Hard work, perseverance serve Billy Horschel at Memorial

Hard work, perseverance serve Billy Horschel at Memorial

DUBLIN, Ohio — Billy Horschel won’t blame you if all you remember from his win at the Memorial Tournament Presented by Workday on Sunday is his eagle on the 15th hole. His nearly 55-foot putt, curling right to left, was a splendid shot and extended his two-stroke lead to four, the final margin as Horschel (72) beat Aaron Wise (71).

But while the eagle stands out, shiny things don’t excite Horschel, who is more obsessed with peak performance and what’s in it. He wants to understand success like a cheetah understands speed. What works? What’s not working? He thinks about that when it comes to real estate, business — he doesn’t want to play professionally forever — and, for now, golf. On a list of the PGA TOUR’s hardest workers, he ranks in the top five.

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That hard work is paying off, and in capturing his seventh TOUR title on a cast of young players – Wise, 25; Joaquin Niemann, 23; Will Zalatoris, 25; Sungjae Im, 24 years old; Sahith Theegala, 24 – Horschel, 35, is also the author of a victory for professionalism itself.

“I think today, knowing the golf course, knowing how fast and firm it was going to be again, was knowing the pin locations,” Horschel said. “I didn’t have to do anything special there. I have a five-shot lead.

In other words, Horschel is 13 years into his TOUR career; he knows what it takes. When Tiger Woods converted all those 54-hole leads/co-leads, Horschel was paying attention. He was able to appreciate the difficulty of the course, the rock-hard greens, the pin positions. “I love watching golf,” he said. “As I’ve said for many years, I’ve probably watched more golf than any player on the PGA TOUR. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s a bad thing.

Considering he’s now 3-for-5 to convert 54-hole leads/co-leads to a win, that’s probably a good thing.

Horschel hasn’t just studied the game, he’s assembled an all-star cast around him that includes his (longtime) swing coach, Todd Anderson; fitness guy Alex Bennett at the TPC Performance Center; the stats guy, Mark Horton; and caddy, Mark “Fooch” Fulcher, who was on the bag for Justin Rose’s 2010 memorial victory and joined the Horschel team last summer.

Horschel’s wife Brittany is also on his side, although she has never been there to witness any of his wins until Sunday. She has been too busy with their three young children, Skylar, Colbie and Axel. She’s also, uh, superstitious.

“My wife never wanted to fly out on a Saturday night when I had a chance to win,” Horschel said, laughing at the running joke in their family. “She feels like she can bring bad luck or something.

“I was lucky to win Bay Hill this year,” he continued. “My family was there. They were right there on the 18th green. As I was going up I was lucky enough to make a putt to make the playoffs with Scottie Scheffler.

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