Fiery Horschel thrives in first Presidents Cup match for USA
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina
Billy Horschel ran towards Max Homa on the 18th green and thumped his playing partner’s chest after Homa’s birdie putt gave the United States a one-stroke victory over the international team at the World Cup presidents and an 8-2 lead after day two. of game.
Then, as he walked away, Horschel privately raised his fist in the air, his own satisfying little celebration.
Horschel, 35, has always wanted to play for the United States in international competition, but never got the chance. So Friday was a dream come true for the fiery 2014 FedEx Cup champion.
He had never been so nervous before a game and said he felt like throwing up for around three hours before heading to the training ground.
“I had to keep people in check because I had (other golfers) telling me for 13 years that I was made for this,” Horschel said with a broad smile. “And I’m like, guys, easy, easy. I know I am, but you’re inflating me really big and I don’t want to deflate the ball too soon.”
Horschel established a reputation as an intense competitor in a team format in 2007 when he found himself under the skin of budding star Rory McIlroy at the Walker Cup.
Horschel hit a superb bunker shot in a four-way against McIlroy, then got overly excited and chased the ball, shouting, “Go for it! Go in!” Horschel’s team ended up winning the match, but he woke a young sleeping giant in McIlroy. In the singles match later that week, McIlroy responded with a loud shout directed at Horschel after having made an eagle putt on the first hole – and went on to win the match.
Horschel controlled his emotions for 15 holes Friday at Quail Hollow, except when his tee shot on the No. 9 barely missed the fairway and hit a random sprinkler head and sunk to death in some trees nearby, prompting a few choice words off the tee. box of the seven-time PGA Tour winner.
But he quickly collected himself and even sketched a smile as he walked down the fairway when a fan shouted at the hatless Horschel: “Good call for the hatless look, Billy – you’re an entertaining beauty!”
But as the match escalated and the international team fought back from a 2-hole deficit, Horschel burst with a big fist pump after netting a birdie putt on the No. 16 to halve the hole and keep the four-ball match even.
When Homa birdied at 17 to go up 1, then tied Taylor Pendrith’s birdie at 18, the emotions came out.
“It was really fun watching Billy,” Homa said. “To be able to walk those fairways with Billy, I know he’s a very driving guy, as they say. … Billy is a player. He’s a guy you want to play with. He is a competitor, and he clings to the possible. So I knew he was going to be in his environment.
U.S. captain Davis Love III sat Horschel for Thursday’s foursomes but couldn’t bear to do it again on Friday.
“I mean, can you imagine having conversations with Billy Horschel all week about, by the way, you’re not going to play Thursday, and having him wait another day to play?” Love said. “So look at his exuberance – he hung on well today, and Max made some great putts at the end.”
For Horschel, his first time in this type of setting as a professional could not have gone better.
He just hopes there will be more to come in the future.
“It’s great to be a part of this,” Horschel said. “It gives you a bit more energy in a team format because you’re playing with other guys and it’s great to be around those guys. I love those events.”
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