Horschel criticizes USGA's course setup
June 21, 2015
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Billy Horschel addresses the media following his round Sunday at the U.S. Open. (Harry How/Getty Images)
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Reigning FedExCup champion Billy Horschel said he has been waiting for this moment all week. So when he stepped to the podium to speak to the media following his 3-under 67 in the final round of the U.S. Open, he did not hold back.
Having used his Twitter account this week to criticize the USGA’s setup of Chambers Bay, as well as the layout of a course he feels is unfriendly to golf fans, Horschel delivered an in-person rant on Sunday, using his post-round interview session as a bully pulpit to discuss this week’s venue.
To be clear, Horschel is not alone in his comments. Several players spoke out about the conditions of the course this week, and offered sympathy to the fans. But Horschel seemed to – wanted to? – lead the charge. And when Horschel is passionate about something, well, it’s hard to slow him down.
Among the 2,500 words he spoke included these highlights:
• The seventh and 13th greens were “really good,” and the 10th was “not bad.” Other than that, he said the greens took away the skills of a really good putter. “I understand Jordan (Spieth) is up by the leaderboard and he's making plenty of putts,” Horschel said. “But I'm a really good putter as well, and I have not had a great week on the greens. And it's not due to the fact that my stroke is off or my speed is off,.I've hit a lot of really good putts that have bounced all over the world. So it's just frustrating. I played awesome golf today. I played out my tail… to shoot 3-under par. And I really felt like I should have shot 6-, 7- or 8-under, but I wasn't able to due to the fact that some of the putts I hit just hit some really bad spots on the greens and got off line and didn't go in.”
• On the first green being dead. “1 is dead? I think it was dead on Tuesday,” Horschel said, eliciting some laughs. “Yeah, same thing with 4, too. I heard a comment that I thought was absolutely hilarious. A caddie said to -- or a TV anchor for FOX asked the caddie, How much grass? Is there any grass on No. 4 green? He said, Yeah, two blades, and they're nowhere close to each other.”
• More on the course. “The golf course isn't bad,” Horschel said. “Like I said, tee to green is very fair, very generous. But the surfaces aren't great. I think if they would do something about the putting surfaces, I think it would have been a better tournament. I don't think you would have heard us complain as much. I think you would see a lot more putts go in from distances, from 10 to 20 feet. You haven't seen a lot of those putts go in this week.”
• The viewing for the fans was “awful.” Said Horschel: “When you're not able to get up close and watch championship caliber players play a golf course, it's disappointing. And I feel like the fans got robbed this week being able to get up close to the players and see the shots we hit and see the course to the degree that we see it. … To say that they built this golf course for the U.S. Open is awful. … blows my mind even more that they would build a golf course and not think about the fans and the viewing aspect of it.”
• On how to solve the problems. “If you want to change something, make sure the putting surfaces are better. And make sure the fans have an easier way to walk around,” Horschel said. “When is the last time two caddies got hurt at a golf tournament, whether it be a championship or just a regular PGA TOUR event? … I haven't heard, but I'm sure there's plenty of fans that got hurt. My caddie fell on 18 yesterday walking off the backside of the green. If he would have hurt his knee or ankle, I would have been in someone's face with the USGA in a heartbeat. It's just not very spectator friendly. It's very tough for us to walk at the same time. Everyone has to be on their toes that they've got to be careful not to hurt themselves.”
• On USGA executive director Mike Davis pushing back against the complaints. “Mike Davis can push back as much as he wants, but when you have a majority of the players commenting publicly, and some of them aren't, because they don't want to get the pushback from it, then there's an issue,” Horschel said. “There's obviously an issue with these greens, and I don't know if he's just trying to sugarcoat it so it doesn't look bad. I heard someone say that the TV is making the greens look worse than they are. That's a complete lie.”
• He hopes that his complaints, as well as those of his fellow competitors, are not just written off as whining. “People out there think we complain a lot as players, and we don't,” Horschel said, “And when we do, I think we really need to be taken seriously on this. I think a lot of players, and I'm one of them, have lost some respect for the USGA and this championship this year for the greens.”