Sam Horsfield Continues Incredible Summer Season
Sam Horsfield’s incredible season continued at the Celtic Classic, where he shot a final round of 67 to secure his second European Tour victory in a fortnight. Horsfield claimed the first European Tour win of his career at the Hero Open a fortnight ago, missed the cut in his next event but came storming back to prove his first success was no fluke.
After two hours were lost at Celtic Manor due to thunderstorms in the afternoon, it was close to darkness when Horsfield sank the putt that made him the 2020 Race to Dubai's first multiple winner.
His bogey-free 67 in Wales took the Englishman to 18 under. Just like in the Hero Open, Belgian Thomas Detry was second on 16 under after a 67, a shot clear of countryman Thomas Pieters, England's Andrew Johnston and Scot Connor Syme.
American John Catlin, England's David Horsey, Pole Adrian Meronk and Finn Sami Välimäki finished four shots off the lead.
Horsfield started the day one shot behind Syme but he had a share of the lead after the first and never looked back as he became the first player on the European Tour to win an event, miss the cut, and then win again in three consecutive weeks.
The victory takes 23-year-old to the top of the UK Swing mini Order of Merit, into the top 10 on the Race to Dubai Rankings and into the top 100 on the world rankings - his highest ever placing in the global standings.
"I never really felt nervous or felt uncomfortable, maybe because I was in this situation a few weeks ago," he said. "I’m a little more relaxed than last time I did it. It was good. I felt like I played really solid all day and gave myself a lot of opportunities.
“After I missed the cut last week I was never concerned. I felt like after your first win and everything that was going on I felt a little mentally drained and I probably should have decided to take the week off. I just wasn’t all there but I knew my game was in good shape so I basically just forgot about last week.
"It was pretty dark coming down 18. That putt on 18 I couldn’t really see much of what was going on but I was set in stone on finishing that round. I didn’t want to get up at whatever time and finish on Monday morning.”
Detry holed a 30 footer on the second to close the gap at the top and he was soon within one as Syme failed to get up and down on the first and gave up just a second bogey of the week.
Horsfield hit the front with a long putt at the third and another birdie at the fourth meant he was two ahead.
Detry holed another long putt on the seventh to get in a share of second but Horsfield holed from 12 feet at the same hole to extend his advantage.
After the two hour delay, Syme's first challenge was a short par putt on the eighth which he made, and he got up and down on the ninth to trim the lead back to two.
Detry took advantage of the par five 11th to get to 15 under and when Syme made a birdie on the same hole from four feet, the pressure was building on Horsfield.
Detry holed a 15 footer on the 14th but Horsfield holed from 16 feet on that hole to give himself a bit of breathing room.
Syme took on the short par four 15th but needed a further four blows from in front of the green.
Horsfield needed a par save on the 17th to stay at 18 under and with his two challengers parring their way home, he was the champion.
Pieters finished his round of 67 with four consecutive birdies while a closing 68 made it back to back top 20 finishes for Johnston.
THERE will be no Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Branden Grace or Charl Schwartzel in the 125-man field for the Northern Trust this week as the FedEx Cup Playoffs get under way after they all failed to make the grade. But there will be a place for 42-year-old Jim Herman after his victory in the Wyndham Championship.
Herman began the week in 194th place in the standings but an extraordinary performance over the weekend saw him secure his third PGA Tour success and leap to 54th place.
He had been planning to drive home to Palm City, Florida, to see his wife Carolyn and their kids Abigail and Andrew, but will now be heading to TPC Boston. “My son's probably not going to be too happy about that, but he'll forgive me since I'm bringing home the trophy,” Herman said.
Even Herman admitted that he hadn’t seen this win coming as he makes the playoffs for only the fourth time in his career. It was the largest move in the regular season finale since 2009, eclipsing the 110-point surge when Davis Love III won at Sedgefield in 2015.
“Yeah, the FedExCup was definitely off the radar,” Herman said.
Herman has made 195 starts on the PGA Tour, with just 10 top-10 finishes - but he has managed to turn three of those into wins.The first came at the 2016 Houston Open when he beat Henrik Stenson by one stroke and Dustin Johnson by two. The second came a year ago at the Barbasol Championship, ending a dismal string of 16 missed cuts in his previous 19 starts.
“Last summer was just a little validating, overcoming some injuries and just, you know, getting old,” Herman said. “You get old pretty quick out here with the young guys. They make you feel inadequate off the tee and especially long irons. You know, it's mentally frustrating. To overcome it all and get here for a third time is pretty amazing.”
And making the win at Sedgefield even more satisfying was Herman’s performance on the weekend.
When he bogeyed the 14th hole on Friday, Herman was outside the cut line but he birdied the next three holes to make it to the weekend. And then he caught fire...
He shot a wonderful bogey-free 61 on Saturday. Four shots back, he finished the tournament with a 63 to hold off Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedExCup winner, and former Wyndham and Players champions Si Woo Kim and Webb Simpson.
Herman has now used three different putting grips for each of his wins - the claw at Houston, a conventional grip at Barbasol and cross-handed at the Wyndham.
Among the many keys on Sunday was the 59-footer Herman holed for eagle at the fifth hole. In all, he made 157 feet of putts in the final round and 444 feet for the week. He ranked first in greens in regulation and among the top five in Strokes Gained: Putting, Approach-the-Green, Off-the-Tee and Tee-to-Green.
That is some turnaround when you consider that he had missed 27 cuts in his past 40 starts.
“I guess whenever you win, you never really truly expect it,” Herman said. “I mean, there's the guys at the top, they're expected to win every week and they should expect that, they're that good. You know, we're all really darn good out here, but the mental game, it beats you down.
“It's very, very satisfying to, you know, be in the mix, put myself in a position to be near the lead and then come from behind and go low on a Sunday to get a win. You watch it on TV, I watch that on TV all the time watching the guys and now to be able to do it is pretty amazing.”
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