Although Billy Horschel overpowered all comers to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, several players found positive takeaways for their games – from runner-up D.A. Points to Monday qualifier Ken Looper to 2009 U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover and beyond.
Here are 5 Things to Know about the Zurich Classic – beyond Horschel’s win.
• • •
1. Points Proud Of His Finish: On the final hole, D.A. Points picked the ball cleanly off the sand from the front greenside bunker and splashed to within 5 feet to apply the pressure on Billy Horschel.
But when the winning putt dropped in the hole for Horschel, Points was the first one to applaud. It was a classy move after a long day of competing head-to-head. Earlier in the month, the roles were reversed and Points had poured in a winning putt at the Shell Houston Open to beat Horschel by one stroke.
If Points felt disappointment after shooting a 7-under 65 to finish second at 19-under, he masked it well.
“I played rock solid and had a real good run there,” he said. “No question, 7-under, no bogeys. I’ll take that every day for the rest of my life, and I’ll come out on top more often than not.”
Points has credited Lamar University golf coach, Brian White, for his hot putter during his recent run of success. They worked together for the first time in Houston and then again earlier this week. Points said White helped him make a few minor adjustments.
“My right hip was getting a little high at address,” he explained. “And also, when I was trying to take the putter back, I was doing a little too much with my hands and my wrists as opposed to still picking it up and trying to do a little bit more with my arms.”
Who can complain about a first and second place finish? Not Points, who also finished second in the Tour’s strokes-gain putting stat this week. When asked if White’s on the payroll yet, Points replied, “Oh yeah.”
Points heads to the Wells Fargo Championship, where he lost in a playoff a year ago, riding a wave of momentum. He also took another step in the right direction to achieve one of his goals this season: to play in the season-ending Tour Championship for the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings.
“I’ve still got work to do,” he said. “Hopefully this is one step closer.”
• • •
2. Glover’s Birdie Binge Goes Bust On Sunday: Lucas Glover, the 36- and 54-hole leader, accepted the blame. He had made 17 birdies during the first two rounds, but only seven over the final two days. He carded a 1-under 71 Sunday for a total of 15-under and a T-4 finish.
“Only 3 under on the weekend isn’t going to do it when there are birdies flying like they were this week,” he said.
To make matters worse, Glover didn’t make a birdie until the 10th hole Sunday.
“I didn’t do myself any favors early when we were playing,” he said. “I just didn’t hit it close enough to make any birdies.”
Glover still held a one-stroke lead when play was suspended for the first time while he was playing the sixth hole. That’s when he made a costly error at the par-5 7th hole. Glover’s third shot was meant to be a low-spinning pitch from 70 yards, but it landed on the back of the green and bounded over the green.
“Just landed it 5 yards too long,” he said.
He chipped to 13 feet, missed his par putt, and his lead evaporated. He never regained it.
Still, Glover departed encouraged with the state of his game, especially his putting. He switched to a TaylorMade Ghost Spider blade putter and had his first tournament without a 3-putt since the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship.
“So lot of positives,” he said, “and I’ll go on to the next week to see what happens.”
• • •
3. Stanley Gains Confidence: Kyle Stanley didn’t win, but he left with the next best thing to a trophy: a surge of confidence in his game. Stanley backed up a 65 Saturday that got him into the final group with a bogey-free 67 on Sunday.
“It felt great,” he said. “It’s been a while and I put a ton of pressure on myself.”
Stanley, who finished alone in third at 17-under, recorded his first top-10 finish in 33 events since he won the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open. He called his performance a sign he has turned the corner.
“It means I’m working on the right things,” he said.
That includes spending time with instructor Ralph Bauer on his putting this week. Stanley ranked 32nd this week (-0.006) in stroke-gained putting, an improvement over his season-long rank of 184th.
“The good thing was he told me my stroke looked perfect,” Stanley said. “So we worked mostly on visualization and how I read putts.”
• • •
4. Looper’s Super Week: Ken Looper was the least ballyhooed of the three LSU Tigers in the field behind former PGA champion David Toms and Masters qualifier John Peterson, who was granted a sponsor’s invite, but he provided his share of fireworks.
First, Looper had to qualify Monday, firing a 62 at LaTour Golf Club. He would make his Tour debut not far from home.
“I always said I wanted to make my PGA Tour debut at this golf tournament,” said Looper, a Mandeville, La. native.
Perhaps no one knew the course better than Looper, 24. He played it countless times as his home course during three seasons at University of New Orleans and won the UNO Mardi Gras Invitational at TPC Louisiana before transferring to LSU for his senior year when UNO elected to move to Division III.
Looper opened with a 73, then rallied with a 66 to make the cut. A chip-in eagle at the 18th was the exclamation point on a round of 67 Saturday. What did he do next? Looper took advantage of free passes given to all players and visited the Aquarium of the Americas. He hadn’t been since childhood.
Looper has been swimming upstream all year. He won twice on the NGA Tour in 2012, but had pocketed a grand total of $2,490 on the NGA Tour this season. It would be hard to blame him if dollar signs began floating in his head during the final round’s first rain delay. Looper holed a 22-foot eagle putt on the par 5 2nd hole to close within two shots of the lead. He told Peterson, “If I win, I’m going to move out of my mother’s house finally.”
But Looper failed to make another birdie after the delay. He arrived at the 72nd hole needing a birdie to finish in the top-10 and earn a spot in next week’s Wells Fargo Championship. It looked bleak when he blocked his tee shot into the water. But he found the fairway with his third shot and took dead aim with his approach from 244 yards for birdie.
“I mean, what do I have to lose?” he said. “I needed to make it, and I almost did.”
The ball grazed the hole and stopped 8 feet away. Then he had to wait for the second suspension of play to attempt his par putt that turned out to be worth $43,560. Eventually he missed and finished T-21. He made $58,740.
Instead of heading off to Charlotte, Looper had a short ride home to sleep in his own bed, and a tee time waiting for him on the NGA Tour.
“Hopefully I can get another opportunity to show that I can compete in a future event,” he said.
• • •
5. Short Shots: Tianlang Guan closed with a 74 and finished 71st. . . . Pete Dye built a fierce bunch of par 3s at TPC Louisiana. This week among the Zurich Classic’s hardest holes, they ranked as the 5th, 3rd, 8th & 4th respectively. . . . Doug LaBelle finished first for the week in the Tour’s strokes-gained putting statistic. . . . A 65 in the final round propelled Bobby Gates to a career-best T-4. . . . Defending champion Jason Dufner finished T-42. . . . Boo Weekley recorded his third top-10 finish of the year. . . . John Peterson’s T-8 finish earned him a berth in the Wells Fargo Championship. Peterson had been headed to Georgia to compete in the Web.com Tour event there, but re-routed to Charlotte.