MORE INTERVIEWS: Valero Texas Open transcripts archive
ROYCE THOMPSON: We'd like to welcome Billy Horschel into the media center. This week, Billy, you are leading in strokes gained putting and putting average. If you could talk a little about your putting this week?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, I feel very comfortable on these greens. I also felt comfortable on last week's greens, growing up on Bermuda. I think I feel very comfortable in the sense of speed and understanding how to read the putts and everything. But I think leading those two areas is a big key in playing well each week.
I've worked hard on improving my putting. I've never had a bad putting stroke. I think it's just we tweaked a couple things mechanically, nothing big. But it's just a little bit of the practice sessions of how we go about practicing putting and getting more out of the putting session, instead of just hitting putts from random areas and this and that. So what I do earlier in the week to put a little more pressure on myself in my practice putting routine I think pays off when it comes tournament time.
Q. You talked yesterday about the mental part of playing and how comfortable you've been. Today you were animated out there, high fives for the kids. Didn't look like you were sweating one bullet out there. So what about that part of your game and how that's evolved for you?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, I'm going to be animated no matter what. It's going to be tough for me to control. It's all out of I don't think about when I hit this shot, I'm going to jump and see where my ball ends up or I'm going to fist pump or high five people. It's just in the moment happens.
I'm trying to stay loose. I think I've learned in the past that the looser I am, the more it helps. But at the same time I've got to remain focused when it comes time for me to hit my shot and to go through my routine in the process of making sure I'm focused on what I want to do.
Q. First time leading after three rounds for you. When did you think about that or did you think about that at all maybe on 18 or after it was over or did you think about that at all?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Haven't thought about it until now, until you said something. I obviously knew I was probably leading, but leading after three rounds is a good thing. I've been in situations in other college events and a couple other tournaments, Mini Tour events when I turned pro right away, but I think I've learned from my past experiences when I've been closer to the lead with 36 holes left or 54 holes left, and I haven't done a good job with it.
But I think it's time for me to learn from those experiences and take it to the next level tomorrow.
Q. When you're leading after three, that means you're on the doorstep of your first PGA TOUR win. What's it going to take for you to win it tomorrow?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Keep doing the same thing I'm doing. I'm not going to change one thing that I've been doing. I'm going to commit to everything I'm doing, stay focused, trust my shots, and keep making a lot of birdies.
Q. What did you learn from Houston last week and what can you put into play that maybe you learned from Houston last week?
BILLY HORSCHEL: What I learned from Houston was that final round, played some good final rounds from in the middle of the field to move up on the leaderboard. But to be up there closer to the lead, two shots going into the last day, I learned that I can handle my own. I can do my thing. If I stay focused and commit to what I want to do, I can handle my own.
In that final round, playing with a Top 5 player in the world with Lee Westwood, I could have easily gotten caught up in what he does, but I didn't. I was focused. My head was down in the sense that I was more worried about what I was doing. I couldn't care less about what anybody else was doing on the golf course. I didn't look at the leaderboard.
As I told my caddy earlier in the week or something, I said I watched the coverage Sunday night, and I said if I was looking at leaderboards all day I would not have played well because all that fluctuation of everyone making birdies here and there.
So I've just learned that I can be in my own little zone and do my thing and not worry about anything else on the golf course.
Q. You kind of alluded to it already, but back from your college days to Mini Tour days, what did you learn specifically when you were holding the 54 hole lead if it didn't work out for you? What did you learn from those experiences?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I've learned more since I've been out on TOUR how to be near the lead or have the lead. I mean, the college days it was easy because there was never a leaderboard out there so you never knew what anyone was doing. You were just trying to play the best you could. Same with the couple of Mini Tour events I did play in.
I think what I'm learning is that I just need to and I know I keep repeating it, but just stay focused on what I'm doing and not worry about anything else. I'm a guy that likes to know a lot of things and that hurts me from time to time, and it has in the past. I've learned how to not look around and not worry about what anybody else is doing out there.
Q. After you briefly fell out of the lead today with that two shot swing on 8. How important was it for you to come right back on 9 for your confidence?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I didn't even know I fell out of the lead until someone just told me. Like I said, I wasn't looking at the leaderboard. Charley was playing well. I couldn't care less whether I was leading after eight holes or whether I'm leading right now.
I knew that I was playing well. I made a couple bad bogeys, and a couple putts, couple shots I hit very well didn't turn out that way. And I said just keep doing what you're doing and you're going to make birdie. So I knew that was going to happen.
It's a tough day out here. You hit a lot of good shots and they don't turn out the way you think they should when you hit them the way you wanted. So, yeah, it didn't bother me at all. Didn't care at all. I knew I was going to make birdies coming in.
Q. How were the conditions with the wind today? Was it particularly tough?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, it's tough because the first four holes starting out the day, No. 2's not too bad. I hit an awful second shot, but you've got to hit some really good tee shots, and then after you hit the really good tee shots, you've got long irons into some of these greens. They're not very big in certain areas. You know, it's tough to judge how far the ball is going to go every time.
I hit pitching wedge on 16, and the pin was 173. I mean, that's the farthest I've ever probably tried to hit a pitching wedge, and it was a yard from being good, and I probably had I missed it just a touch, so it was probably another five yards in there, so it's tough.
You've got to do a good job of figuring out the wind and playing the wind. You have to use the wind as much as you can as your friend and not try to fight against it when it's blowing this hard.
