LEWISTON -- Just when Billy Horschel seemed ready to claim second place in the Porter Cup golf tournament, things went south for the Floridian.
After pulling within five strokes of leader Brian Harman's staggering score of 21 under, Horschel hit the 17th hole -- actually, he let the 17th hole hit him, hard.
Ripping his first tee shot far right and out of bounds on the narrow 462-yarder, Horschel teed up again for his third stroke. He watched his second tee shot also leave the golf course. Horschel finally got off the tee with his fifth stroke on the par-4, and after four more shots he found himself taking a 9 on the hole. It pushed him all the way back to 11-under par.
"You know, I made two awful swings and I just hit way out in front of it," Horschel said. "It kills me, but I told Harman I was making birdie on the last hole."
Ranked No. 6 in the world on the amateur circuit, Horschel did just that. His birdie on the 189-yard par-3 moved him into a tie for third, with Jason Kokrak, at 12 under -- 10 strokes behind Harman's final 22-under par. Chris Kirk finished second at 13 under.
East Amherst's Justin Regier rebounded with a 67 to finish tied for fifth with Jon Curran at 11 under.
"I hit a good iron shot and I told myself I need to make birdie, just for myself, and hit it up there close," Horschel said. "I walked up there and Harman and I just started talking and I'm like, 'You know I'm making this, you know I'm making this,' and he's like 'Yeah, I know.' "
Horschel had matched Harman stroke for stroke for the first 16 holes of the final round, and then rooted him on to the championship for the final two.
Friends since their freshman year of college, Horschel attends the University of Florida while Harman is at the University of Georgia. The pair obviously has a healthy competition going as well as a close friendship.
"I didn't even know him in junior golf. He was a big shot and I was a small shot but we met in college," Horschel said of the friendship. "But I'm very happy that he won because I want him on the Walker Cup team."
"We're always rooting for each other," Harman said. "We like to see each other play well but between the ropes we're trying to beat each other. It broke my heart on 17 to see him hit those two balls out of bounds."
For the leaders, the seventh tee was quite a circus. Waiting for the previous group to finish, Harman put on a Tiger Woods-esque show for the fans displaying his ball-juggling skills while Horschel acted as manager and invited fans to the "Amazing Brian Harman Show." Horschel said, "He never misses," as Harman took a baseball-like swing at his tee and ripped it into the fairway to the delight of the gallery.
While the two leaders seemed relaxed and at ease, the third member of the group, Lucas Lee, stood sweating out the wait. Turns out, he may have sweated a little too long. Lee sent his drive way right and out of bounds on the par-3 on his way to a quadruple-bogey 7.
"I have really sweaty palms," Lee said. "I usually carry like five gloves or more and I just felt a little wet, more than usual, and I was just too lazy to change it and the club just slipped out of my hand and I shanked it."
Tripp Davis, a mid-amateur from Norman, Okla., had to withdraw from the final round on the third hole. The 39-year-old was suffering from heat exhaustion. Tournament Chairman P.J. Alterio said later that Davis was recovering well.
There was an apparent first in Porter Cup history on Saturday as the third hole was visited by a rabid skunk. Animal control was called and for a $180 fee, the skunk was taken away.
"We had a rabid skunk on the golf course, I've never heard of that before," Alterio said.
The Porter Cup has become quite international in its 49 years of existence. Five countries were represented in the field, and the Porter Cup Web site had been viewed in 23 countries through Friday evening.