News & ToursSeptember 7, 2014

Horschel wins third leg of grand sham, aka FedEx Cup playoffs

The prescription for playoff fever, in this case, is to take two aspirin and turn the channel to football.

This is not how the PGA Tour diagramed it when it conceived the idea of a post-season to generate interest in golf in late summer.

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Billy Horschel at Cherry Hills on Sunday (Getty Images photo)

The highlight in the third leg of this grand sham was the 185th-ranked player in the world shooting 62-63 on the weekend in the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club to earn entry into the Tour Championship next week. Well played, Morgan Hoffmann.

Meanwhile, the winners of the first three events of this series known as the FedEx Cup playoffs were ranked 41st (Hunter Mahan in the Barclays), 45th (Chris Kirk in the Deutsche Bank Championship) and 45th (Billy Horschel in the BMW Championship on Sunday) at the time of their victories.

At the local club, that's known as the B Flight.

The top 10 ranked players in the world largely have played as though their seasons ended with the PGA Championship last month. One of them, Phil Mickelson, simply quit mid-tournament at Cherry Hills and went home. Collectively, they've produced only eight top-10 finishes in 28 playoff starts.

The top-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, four-putted the par-3 12th Saturday at Cherry Hills and did so again Sunday, missing from two feet, nine inches for par and three feet for bogey.

The fourth-ranked player, Sergio Garcia, threatened to restore gravitas to the proceedings, even shooting 29 on the front nine Sunday, before imploding with a triple bogey at the par-5 17th hole.

"That is a just a flat choke," NBC's Johnny Miller said, summoning the word for which he is best known. "Hate to say it, but two shots in a row."

The first, from 83 yards, flew the green, leaving him with what Miller called an "easy little chip" that Garcia blew past the hole, off the front of the green and into the water.

"There's some little missing link with Sergio in his finishes," Miller said from his psychologist perch about the 18th hole. "I don't know what goes on up there, but he misses something."

Horschel, at least, might one day force a reexamination of these FedEx Cup Playoffs and elevate them in stature. The game has been waiting for him to escape the shadow of potential, and a tie for second in the Deutsche Bank and a victory in the BMW Championship back-to-back might be the impetus.

At that, he'll best be remembered in those parts for how he navigated the 18th hole. After hitting his approach to the green, he sprinted up the left side of the fairway and disappeared, presumably to take relief, and not the kind dictated by an immovable obstruction.

He was not the only one who had to go. So did those in the crowd who were counting down to the Broncos' season opener Sunday night.

Are you ready for some football? In the wake of three weeks of playoff golf, do we even have to ask?

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