ATLANTA — Billy Horschel showed why he might be the hottest player in golf at the moment with another 4-under-par 66 on Friday in the Tour Championship.
It was his 10th straight round in the 60s. He already has a victory and a runner-up finish in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
And now he gets to take on the best player in golf.
Rory McIlroy rode three big putts and one bizarre break — a tee shot landed in a spectator’s pocket — on his way to a 65 that left him two shots behind and put him in the final group at East Lake going into the homestretch of the FedEx Cup.
At stake for both of them — along with Chris Kirk — is a shot at the $10 million bonus.
“I’m a guy that when I feel good about my game, I’ve got some confidence that I’m going to figure out some way to play well and post a number,” Horschel said.
That he has done.
The 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion is 35-under in his past 10 rounds. He was runner-up at the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago, when he squandered a shot to at least get into a playoff by chunking a 6-iron into a hazard. And he followed that with a victory in the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills.
And now he has a pair of 66s, putting him at 8-under 132 at East Lake.
McIlroy made his only bogey with a buried lie at the face of a bunker on No. 4, causing him to blast out sideways. He bounced back with birdies, and poured it on at the end of his round with a 12-foot par save, a 20-foot birdie and a 25-foot birdie.
And then there was his par on the 14th, which looked ordinary only on paper. His tee shot drifted right into the pine trees, clattered around and dropped straight down. No one knew where it went until a fan realized it had fallen into the front pocket of his shorts.
PGA Tour rules official Robby Ware made sure the fan had not moved, and McIlroy was given a free drop under Rule 19-1-a. Retrieving the ball? McIlroy wasn’t going there.
“I know how sweaty my pockets are. I’m not going into anyone else’s,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy was joined by Jason Day, who made bogey on his last hole for a 67; and Kirk, who made two bogeys on the back nine that offset a run of four straight birdies around the turn for a 68.
Former University High golfer Patrick Reed followed Thursday’s 67 with a 74; he’s at 1-over — nine strokes back.
LINCICOME’S 65 GIVES HER THE LEAD: In Evian-les-Bains, France, Brittany Lincicome had six birdies in a 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead from Hyo-Joo Kim at the halfway point of the Evian Championship.
The 28-year-old has won a major before — the Kraft Nabisco in 2009 — but clinched the last of her five LPGA titles in 2011 at the Canadian Women’s Open.
She finished second behind Inbee Park at this year’s LPGA Championship, when she also led after 36 holes.
Park is tied for 20th at 1-under and drifting out of contention for a sixth major.
European PGA Tour
LARRAZABAL BREAKS COURSE RECORD: In Zandvoort, Netherlands, Pablo Larrazabal broke the course record at Kennemer Golf & Country Club, shooting an eight under 62 to take the lead at the halfway stage of the KLM Open at 10-under.
The Spaniard got off to a blistering start, birdieing his first six holes, and did not drop a shot until a bogey on his 17th hole of the day, the par-3 eighth.
He followed with another birdie to break the Kennemer Golf & Country Club course record by a shot and go to 10-under after two rounds.
FATHAUER LEADS IN OHIO: In Columbus, Ohio, Derek Fathauer shot a 2-under 69 to take a three-stroke lead in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the third of four events in the Web.com Tour Finals.