ATLANTA — Brandishing what constitutes a rebellious side in golf, Billy Horschel often turns his cap backward upon holing out at No. 18. He has pondered playing an entire round with that slacker look, even after being advised that the PGA Tour might assess a fine.
Horschel could afford any such levy many times over after hauling away $11.44 million Sunday as the winner of the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup points bonus. He fended off Rory McIlroy early and Jim Furyk late to wind up at 11 under par, with three shots to spare, at East Lake Golf Club.
The season’s climactic round seemed to have been condensed to Horschel versus McIlroy, the presumptive player of the year.
But McIlroy recovered too late after his drive on the par-3 No. 6 was sucked up by the bordering lake for an eventual double bogey. He was the last of 18 golfers — on 15 percent of tee shots over the four days — who were subjected to water torture on what is billed as the nation’s original island hole, though it more resembles a peninsula.
Two of Chris Kirk’s drives were submerged; otherwise, he might have bettered his tie for fourth.
McIlroy retreated further with three straight bogeys, then birdied Nos. 15 through 17 to catch Furyk as runners-up.
“I am tired,” McIlroy said, echoing a theme heard repeatedly at East Lake. “It’s been a long four weeks. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have taken a week off somewhere in this stretch of tournaments.”
Furyk, 44, extended a pattern set after taking the 2010 Tour Championship: dancing around the winner’s circle without penetrating it. Bidding to become the Cup’s oldest titleholder, he completed another outstanding but empty year: no wins among 11 top-10 finishes in 21 events, with four second-place finishes.
He described Sunday’s as less frustrating than the previous three. “Billy was out ahead,” Furyk said, although he had trailed by just one stroke for a while before closing with two bogeys. “I was trying to chase him down all day.”
Horschel elected to doff his hat Sunday and wave it to a gallery that was appreciative, at least until Horschel, a former Florida player, performed an arm-waving Gator chomp in the heart of Georgia Bulldogs country.
Even with a stiff fine for reversing the cap, which he guessed might be considered conduct unbecoming a professional golfer, Horschel would have considerable savings left over for his expanding family. His wife, Brittany, is due to deliver their first child, a daughter, in two weeks. There was no indication from their home in north Florida that the mother-to-be’s celebration hastened that event.
The fashion gesture, he said, showed youngsters that golf could be fun without showing disrespect for the sport.
Another motivation was showing his face to viewers who might be unfamiliar with him, as he made his first splash on the tour last year.
Now, after a sensational finishing stretch of two victories and a tie for second at the last three tour stops, more facial recognition is assured.
“The year I had, I wasn’t sure this was going to happen, but I kept believing,” Horschel said. Without begging pardon for the pun, he added, “To cap it off like this has been pretty unbelievable.”
What's In Billy's' Bag?
Driver: Ping G30 (9 set to 10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 60X (tipped 1 inch)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing Weight: D4
3 Wood: Ping G25 (15 at 13.9 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Black 75-05 (tipped 1 inch)
Swing Weight: D2
5 Wood: Ping G25 (18 at 17.6 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Kiyoshi Black 75-05 (Tipped 1.5 Inches)
Swing Weight: D2
Irons: Ping S55 (3, 5-PW)
Color Code: Black [(3, 5 irons) standard] and Red [(6-PW) 0.75 degrees flat]
Shafts: Ping Z-Z65 / Cushin
Swing Weight: D1
Length: +1/4 Inch
Wedges: Ping Gorge (50, 56, and 60 Degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue
50 (Bent to 52) Degrees Loft, Standard Lie, and D3 Swing Weight
56 SS (Bent to 57) Degrees Loft, Standard Lie and D4 Swing Weight
60 SS (Bent to 61) Degrees Loft, Standard Lie and D4 Swing Weight
Putter: Ping TR B60
Length: 34 inches
Lie: 70 Degrees
Loft: 3.5 Degrees
Grip: SuperStroke Flatso Ultra
Swing weight: D5
Grips: Golf Pride V55 (Full Cord, Rib)
Diameter: .58 (+3 Wraps Right Hand and +2 Wraps Left Hand)
Ball: Titleist ProV1x + (2013)