An Unexpected Victory for Billy Horschel

Posted by: mike May 23rd, 2017

By James McAfee

 

Coming into the AT&T Byron Nelson, Billy Horschel didn’t seem likely to end up as the winner. He had missed the cut in his last four events and had missed the cut in his only two previous trips to Irving to play the TPC Four Seasons course.

However, he led the field in strokes saved putting and ended up with the title when Jason Day missed a four-footer on the first playoff hole after the pair had tied at minus 12.

“I don’t like winning like that,” Horschel said about Day’s three putt. “It’s really surreal. This is probably the most emotional, most ... I’m sort of speechless because the other three wins I’ve had in my career have come off of really good playing. Come in here with missing four straight cuts, not having of any type of momentum. … [But] come in here and felt at peace.”

It was Horschel’s first win since he closed the 2014 FedEx Cup with a second and two victories to take home the $10 million bonus.Billy Horschel

Horschel did admit that he felt he found something the previous week at the Players, slowing his swing tempo, that gave him hope. He also got some words of encouragement from caddy Josh Cassel, who told him, “we’re going to go next week to Dallas, to the Byron Nelson and we’re going to win.”

The Nelson moves to the new Trinity Forest, a Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore design, next year.

Jordan Spieth, who missed the cut at the final Nelson when he hit two balls out of bounds on the 16th and took a 9 in the second round, is a member at the course. “It’s a second-shot course where you got to really think about where you leaving the ball because everything looks so spacious, there’s no trees.”

One of the players sad to see the event move from the Four Seasons was Sergio Garcia, who won the title twice and started his pro career there

Horschel, one of golf’s streakiest players, is used to burning up scorecards, like he did in 2014 when he closed the FedEx Cup playoffs with a second and two victories to win the season title. The fact that he hadn’t won since that year’s Tour Championship underscores the nature of tournament golf in the post-Tiger Woods, parity-driven era and Horschel’s own penchant for either fire or ice. To wit, he hasn’t been back to the Tour Championship since winning, and he had fallen far enough down the World Rankings, 76th, to miss this year’s Masters.

And until his sudden-death playoff win over Day in the last go-around at TPC Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, Horschel had missed the cut in his previous four starts. But The victory was the fourth of Horschel’s career and elevated him from his current place in the Official World Golf Ranking to 44th, well inside the top-60 position he needs to be in two weeks to earn an exemption into the U.S. Open at Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin.

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James McAfee is currently the editor of the Knox County News-Courier in Texas. His articles also available at www.theaposition.com. Former editor with Golf Digest and numerous newspapers in Texas and a golf administrator for more than 20 years with the Northern Texas PGA and the Dallas District Golf Association.