By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
BETHESDA, Md. -- Billy Horschel was well inside the ropes, but could still hear the gallery’s chant quite easily.
“Hey Octopus Man, where’s your pants?”
That’s been Horschel’s mantra ever since wearing a pair of trousers decorated with octopi during the final round of the U.S. Open.
Horschel and the pants have become an Internet sensation.
Polo clothing officials had asked Horschel if he would wear the unique trousers two weeks before the U.S. Open and he agreed to have some fun.
When Horschel played well and the pants got exposure, his fate was guaranteed.
Polo immediately sold out of the pattern and all requests are now back ordered.
Horschel may be enjoying temporary fame for his clothing choice but his PGA TOUR presence will have a much longer shelf life.
He won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April and is ranked fifth in FedExCup points. Those numbers are reflected statistically. Horschel is second in par breakers and second in birdie average, making 4.2 per round. He is fifth in FedEx Cup points and ranks sixth on the money list at $2,998,128.
He can buy and wear any pants he wants with that bankroll.
Horschel looked to improve his game last week by working on his putting. Even though he ranks 17th in strokes gained-putting, he wasn’t happy with his path. Horschel was taking the putter a little too far inside and was unable to release the head at impact. He says practice sessions have solved the path problem and is looking forward to competition this week.
And what about the octopus pants?
They haven’t been cleaned since Sunday at Merion and reside on the floor of Horschel’s closet.
It may be awhile before the octopi resurface.
Tough track: Congressional Country Club's Blue Course is one of the more difficult venues of the season. In 2012, it ranked as the hardest non-major course on TOUR, playing to a stroke average of 73.05. This week promises more of the same. The fairways are lush, which means little run and long approaches into greens. The rough is just short of U.S. Open length. When you combine heat, humidity and the likely chance of rain, this tournament will be very challenging.
Stay away: Pay attention to the 16th hole as players come down the stretch. It’s a 579-yard par 5 that is reachable in two but is heavily bunkered in front of the green. That tempts the inexperienced player to think long is better than short and that is a huge mistake. The rough behind the 16th green has been shaved and a ball that releases through the putting surface will trundle away, creating a very difficult up and down save.
Adjustment: Brandt Snedeker led the TOUR in strokes gained-putting in 2012 but is a puzzling 22nd this season. Even with a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Snedeker was still not happy with his putting. This week he is employing a new grip. He has strengthened his hands on the club and hopes that will help to both square and release the clubhead.
Storm tracker: Who can forget “Silent Saturday” last year when Congressional suffered severe storm damage on Friday night? The course was closed to the public for the third round and it took a massive miraculous cleanup to become playable. That storm took out hundreds of trees but Congressional is so heavily forested, it did little to change the nature of the course. One tree, on the 14th fairway, had to be replaced and a group of trees were planted at the fourth to preserve the integrity of the dogleg.
Winner,winner: The No. 1 secret to winning on the PGA TOUR is to give yourself plenty of chances. That’s what Jason Day has done. He has five Top 10 finishes in 13 events with no wins. Jason gets the bounces this week and claims his second PGA TOUR title.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.