Sep 14

Billy Horschel wins Tour Championship, FedEx Cup and $11.44 million

Papa's got a brand new bag, and it's filled with $11.44 million. 

Father-to-be Billy Horschel closed out a historic run in the FedEx Cup playoffs on Sunday, winning the Tour Championship at East Lake for his second consecutive win and, in the process, claiming the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bounty. 

Horschel shot a final round of 2-under 68 to beat Rory McIlroy (71) and Jim Furyk (69) by three shots to win his third PGA Tour title. Furyk had opportunities to make Horschel sweat the final few holes, but a pair of closing bogeys on the 71st and 72nd holes gave the Florida Gator the breathing room to make it an easy finish.

Chris Kirk, who entered the week at No. 1 in the reset FedEx Cup standings, finished tied for fourth place with Justin Rose and Jason Day, locking up the runner-up spot in the final standings.

Horschel entered the playoffs ranked 69th, making him by far the worst-ranked player through the regular season to go on to win the FedEx Cup. Brandt Snedeker was 19th entering the 2012 playoffs.

Over the course of the playoffs, Horschel, who missed the cut at The Barclays, has earned $13.48 million, more than double his prior PGA Tour winnings.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 14

European Tour ace earns Andy Sullivan a trip to outer space

Most weeks in pro golf, a hole-in-one gets a player a car. Andy Sullivan's Sunday ace at the KLM Open, however, earned him a much more unique prize: a trip to outer space.

Sullivan made a hole-in-one at the par-3 15th hole at Kennemer Golf & Country Club, winning a seat on a future space excursion from sponsor XCOR Space Expeditions. The trip is valued at $95,000.

Starting in the second half of 2015, the excursions will take off from a launch pad in the Mojave Desert and going almost 39 miles into space before coming back to Earth.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 14

Greg Norman ‘lucky’ to keep left hand after chainsaw accident

Greg Norman feels "lucky" to not have lost his left hand in a Saturday chainsaw accident.

The two-time major winner shared a picture through his Instagram account of him laid up in a hospital bed with his left hand bandaged heavily.

“Working with a chainsaw ALWAYS be respectful of the unexpected,” Norman said in the caption accompanying the photo. “I was one lucky man today. Damaged, but not down & out. Still have left hand.”

The 59-year-old Norman is an outdoorsman with a do-it-yourself attitude. In fact, on Sept. 6, Norman shared a photo on Instagram in which he is wielding a chainsaw.

The caption, in part: " Never ask someone to do something that you can do yourself. Love to work!"


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 14

The case for delaying Ryder Cup captain’s picks

Look at the bottom of the Tour Championship leaderboard. You'll find three American Ryder Cup team members among the last five names, including Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson, two of Tom Watson's three wild-card picks. The other pick, Keegan Bradley, didn't qualify for the playoff finale in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Billy Horschel is in contention for a third consecutive week. After giving away a chance to win the Deutsche Bank Championship on the 72nd hole, he came back the next week to win the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills. On the back of three strong rounds at East Lake, Horschel not only finds himself again in position to win but with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the final group on Sunday.

Chris Kirk wasn't on Tom Watson's radar until he won the Deutsche Bank Championship on Labor Day. However, Watson favored Simpson and his ability to gel emotionally with a finicky Bubba Watson over the hyper-stoic Kirk. The Georgia product is four back heading into Sunday with an off chance of snagging the Tour Championship, FedEx Cup and its $10 million bounty.

Had Watson been given longer to evaluate his choices, would he still have picked the three he did? Just some of them? Watson won't say, but it's hard not to see the juxtaposition of players that were picked for the team against the ones staying home when the U.S. team heads to Gleneagles.

There's no reason not to give future captains all the time they need to make their choices. In fact, captains should be allowed to wait until the week prior the Ryder Cup to announce their wild-card selections. Affording captains the opportunity to name their picks anytime after the automatic qualifiers are announced adds intrigue to the picks and gives the maximum time to evaluate players. And it's not as though the teams are traveling by boat; the charter jet will be fueled up and ready to go regardless of which dozen players get on it. 

Given that each of the last two Ryder Cups has been decided by a point, any potential edge is worth pursuing including going to the very cliff of the PGA Tour season to finalize the team.

Sep 13

McIlroy, Horschel tied for lead heading into final day of Tour Championship

ATLANTA, Ga. - All day long at East Lake, everyone seemed to be waiting for something, anything, to happen. The skies wavered between blinding sunshine and foreboding cloud cover. The gallery had at least one ear ready for the impending Georgia-South Carolina game. The players burbled around the leaderboard, with all major swings taking place well away from the leaders.

And then came 15, and Rory McIlroy's eagle putt, and all of a sudden, the game was afoot. McIlroy shot a 67, while Horschel fumbled a bit on the back nine and ended with a 69. It's his 11th straight round in the 60s, but it was enough to erase his two-shot lead on McIlroy coming into the day.

Horschel and McIlroy now find themselves 18 holes away from golf's richest prize: the $10 million FedEx Cup. All each player needs to do is win the tournament and the Cup and payday is his. Both are -9, and will once again be paired with each other on Sunday.

A little further down the leaderboard is Jim Furyk at -6, whose last win was the Tour Championship in 2010. Furyk can win the FedEx Cup as long as Horschel or Chris Kirk don't finish in solo second place.

