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May 8 2013

5:35 PM

Diary: Horschel, Ernst at first PLAYERS

Billy Horschel and Derek Ernst are playing in their first PLAYERS Championship this week. (Getty Images)

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

Editor’s note: Billy Horschel and Derek Ernst won each of the last two weeks on the PGA TOUR and are playing in their first PLAYERS Championship this week. They will file a daily diary for PGATOUR.COM, documenting their week on and off the course beginning Tuesday.

Previous entry: Tuesday

Derek Ernst: I got up around 8 a.m., ate breakfast at the hotel then came here and practiced for 90 minutes before the press conference they have for all the rookies. I feel comfortable for some reason, but all it is is talking, not brain surgery. It’s kind of fun to have people want to listen to what I have to say. Maybe I’m relaxed because it’s just another golf tournament and it’s just the name on it that’s different. It’s still just golf with a stick, a ball and a hole.

I finally texted Wayne Gretzky back today, too, and said, ‘Thanks Mr. Gretzky for everything. I appreciate it coming from a champion like you. It means a lot.’ It’s pretty cool and still blows my mind that he texted me. They’re already talking about trying to hook us up to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next year.

Today, I played the back nine at TPC Sawgrass. My caddie had to try the shot at No. 17 they have them do on Wednesday every year.He hit it solid -- left and in the water. But I like the finishing holes here. They make for an anything-can-happen moment and it makes it entertaining for everyone else. I’ve never hit it in the water on 17 in the few rounds I’ve played here and knock on wood hope I won’t this week.

Tonight, I’m going to a bible study with Zach Johnson, Kevin Streelman and a few other guys. We’re having dinner at Fred Funk’s house and afterward there’s a private concert with Tenth Avenue North, which is my favorite Christian band. Tomorrow, I’m playing with Angel Cabrera and Louis Oosthuzien at 8:18 a.m.. I’ve never played with either of them but to play with Angel who was just in a playoff at the Masters is kind of cool. Since we tee off at 8:18 a.m., I’ll wake up around 6 a.m. and get breakfast here and warm up for about 55 minutes and then head to the first tee. I know I’m going to have fun whether I shoot 80 in the first round or 60.

Billy Horschel: I was up at 6 a.m. and got here an hour later, then had to do an appearance on Morning Drive for Golf Channel at 7:30 a.m., then I hit a few balls, then had a press conference since it’s my first time back after my win two weeks ago.

I’m happy I took last week off because I feel more rested. Tuesday and Wednesday are supposed to be light days, but I knew I had to do a lot of stuff with the media and I didn’t get enough practice in. I’d like to have another day to practice to be honest. I just don’t feel like I got enough in, and I’m a perfectionist.

The toughest part of this week has been saying no. It’s hard for me to say no to anybody -- whether it’s the media, or a fan for an autograph. I want to accommodate everybody but sometimes I push the boundaries and it ends up cutting into my practice time. I’m still learning how to handle that and learn how to say no.

I’m always a little nervous but this week I feel like once I get out there it’ll be just another tournament. I’m playing with Dustin Johnson and Ernie Els. I know Dustin from his days at Coastal Carolina and we’ve played together before. I’ve never played with Ernie, but we had lunch together in New Orleans, and it should be a good group. We tee off at 8:29 a.m., but it’s tough for me to go to bed early because I’m always staying up late. I’ll just go back to the house and hang out with my wife and parents, who are staying with me this week -- my house is regimented in terms of who can stay and who can’t.

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