Horschel seeking 2014 magic

After Billy Horschel took control of the PGA Tour playoffs and walked off with the FedEx Cup last year, the expectations for him in 2015 went through the roof.

There probably was no way he could have completely lived up to hopes, but Horschel has struggled a bit this year. He has only two top-10 finishes, although he has not been far off, finishing in the top 25 seven times.

And actually, that is better off than he was last year at this time as he heads into the Travelers Championship this week at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

“My game is feeling good,” said Horschel, who tied for second in the Deutsche Bank Championship before winning the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in his torrid run last September. “I’ve been feeling good with everything we’ve been doing the last couple months. Finally the results have sort of started showing up. …

“My game is in pretty good shape. Started playing well about six weeks ago and took three weeks off after Players, and I came back at Memorial and played well, just missed out on a top 10, unfortunately, but I love where my game is at. I’ve got some good confidence in me right now.”

What kept Horschel from performing the way he did down the stretch is no surprise when you look at his numbers.

The former Florida All-American ranks in the top 20 on the PGA Tour in ball-striking and in total driving, a combination of length and accuracy, and also in greens in regulation at nearly 70 percent.

Horschel putted lights-out in the last three events of the 2014-15 season, but before last week, he was outside the top 150 in putts per round this season at 29.52.

However, he believes his stroke is coming around.

“It’s coming back to similar to what we did at Deutsche Bank,” said Horschel, who will try to improve on his best finish in two starts in the Travelers, a tie for 24th in 2012. “We made a putting, a grip change at Deutsche Bank, and we focused a lot on speed, making sure we didn’t hit the putt too hard, because I feel like on a regular basis I start my putt on my line and I read the putt well, I just hit it too hard. …

“We got back into focusing on the speed of the putt and not hitting them 3 or 4 feet by the hole, so that’s been helping out a lot. I feel real confident on Bermuda greens, I always have. I feel like my putting has been turning around. It’s not like I’m putting bad. … I just haven’t made what I think is my fair share of them.”

The same issue arose last week, too. Horschel was one of the most vocal players in criticizing the condition of the greens in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, even though he closed with a 3-under-par 67 to finish in a tie for 25th.

Horschel’s best result this year was third in the Valero Texas Open. He also tied for eighth in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but his best golf might have come in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. After trouncing Brandt Snedeker, 5 and 4, and beating Jason Dufner, 3 and 2, he seemed to be on his way to the round of 16 when he held a 2-up lead over world No. 1 Rory McIlroy through 16 holes.

However, McIlroy took the last two holes in regulation with birdies and won the match on his way to the title when Horschel bogeyed the 20th hole.

“After I made a great birdie at No. 16, go to 17 tee and I hit a really good shot in there 20 feet, just right of the hole, put the pressure on him,” Horschel said. “He hadn’t been making anything all day. I knew he was due to make something. He made that putt. We go to 18, I hit a 3-iron that I thought was perfect. It flew a lot farther than I thought. He two-putted. It was a great match. Take the best player in the world right now to 20 holes, it’s just unfortunate because I didn’t play bad at all.

“I said to him after he beat me, ‘Go on and win this. Make me feel better that beating me was something good.’ … I feel like if I would have got by that match, I think I should have been the one winning that tournament.”

If you couldn’t tell, Horschel is a confident guy.

While there might be people who believe his winning the FedEx Cup might have been a fluke, he claims he almost expected to win.

“Nope, doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Horschel, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. “Probably surprised a lot of other people what I did those three weeks, but I know how talented I am. …

“Everyone around me, they know how talented I am and how good I can be, and that was sort of a showing little bit of what can possibly be done in my career, you know, if I just believe in myself a little bit more and probably be a little bit less hard on myself.”

Not to mention that his FedEx performance showed he can deliver.

–Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles