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'The Turn': Billy Horschel lends support, cheers on Marcus Byrd at Final Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry

4 Min Read



    Written by Alistair Cameron

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Thirty mph gusts swept across the grounds at Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass to begin the first round of Final Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry. The day was met with overcast conditions, a contrast to the usual sunshine and heat seen during the Florida swing that Billy Horschel is used to. But things were heating up as 163 players battled it out for status for the 2024 season across the PGA TOUR, Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR Americas.

    Roaming around the grounds was the seven-time PGA TOUR winner, Horschel, who was on-site to follow “The Turn: Q-School presented by Korn Ferry” star, Marcus Byrd. Horschel took to his social, posting updates during Byrd’s round on X, formerly known as Twitter.

    “And he’s off! Let’s go @Mbyrd1017! @APGA_Tour @PGATOUR @KornFerryTour #QSchoolFinals,” posted an exuberant Horschel, who included a video of Byrd starting his Final Stage adventure.

    He continued: “Birdie opportunity on the 10th. His 1st hole. Just misses. Tap in par. @APGA_Tour @PGATOUR @KornFerryTour #QSchoolFinals”

    Horschel and Byrd are no strangers: The 26-year-old Byrd finished second (2022) and third (2021) at the Billy Horschel APGA Invitational, presented by Cisco, held at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Byrd also earned a spot at this year’s Genesis Invitational after being selected as the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption winner and spent an early week practice round with Horschel at Riviera Country Club.

    “He told me personally that he thinks I have the talent to play on the PGA TOUR and anything I needed just to reach out,” Byrd said during his first start, at The Genesis Invitational. “And he's been, he's been an awesome mentor, awesome guy to look up to. I feel like we have a lot of things in common with our determination and kind of wearing our heart on our sleeve when we play and, and how bad we want to win."

    Byrd competed the following week at The Honda Classic and earned the opportunity for two more TOUR starts later in the summer (Wells Fargo Championship and John Deere Classic), and Horschel has been tracking his journey throughout, all the way to Final Stage.

    “I met Marcus [Byrd] three years ago when I held my first APGA Tour event,” Horschel said after watching Byrd tee off for his first round. “He’s just a good person. Has a lot of game, has a lot of talent, as do many of the players out on the APGA Tour. I’m always trying to give him as much support as I can. I text him when I’m playing well and he reaches out to me asking for advice from time to time.

    “Marcus is an unbelievable kid. His story is pretty cool. He played collegiate golf and had some success there. But as a lot of guys find out when they turn pro that, if they don’t have sponsors lined up or have family and friends with enough money to support them then they’re going to have to nickel and dime everything they can to make it work. And Marcus is one of those guys.”

    Marcus Byrd on being an inspiration to young golfers

    Horschel met with the 2022 APGA Farmers Insurance Fall Series winner prior to his first round, offering a pep talk and words of wisdom as they walked to his first tee.

    “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t play well,” Horschel stated walking stride for stride with Byrd as they approached the tee. “You’re one of the more talented guys out here. You’ve got all the game. You’ve got to just relax. It’s like another APGA event. Yes, there’s bigger stakes at the end of the tunnel but at the end of the day, it’s just you and the golf course.”

    Horschel spent parts of Byrd’s front nine providing his 212,000 followers on X with shot-for-shot coverage as Byrd battled the elements early on. He had planned to be at Final Stage ever since they announced it would be hosted at TPC Sawgrass.

    “When I knew Q-School was here, I was pulling for him and Wille Mack, who were both at Second Stage," Horschel said. "Willie just missed, but with Marcus being here, I wanted to come out and support him this week. And just have a friendly face that knows is in his corner, watching him and pulling for him.”

    In the gusty winds, Byrd finished birdie-par-birdie and signed for a 4-over, 74 at Dye’s Valley. The 20-foot birdie putt to end his round served as a momentum builder for the rest of the week with all still to play for and status depending on the final finishing position come Sunday. The top five finishers and ties will earn 2024 PGA TOUR membership; the next 40 finishers and ties will earn guaranteed Korn Ferry Tour starts. Throughout this week, a multitude of eligibility possibilities will play out amidst blustery weather at Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass and Sawgrass Country Club, with Horschel still hopeful for his friend.

    “He’s got a big heart," said Horschel. "He’s fun-loving. He’s determined. He’s competitive. And the more people learn about guys like Marcus and other guys trying to make it to the PGA TOUR, their stories are admirable when you hear what they are doing and going through to try and make it.”

    Alistair is a senior staff member at the PGA TOUR. Born and raised in England, he played golf professionally on the European Alps Tour before joining the PGA TOUR.

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