By D.J. Piehowski, PGATOUR.COM
Billy Horschel spends a lot of time hitting balls on the range. Usually not at night, however.
Horschel, winner of this year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, was at TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday evening, shooting (in the dark) his part in one of the PGA TOUR's upcoming TV spots.
"We should make it look like that scene in 'The Legend of Bagger Vance,'" Horschel said excitedly as crews arranged lighting and camera around the TPC Sawgrass range. "The one where Matt Damon is hitting balls in the dark. That's what this feels like."
We won't spoil the theme of the new ads, but you can expect to see a "rough cut" online by the end of the year.
With play underway in Thursday's first round of the Frys.com Open, fantasy lineups have now been set for PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy game. Here are the top 10 most selected players by our fantasy gamers this week, along with their percentage of selection.
If you haven't signed up for the fantasy game, it's not too late. You'll be able to pick your team starting next week. Click here for our fantasy home page.
|Rank||Player||Percentage of selection|
|5||Charles Howell III||28.43%|
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Things feel a little different for everyone at the Frys.com Open. This is, after all, the first time the Frys.com has served as the first event of the PGA TOUR season. The 2013-14 season – the TOUR’s first “wraparound” schedule – begins Thursday.
But the new calendar configuration is hardly the only thing new for Horschel. He had to go to Q-School in each of his first four seasons as a pro. He had to spend the fall worrying about his TOUR card. No more. Horschel won his first TOUR title at this year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans and qualified for his first TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
The biggest thing Horschel has to learn given his new success? How to rest.
"It's a learning process, and what I learned the best is that if I play four events out of six, if I come home for two or three weeks, I need to literally just get away from the game and not touch a club for five or six days, which is tough because I feel like I'm losing something," Horschel said. "It's more a mental thing than a physical thing, taking my mind off of it and not worrying about the swing or this or that. Just getting my mind away from the game of golf."
He had four consecutive top-10 finishes – including his win and two other top-3s – in March and April. He also finished fourth at the U.S. Open. His next top-10 didn’t come until a T-7 at the TOUR Championship, though. Horschel said burnout was the culprit for his poor play.
"I just didn't play well," he said. "I got a little burnt out, a little more tired, a little more emotional on the golf course than I wanted to be."
Horschel has had past success at the Frys.com Open. He tied for seventh in 2011 and was in second place halfway through last year’s event before fading to 29th with scores of 73-71 on the weekend.
He'll tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday with fellow TOUR Championship participant Gary Woodland and defending Frys.com Open champion Jonas Blixt.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Billy Horschel looked at the FedExCup scenarios on Thursday morning before he teed off in his first TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
"I saw that I needed to win, and I saw about seven or eight other things in there that needed to go my way," he said with a slight shrug of his shoulders. "... I stopped reading at that point."
Winning the $10 million bonus might be complicated but it's hardly out of the question. Bill Haas proved that two years ago when he came in ranked 25th -- Horschel is 22nd -- and grabbed the dual victories at the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship.
"If it happens to get in my pocket on Sunday night, it will be a great thing, but I'm just worried about trying to play good golf, trying to get better, and I feel like, if I just focus on those two things, then winning and possibly winning the FedExCup just falls into place," Horschel said.
Horschel is certainly keeping up his end of the bargain after shooting a 66 that left him two strokes off Henrik Stenson's lead. The Floridian, who picked up his first PGA TOUR win earlier this year, was particularly solid tee to green, hitting nine fairways and all but one green in regulation.
Not bad for a guy who played his first nine holes at Bobby Jones' home course on Tuesday. Horschel has watched the TOUR Championship on TV many times, though, and he's proven to be a quick study as he shot his third 66 in his last seven rounds.
"I've talked to some of the guys that have been here plenty of times and my teacher Todd Anderson," Horschel said. "I just knew it's a ball striker's golf course. The fairways are generous, you know, you don't want to miss them. Especially the back side, there's some tough tee shots. I feel like it fits my game. I can control my golf ball very well. I was able to make some putts.
"I left some out there. Honestly, in my mind, I shoot 4 under (but) I think I could have shot possibly 7 easily."
ATLANTA -- Billy Horschel's first TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola couldn't have gotten off to much better of a start.
The 26-year-old made five birdies and just one bogey Thursday at East Lake, where he opened with a 66 for the early clubhouse lead.
Horschel hit every green in regulation but one -- the par-4 seventh -- and it was his third 66 in his last eight rounds, including at last week's BMW Championship, where he tied for 18th.
The last player to win here in his first trip to East Lake was Bill Haas in 2011. He also won the FedExCup that year.
Horschel would need a number of scenarios to play out for him to win the FedExCup but is in good position so far.
In the final round of the 2013 BMW Championship, Billy Horschel sinks a 47-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th hole to cap his round of 66. He'll play in his first TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola next week.
Billy Horschel, who enters the FedExCup Playoffs at No. 6 in the standings, will be answering fan questions live in a Google+ Hangout today at 1:05 p.m. ET from Liberty National. If you have a question for Horschel, leave it in the comments below and tune in to the live video chat for the answers.
