Stat attack!: BMW Championship review

Billy Horschel sure knows how to recover from disappointment. One week after a final-hole bogey cost him a chance to win the Deutsche Bank Championship in a playoff, the fourth-year PGA Tour player rebounded to win the BMW Championship, the third leg of the PGA Tour Playoffs, with a stellar 14-under 266 at Cherry Hills CC. Horschel shot four rounds in the 60s to become the sixth player since 2010 to win after finishing second the previous week, and he brought back memories of other great recoveries of recent years.

Players who won on the PGA Tour one week after finishing second: 2010-2014

 Player Runner-up Victory
 Billy Horschel 2014 Deutsche Bank 2014 BMW Championship
 Matt Kuchar 2013 Colonial 2013 Memorial
 Brandt Snedeker 2013 Waste Management 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach
 Kyle Stanley 2012 Farmers Insurance 2012 Waste Management
 Rory McIlroy 2012 Match Play 2012 Honda Classic
 David Toms 2011 Players 2011 Colonial

Memorable recoveries after losses in recent men’s golf history

Needing a birdie at the last hole to force a playoff at the 2014 Barclays, he chunked a chip and made bogey. There were no such issues Sunday, as a final-round 69 kept him two comfortable strokes ahead of Bubba Watson at the BMW.
Stanley imploded at the 2012 Farmers, making 8 on the last hole and losing a playoff to Brandt Snedeker. One week later he made up 8 strokes in the final round to win in Phoenix.
Not a week-to-week rebound, but major-to-major. Rory recovered from his final-round 80 in the 2011 Masters to win the U.S. Open with a record-setting 72-hole score (268).


Another major-to-major rebound, Phil was the 54-hole leader at the 2013 U.S. Open, then shot 74 Sunday to lose by two. He followed with his first Open Championship victory in his next major start.
Furyk bogeyed two of his last three holes at the 2005 Barclays to lose by a stroke to Padraig Harrington, and then won the Western Open (now the BMW) the following week.
After missing a 6-foot putt on the last hole of the 1991 Ryder Cup that cost Europe a chance to win, Langer won the following week’s German Masters in a playoff. 

Horschel’s victory at the BMW Championship was the work of improved putting (he led the field in strokes gained after entering the week ranked 100th on Tour in that category) that led to four rounds in the 60s for the second straight week. Entering the playoffs, Horschel’s longest streak of rounds in the 60s this season was three, all coming in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. These past two weeks mark the third and fourth times in his career that Horschel has had four rounds in the 60s.

Billy Horschel: Four rounds in the 60s

 Tournament Scores Finish
 2014 BMW Championship 68-66-63-69—266 Won
 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship 69-66-67-69—271 T-2
 2013 Waste Management Open 69-68-64-67—268 T-11
 2013 Humana Challenge 67-68-65-67—267 T-10

Horschel also was second in the field in greens in regulation at the BMW, hitting 55 of 72, including 11 straight to end the second round. Accuracy on approach shots has long been a staple of Horschel’s game. He’s fourth on Tour in GIR and has been in the top 50 in each of his four seasons. He famously hit all 18 greens in regulation in the second round of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.

Billy Horschel’s rank on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation

 Year GIR percentage Rank
 2014 70.03% 4
 2013 67.48 27
 2012 68.79 14
 2011 67.07 47

Next up for Horschel is the Tour Championship at East Lake, which he enters as the hottest player on the PGA Tour. But he’s not the only golfer playing well entering the season finale. Six men come into the Tour Championship with two top-10 finishes in the PGA Tour playoffs.

Golfers with two top-10 finishes in the PGA Tour Playoffs

 Player Barclays Deutsche Bank BMW
 Jason Day T-2 T-7 WD
 Rickie Fowler T-9 T-23 T-4
 Jim Furyk 8 T-23 T-4
 Morgan Hoffmann T-9 T-35 T-3
 Billy Horschel MC T-2 Won
 Rory McIlroy T-22 T-5 T-8

All six will have a chance for a third top-10 (and perhaps more) at East Lake, although Day must be considered questionable after withdrawing from the BMW with a sore back halfway through the second round. The 30 players who advanced to East Lake include every one of the top 10 finishers at Cherry Hills. The big winners were Morgan Hoffmann, who climbed from 68th to 21st by virtue of his third-place finish, and Ryan Palmer, who finished T-4 and moved from 37th to 23rd on the point’s list.

How the top 10 finishers at the BMW Championship rank entering the Tour Championship

 Finish Player FedEx rank Rank entering BMW
 1 Billy Horschel 2 20
 2 Bubba Watson 3 6
 3 Morgan Hoffmann 21 68
 T-4 Jim Furyk 7 8
 T-4 Sergio Garcia 13 23
 T-4 Ryan Palmer 23 37
 T-4 Rickie Fowler 9 10
 T-8 Adam Scott 12 13
 T-8 Rory McIlroy 4 2
 T-8 Jordan Spieth 11 9

While the top finishers at the BMW Championship all lived to play another day and continue their 2013-14 PGA Tour seasons, the next five finishers at Cherry Hills all failed to advance.

How the players who finished 11-15 did not qualify for the Tour Championship

 Finish Player FedEx rank What was needed to advance
 11 Graham Delaet 37 T-4 with no more than three players
 T-12 Angel Cabrera 50 Solo fourth or better
 T-12 Charl Schwartzel 43 Solo fourth or better
 T-12 J.B. Holmes 42 T-4 with no more than two players
 T-12 Chesson Hadley 49 Solo fourth or better

As the players above lament missed chances, the most snake bit player after the BMW Championship was Stuart Appleby, who finished 31st in the FedEx Cup standings, 14 points behind Dustin Johnson. Appleby, who finished T-46 at Cherry Hills, basically finished two strokes too high, needing a solo 44th or no more than a three-way tie for 43rd to advance. To add to Appleby’s poor luck, Johnson, who finished 30th, is not going to play in the Tour Championship, having taken a leave of absence from the Tour prior to the Playoffs for personal reasons.



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