One stroke behind Furyk are Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, and Jason Day. All three can only win the FedEx Cup with a series of college-level algebraics determining where their pursuers must finish. At the moment, it's McIlroy or Horschel's to lose.

"Can we go tee it up right now?" Horschel said afterward. "I'm serious. That would help me out a lot. I'm ready to go. It's going to be so fun."

The big mover of the day in the positive direction was Gary Woodland, who rode a 7-under round to a -1 tournament just outside the top 10; not bad for a guy who started the tournament in dead last. On the other end of the spectrum was Jordan Spieth, who shot a horrendous 10-over 80. Spieth did not blame injury woes; he simply couldn't hit a fairway all afternoon. He, and the rest of the field, will get one last chance at glory, or at least redemption, on Sunday.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Sep 13

Horschel, McIlroy share lead heading into Tour Championship finale

The best player in the world and the hottest player of these FedEx Cup playoffs are tied heading into the 16th, and final, round of the four-event series. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and BMW Championship winner Billy Horschel are tied at 9 under par through three rounds of the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

McIlroy caught Horshcel with a 3-under 67 on Saturday. An eagle at the par-5 15th brought McIlroy level, aided earlier on the side by a pair of Horschel (69) bogeys.

While the co-leaders are two clear of the field, their nearest pursuer, Jim Furyk, made the Tour Championship his last PGA Tour win in 2010 when he clinched the season finale at the $10 million FedEx Cup first-place prize.

A trio of players are three back, including Justin Rose (third-roudn 72), Rickie Fowler (67) and Jason Day (70).

Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth turned in a shocking, 10-over 80 to fall from the fringes of contention to 28th place out of a 29-player field. Spieth is among three Americans on the Ryder Cup team in the bottom five of the leaderboard, with captain's picks Hunter Mahan tied for 25th and Webb Simpson in 27th place.

Sep 12

Billy Horschel would miss the birth of his daughter for a shot at $10 million

ATLANTA - It's not often that you get a chance to witness the birth of your first child. It's also not often that you have a legit chance at a $10 million payday. Which one would you choose?

Coming into Friday, Billy Horschel was tied for the lead at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, the final event in the PGA Tour's season. Should he win this tournament, he would also win the season-long FedEx Cup, which means a tidy $10 million check.

But his wife is due with their first child, a little girl, two weeks from Saturday. It's not inconceivable that Little Miss Horschel could be early for her tee time. What would daddy do then?

"We have decided that if she goes into labor while I'm playing, I will just keep playing, because $10 million is a lot of money and I'm not going to pass that by," Horschel said. "Right now the plan is not notify me while I'm on the golf course ... I would love to know, but [it does] sort of deviate from focus a little bit.  So I'll obviously get the information as I walk off 18 green if it does happen that way."

Yes, we'd imagine that the impending birth of your child would deviate from your focus a bit. There is precedent for this; as recently as last year, Hunter Mahan walked away from a tournament while in the lead when his wife went into labor. In 2009, Ross Fisher pledged to leave the British Open while close to the lead if his wife went into labor. (She didn't.) And in 1999, Phil Mickelson played one of the finest U.S. Opens in history knowing that his wife was about to give birth to their first child; he would lose to Payne Stewart, who memorably pulled Mickelson close and congratulated him on impending fatherhood.

Still, Horschel's in unprecedented territory here, financially speaking. He's got career earnings of $8 million; a $10 million payday would buy an awful lot of diapers. Plus, it's not like the kid's going to remember if you were there or not anyway.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Sep 12

Rory McIlroy’s tee shot literally lands in a spectator’s pocket

Rory McIlroy's drives have landed in some strange places, but this one may take the cake. 

McIlroy's tee shot on the par-4 14th hole in the second round of the Tour Championship sailed well right of the fairway, finding a tree. The ball rattled down around briefly in the tree before falling straight down...and into the right-front pocket of a spectator's shorts.

The spectator then stood still until McIlroy could make his way to him. After a brief conversation and bringing in the nearest rules official, McIlroy was given free relief, dropping the ball where the fan's pocket caught the ball. From there, McIlroy found the green, but the fan left without a souvenir ball. Instead, he got to shake hands with the world's No. 1 player.

McIlroy went on to make par.

It's not the first time a McIlroy tee shot has landed in a strange place. At the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, McIlroy's tee shot at the par-4 third hole became lodged in a tree. It was no matter; McIlroy went on to win his second major title in a blowout.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 12

The world’s longest golf club is ridiculous

The longest club in your golf bag, your driver, is probably about 45 inches long. Try swinging one that's 173 inches long!

Karsten Maas, a 49-year-old Dane, is in this year's Guinness World Records as owner of the world's longest usable golf club. The driver he wields is 14 feet, 5 inches long, and he has hit it as long as 180 yards. The momentum created on the downswing forces Maas to swing the club around his body three full times.

Strangely enough, this record has turned into a bit of an arms race in recent years. Maas set the record using a 13-foot, 5-inch driver in 2009, hitting the ball 135 yards. Three years later, Texan Michael Furrh used a 14-foot, 2.5-inch driver to launch a ball 146 yards. Just a year later, Furrh reclaimed the title and has hung onto it ever since.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.