To see all of our Hangouts with PGA TOUR Players, fans and media, click here.
Tee times are out for the first two rounds of the RBC Canadian Open, where Scott Piercy is trying to become just the second player in the history of golf's third-oldest tournament to successfully defend his title. The only other player to do it was Jim Furyk, who went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Here's a closer look at the group and other notable groups to watch the first two rounds (all times ET):
Scott Piercy, Ernie Els, Luke Donald: Piercy won this tournament a year ago and also played well in 2011, finishing sixth. Els, meanwhile, has had four finishes in the top six in his last eight starts worldwide. Donald finished third in the event in 2010. They'll tee off at 12:45 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Woody Austin, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk: Austin is coming off his first victory in six years and another strong performance could get him into the FedExCup Playoffs picture. McDowell, who won the RBC Heritage earlier this season, is playing this RBC event for the first time. They'll tee off at 12:55 p.m. Thursday and 7:40 a.m. Friday.
Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson: Kuchar has a half-dozen top 10s this year, including two wins. He also finished fourth in this tournament in 2010. Snedeker enters the week off three straight finishes in the top 20 and he finished fifth the last time this event was played at Glen Abbey. They'll tee off at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan: It has been a breakout season for Horschel, who has seven top 10s, including a first, second and third. He's cooled of late, however, with no finishes in the top 30 in his last three starts. Mahan, who was in the final pairing on Sunday at Muirfield, finished fourth here in 2004. They'll tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday and 12:55 p.m. Friday.
Jimmy Walker will make his first British Open start later this month. (Getty Images/Trotman)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Jimmy Walker’s 71 on Sunday at The Greenbrier Classic left him two shots short of his first PGA TOUR victory, but his runner-up finish was enough for him to earn another prize.
Walker was one of five players to earn an exemption into the British Open via the FedExCup standings after The Greenbrier Classic. Billy Horschel, Boo Weekley, Russell Henley and Harris English also earned their way to Scotland's Muirfield on July 18-21 by being among the top five in the FedExCup standings who were not yet exempt for the British Open. They also had to be among the top 20 in the FedExCup standings to be eligible for the exemption.
Walker’s good play at the Greenbrier moved him from 24th to 17th in the FedExCup. At the start of the week, seven players not yet exempt for the British Open were ahead of him in the FedExCup standings. Charles Howell III, who missed The Walker will be making his first British Open appearance and his first start in a major since last year’s PGA Championship.
“I hear Muirfield is pretty awesome, so I'm excited,” Walker said. “I'll get ready.”
Horschel and Henley also will be making their British Open debuts. Harris English played his first British Open last year, finishing 54th. Weekley has played three British Opens, but none since 2009, when he finished a career-best 13th. Henley and English were teammates at the University of Georgia and on the 2011 Walker Cup team, which lost to Great Britain & Ireland at Scotland's Royal Aberdeen.
Five European Tour players – Richard Sterne, Brett Rumford, Mikko Ilonen, Thomas Bjorn and Marc Warren – qualified for the British Open via the most recent Race to Dubai standings.
Eight players also were added to the field based on the Official World Golf Ranking. The OWGR is used, if necessary, to fill the 156-player field. Greenbrier winner Jonas Blixt, Martin Laird, Fredrik Jacobson, Graham DeLaet, Kyle Stanley, Chris Wood and Ken Duke were added to the field Monday, as was Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, who got in as the first alternate after John Daly withdrew.
The winners of this week’s John Deere Classic and Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open also will earn British Open exemptions if not already in the field.
Billy Horschel is looking to lock up his first British Open berth. (Getty Images/Patrick McDermott)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
This week’s tournament in West Virginia is one of the final opportunities for PGA TOUR players to earn a trip to Scotland. At week's end, the top five players in the FedExCup who are not yet exempt for the British Open will earn spots in the year’s third major, as long as they also rank in the top 20 of the FedExCup standings.
Billy Horschel leads the pack of players at this week’s The Greenbrier Classic vying for tee times at Muirfield in two weeks. Horschel, who won this year’s Zurich Classic and finished fourth at the U.S. Open, is No. 5 in the FedExCup standings. It’s undetermined how Horschel’s octopus pants may be received in Scotland.
Boo Weekley, at No. 9 in the FedExCup standings, is second in line to receive a British Open exemption; Russell Henley (16th in the FedExCup), his former Georgia teammate Harris English (17) and Charles Howell III (18) round out the top five players in the FedExCup standings who are not yet exempt for the British Open, which will be held July 18-21. English is the only one not in The Greenbrier Classic.
The winner of next week’s John Deere Classic, if not already exempt for the championship, also earns a British Open spot. Here’s a look at players seeking British Open spots this week, listed by their FedExCup ranking (FedExCup points in parentheses):
5. Billy Horschel (1,422)
9. Boo Weekley (1,154)
16. Russell Henley (968)
17. Harris English (958)
18. Charles Howell III (940)
21. Ken Duke (861)
23. Graham DeLaet (818)
24. Jimmy Walker (812)
27. Scott Stallings (756)
30. Ryan Palmer (736)
Note: All but Harris English in The Greenbrier Classic field.