Horschel leads the field in greens in regulation through two rounds at Merion. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Two years ago, Billy Horschel lost it.
In contention in the final round of The McGladrey Classic, Horschel's game imploded and he in turn exploded, throwing clubs and letting loose a string of expletives that among other things earned him a talking to from his coach and left Horschel embarrassed.
Last year, Horschel began working with Fran Pirozzolo, a sports psychologist with a Ph.D. in neuropsychology, and began practicing meditation and breathing exercises.
Fast forward to Friday's second round of the U.S. Open and Merion Golf Club, an increasingly difficult track tough enough to test the patience of all 156 players in the field.
"I've acquired some patience," Horschel said. "I just think that the older I get, the more mature I get on the golf course."
And the better he gets, too.
After getting his first career win earlier this year in New Orleans, he achieved another milestone, hitting all 18 greens in regulation.
The result? A 3-under 67 to get to 1 under and near the lead with 36 holes to go in the national championship.
"Patience is something that has always been a struggle for me," Horschel said.
You wouldn't know it this week.
Through his first two rounds, Horschel has hit 31 of 36 greens -- best in the field -- and on Friday made four birdies and just bogey on a day when there were more than 10 rounds in the 80s.
"I'm trying to keep a smile on my face and be happy with anything I do," the 26-year-old said. "If I can execute every shot, that's all I can try to do out there this week."
Which is what he's done most of this season. At one point, Horschel had four straight top 10s, which included a runner-up in Houston and a third-place finish in San Antonio.
Already he's earned quadruple this year what he has any other year on the PGA TOUR.
Now he's looking for his first major.
"I think patience has come from the older I get, the more I can understand that I don't have to get off to a hot start," said Horschel, who was 2 over after his first seven holes of the tournament this week. "After I finished, and I walked off the golf course and I wasn't upset at all. I played well, I executed a lot of golf shots, just nothing went in the hole."
Friday, everything seemed to.
It didn't matter that it was the U.S. Open as far as Horschel was concerned.
"I know it's a big event, I know it's a historical event," he said. "But one thing that me and Fran have worked on is limiting the distractions. It's more or less just focus on what I do, don't worry about anybody else. Don't worry about the crowd noise. Don't worry about what your playing partners are doing, just focus on what I'm trying to do.
"I'm just going to think about trying to execute every golf shot from here on in for the next 36 holes. If I can do that, we'll see what happens on Sunday."