Billy Horschel showed a couple of things Sunday when he picked up the second PGA Tour title of his career. He’s learning how to win and he certainly can deal with disappointment.
Coming off a stretch that included a rough finish at the Barclays and his missing out on the Ryder Cup team, Horschel carded a 1-under-par 69 at Cherry Hills Country Club to win the BMW Championship, the third leg of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoff.
Horschel finished at 14-under 266 to claim a two-shot victory over Masters champion Bubba Watson. Horschel entered the day with a three-shot lead, saw it evaporate and then bounced back to put himself squarely in contention for the playoff’s $10 million first prize.
“It’s great to win this championship,” Horschel said. “I think this win means a lot more just because I didn’t have — I wasn’t, I didn’t have my great stuff, and I was able to grind something out and get a victory at the end of the day.”
A week ago at TPC Boston, Horschel had a 6-iron in his hands from the fairway and a chance to tie and possibly beat Chris Kirk. Instead he chunked his approach into a green side gorge and had to live the the blown opportunity and questions about his ability to close and come through in the clutch. Fast forward a week and it was a different story, Horschel hit a 9-iron safely on the green for a routine two-putt to lock up his second career victory and a $1.44 million first prize.
Only Horschel knows for sure how much he was thinking about his finish in Boston, if at all. But the feisty former Florida Gator did not let on that he had any self doubt and he was able to hold on with Watson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia all lurking on Sunday.
“Now when you look back at it it’s awesome. But, I didn’t even think about it when I won. That never crossed my mind. I’m still not thinking about it,” Horschel said about his winning a week after his finish in Boston. “I guess you say it’s redemption, but I was coming from behind. I had a one stroke deficit on 18, and I had to hit a good shot and unfortunately, I didn’t.”
While Horschel may not have been dwelling on the missed opportunity in Boston, he was certainly motivated by it and the backlash he received afterward. Twitter brings out all kinds and there were plenty of users ready to pounce on Horschel for his mis-hit into 18. They may have gotten in a harsh word or two, but all they seemed to ultimately do was motivate Horschel even more in the end.
“I think what I’m more proud about is the way people on Twitter and social media like to comment on that and say that I choked and you’re no good, all this,” Horschel said. “That doesn’t affect me, but I just like to stick it to them and it was nice to get that victory and stick it to some of those people that had some negative comments for me on Twitter, and I don’t mind it. You want to keep saying negative things to me that just adds fuel to my fire, and I’m just going to stick it to you every time.”
If only Horschel was able to start rounding into form a little sooner he might be looking ahead at even more than a chance to win the FedEx Cup. When play ends at East Lake Country Club this Sunday, someone will all off with $10 million and then the golf world’s attention will turn to the Ryder Cup. Horschel won’t be headed to Gleneagles with the American team and while it may be something to motivate him next season and beyond, he doesn’t blame anyone else.
“I’m sure Tom Watson is — he’s not kicking himself for not picking me, I can guarantee you that. I’m sure he’s going to kick me because I didn’t play better sooner,” Horschel said. “I’m sure he would have loved for me to play like this a couple months ago. But, the only person you can blame is myself. I didn’t play well enough. I’m not disappointed I didn’t get picked. I didn’t earn a pick. If I would have got picked, it would have been sort of feel like man, I didn’t deserve this, I didn’t — I shouldn’t be on this team. But there’s no big deal. The U.S. team’s very strong. They’re going to do very well over there in Scotland and listen, there’s still plenty of more Ryder Cups in my future. I’m not going to dwell on not getting picked on this one.”
While philosophical about missing out on the Ryder Cup, Horshcel is ready to move on and take a crack at the big money this week at the Tour Championship. At No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings, Horschel controls his own destiny and can win the title with a win at East Lake.
“I like my chances. I would be, if I was a betting man, I would put some money on me,” he said.