By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO --- It's been talked about many times. Billy Horschel may have heard it but definitely didn’t listen in his first handful of starts on the PGA TOUR.
Don’t try too hard.
“I think that’s what the key was for me -- I tried too hard,” Horschel said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to play well, and I didn’t allow myself to be free and allow it just to happen.”
Horschel, 26, has gotten out of his own way. It has let the talent come to the surface for a player who was a member of the 2007 Walker Cup team and former NCAA All-American out of Florida. His 4-under 68 at the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio has him one shot off the lead at the Valero Texas Open.
He’s looking very good to make his TOUR-leading 21st consecutive cut. The streak started last June at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and he reached his high point last week with a tie for second behind D.A. Points at the Shell Houston Open.
“I think the run all started with me putting a little more time on a regular basis with my short game,” Horschel said. “I think with my ball-striking I haven’t had to worry too much about that. It’s just making the putts inside 10 feet on a more consistent basis, throwing in a couple of 15-20 footers a round.”
Horschel rammed that idea home when he dropped an 18-footer for birdie at No. 9, one of the tougher holes on the course when the north wind blows like it did Thursday. Horschel is 38th in strokes gained-putting in 2013, 109th in that category last year.
Overall, Horschel had 25 putts, which matched early afternoon co-leader Padraig Harrington. Also, like Harrington, he missed seven greens.
“I made a couple of good par saves early in my round to get the momentum going and not lose anything,” he said. “I could hit the ball a little bit better, but I did a good job of managing it and making a couple of putts.”