faxon won by a stroke at the Club at Savannah Harbor.

The duo had five birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of their round to get to 23-under and made par on their final four holes to hold on for the win.

Gene Sauers, playing in his hometown, teamed with Kenny Perry to finish tied for second with Fred Funk and Mike Goodes at 22-under. Stadler and Kirk Triplett were among eight teams to finish another shot back in a tie for fourth.

The tournament’s 54-hole leaders, Jay Don Blake and Roger Chapman, shot a 71 in their final round to finish in a tie for 16th, five shots back.

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