Story by Andy Zunz of Golfweek
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2015) — After Brandon Pierce set up a kick-in birdie on the par-five 18th, Sam Horsfield needed a heroic shot to repeat at the New Year's Invitational in regulation.
Horsfield, the No. 26 golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, delivered.
Faced with a 25-yard shot, Horsfield committed to a bump-and-run with his 8-iron. About three-quarters of the way to the hole, he said "Please hit the flag." The ball did just that, striking the pin with pace and falling in for eagle, saving a would-be 10-foot comebacker and winning the tournament.
"I launched my club up in the air and I don't remember anything else, to be honest with you," said Horsfield. "I had a pretty good read on it. It was uphill left to right, with pretty good break."
Horsfield closed with rounds of four-under 68 and three-under 69 on the weekend to finish the 72-hole tournament at 8-under 280. The University of Florida signee bogeyed three times on the front nine of St. Petersburg Country Club Sunday, but he played the back nine in four-under with two birdies and an eagle to earn his second straight New Year's Invitational title.
Horsfield entered the final round in a three-way tie for first at five-under with U.S. Amateur champion Gunn Yang and former North Carolina Tar Heel Michael McGowan. McGowan and Yang each shot rounds of even-par 72 on Sunday to fall back into a tie for third, giving Pierce the chance to move into second with a final-round 69.
Pierce, a sophomore at LSU, did not compete in a collegiate event this fall, but earned one top-10 in three events as a freshman last season.
Georgia Tech senior Drew Czuchry rounded out the top five with Chris Selfridge at three-under. Other notables in the field include former Stanford golfer Jim Liu (two-under 286), South Florida senior Joseph Winslow (three-over 291), and Florida commit Kyler Tate (four-over 292).