It was going to take a near-perfect, bogey-free round to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Sunday, especially with the demanding foursome format in play for the final 18 holes of competition.
The duo of Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy achieved that goal and more, combining to forge a 5-under-par 67 in the final round to finish at 22-under 266 and claim a one-stroke victory at the TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La., on a warm and partly cloudy afternoon just south of the Crescent City.
The final round featured foursome (alternate shot) competition, after switching between that format and fourball over the first three days of this tournament.
In foursomes only one ball is in play per team, with one player hitting the tee shots on even-numbered holes and the other on odd numbers, and the players taking alternate shots until the hole is completed.
Horschel and Piercy started the day three shots behind the leaders but swept to the top of the leaderboard by the turn, carded five birdies over the first 11 holes and parred the final seven as their challengers faded away down the stretch.
“My partner was awesome this week — he hit some huge shots and made some up and downs that I didn’t want to have to deal with.” Piercy said. “I was kind of zoned out out there, but I knew my partner was hitting good shots. I just had to go out him in the right spot for the next one.”
Jason Dufner and Pat Perez had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie on the final hole, but Dufner left his 15-foot putt short and to the right of the hole as the duo ended up a stroke in arrears at 267 after a final-round 68.
“We missed a couple of putts and I didn’t do much to help Duff, but it was a good week and fun event,” Perez said. “Billy and Scott just played better than we did and they didn’t make any mistakes that would have given us a chance to jump in front of them.”
The South African team of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen finished third at 268 upon fashioning a 68. Schwartzel was a last-minute substitute for fellow South African Branden Grace, who missed the tournament after the birth of his child, a boy.
Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, earned the first victory of his PGA Tour career at this event in 2013 before it became a team event. He’s now won for the fifth time while Piercy garnered his fourth Tour victory.
“It means a lot to win here, for both of us,” Horschel said. “Scott’s had injuries over the past year, and I haven’t been consistent with my game. We both put a lot of hard work into our game, so it’s nice to see the validation and see some results.”
Only 10 of the 36 teams broke par on Sunday, led by the winning duo’s 67.
“Scott is a really great wedge player so I knew if I could get him to within 125 yards of then hole he would likely leave me with a putt inside 10 feet, and that strategy worked, especially through the first part of the round,” Horschel said.
The English pairing of Chris Paisley and Tommy Fleetwood (69) finished tied for fourth with Americans Brice Garnett and Chesson Hadley at 269 after Paisley pitched in for eagle from 47 yards away on the final hole.
Tony Finau and Daniel Summerhays were sixth at 270 while Masters champion Patrick Reed and partner Patrick Cantlay (69) finished in a tie for seventh at 271 with the duo of Tyler Duncan and Adam Schenk (71) and Scottish team of Martin Laird and Russell Knox (71), five shots off the winners’ total.
Third-round leaders Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown skidded to a 77 on Sunday and finished tied for 15th place at 273 with three other pairs, including second-round leaders Michael Kim and Andrew Putnam (76).
“My putting has been a little bit inconsistent over the last year, but it’s been really good over the past few week,” Horschel said. “I told Scott to just get me on the green because I thought everything I hit was going to go in, and he did a really good job of that.”
The PGA Tour moves northeast to Charlotte next week for the Wells Fargo Championship.
–Field Level Media