Q. You're a veteran by no means, but the early part of your career did you think it would not take you this long to be here, but has it panned out how you thought the first few years of your pro career would go?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Never did. I thought right when I got my card, right after I got out of college, I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. Not smooth sailing, but I thought it's going to take off. Unfortunately, I had a wrist injury that I had to deal with. I had to have surgery. Then it took me a year just to get back to playing somewhat good golf, and it took me another year to understand how to control my emotions and what I needed to do day in and day out to play well out here.
It's not that I'm a slow learner; it's just taken me a little more time. I'm always trying to learn; I just haven't always done what I've wanted to do.
Q. Is this your year to win?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, and I said it would. What happens tomorrow, I don't know. But I got my card after Q school, and I said I was going to win this year. I felt that confident in the way where my game was at right after Q school. I felt confident in what I was doing and the path I was going down in the sense of the plan I had in place with my instructor, Todd, and obviously my sports guy, Fran, has been a big help since I started working with him last summer.
Then, obviously, you add my trainer there when I started working out with him in September, Jeff Fronk. I think I've put everything and done everything you need to do to get to the level to win. Whether my time is tomorrow, I can't tell you this right now, but I hope it is. If it's not, then I'll go on to next week and try to win that week.
Q. If I have it right, tomorrow you're playing with Jim Furyk. You mentioned playing with Lee. You played with Tiger earlier in the year. Star struck no longer an issue?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I've never been star struck out here. Even when I first came out on TOUR. You watch these guys playing I've watched these guys playing as I've grown up. When I first got out on TOUR it was like, hey, you know it's cool that I'm playing with these guys, but at the same time I felt I was just as good as they were. I just haven't had the track record to prove it.
I respect all the veterans out here. I respect everyone that's put their time out here. I think everyone knows that I'm really respectful to everybody. But at the same time I'm as confident as I've ever been, and I feel just as good as anyone else in the world right now. Whether, like I said, I have nothing to back that up against, but in my own mind that's all I care about.
Q. I wanted to follow up on the course a little bit now that you've had a chance to look at it. The first day you had the north wind, yesterday was very benign, not a whole lot of wind, today you have a south wind. So you've seen this course in just about every condition you could see it from, including Wednesday storms and everything else. How does it stack up as far as the courses that you play around the TOUR and from seeing it from all angles like this?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I've played the course. Before this year, I played the tournament two times and I played pretty much every wind on this golf course in years past, so I knew what the wind was going to be like starting the day out. It blows pretty hard out here. A lot of these greens are elevated, they've got little runoffs, and they're starting to firm up.
I think the two factors that make a course play tough is how firm the greens are and how much the wind blows. Obviously, you saw yesterday the wind was very benign. You had a lot of low scores. End of the day, the wind picks up and there may not be that many low scores. I don't know. I don't know what anyone shot.
But I mean, it's a tough course. Any course is tough when the wind blows, and this one is especially when you've got to hit good tee shots and everything. It puts a little bit more premium on the ball striking issue.
Q. Where's your confidence come from? Were you like that as a kid? Did you get it from your parents, something over time?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I've always been pretty confident. I think confidence comes from on the golf course. I think confidence comes from your practice sessions, hitting the ball the way you want, doing your drills or whatever. I think you can build confidence off that. You can also build confidence off the way you've played.
As of late, for me, it's more confidence added to that little meter of confidence or whatever. But I've always been pretty confident in what I've done. I've never been hesitant or unsure of things. I think it's just a natural thing for me. I've always been someone who has been very confident and very sure of what my abilities are in any sport or whatever I've done in my life so far.
Q. In a completely unrelated question. A victory here would come with a Masters berth. How special would that be for you to play in your first Masters?
BILLY HORSCHEL: It will be cool, but I'll worry about that tomorrow if it happens.
Q. Was there a key hole for you today? Was it the long putt on 3 to get you going or was there a key hole?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I think the key hole for me was making par at 12. I had 115 yards or something to that pin, and I hit an awful, I mean, worst shot I've probably hit all day with a little sand wedge. And 2, I hit a really good bunker shot to get it as close as I did and to make that putt was huge. Knowing I was going to a par 3 that was playing tough and to hit that and hit a really good tee shot on 13, but I think making par on number 12 was a big key.
Q. You've talked about winning tomorrow. What would just winning for the sheer sake of winning your first PGA TOUR event, what would that mean to you?
BILLY HORSCHEL: It would just be a check on a goal that I've had since I turned pro is winning the PGA TOUR. That's all it would mean. Future wise, I don't know what else it's going to mean to me. But all it really is I can check off one of my goals that I've had since I've turned pro.
Q. Last week you finished second, I think a half million dollars. This week just for the sake of setting your schedule for next year and knowing you don't have to worry about Q school or anything like that, are those meaningful weeks for you to know that you're not going to have to dread it going down to the end and have to play eight weeks in a row or something like that?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Last week was key to finish second and wrap up my card. I told people, I said, it's going to be a scary thing. It's going to be Scary Billy in the sense that my card's wrapped up and now I can play a little more free and a little more at ease. I haven't been in a position where my card's been wrapped up and I can just let it go and not have to worry about things.
Now I'm in a position where I know my card's wrapped up. I don't have to worry about it anymore. I know I'm going to be a member of the PGA TOUR. I finally don't have to go back to Q school for once.
I took care of business last week, so this is just me being more free on the golf course and allowing things to happen a little bit more and me playing at home. When I play at home, there is not much worry when I hit a golf shot, and I feel like that now. I don't care if there's water or whatever it is; I'm going to tune it out and not worry about it.