Sep
14
2014
Horschel bags bushel of bucks, wins Tour Championship, FedExCup
By Stephanie Wei under FedExCup

When Billy Horschel was younger, he would have strange dreams and they’d come true. For instance, when he was 10 years old, he dreamt he would get hit in the face with a baseball bat. It ended up happening. As he walked up the 18th hole, Horschel told his caddie Micah Fugitt that earlier this year he had a dream he would win the FedExCup.

“He said it was a very faint dream, so he didn’t know if it was real,” said Fugitt, who had to take a minute to fight back emotions before he could chat with the media. “He said he didn’t know if it was going to be this year or if it was going to be sometime down the road.”

Horschel, who shot a final-round, two-under 68 for an 11-under tournament total, expanded on the story in his post-round presser.

“There’s certain things throughout my life that have come true, and I’ve sort of seen it beforehand in my  when I sleep at night,” he said.  I just sort of, you know, have a premonition or whatever you want to call it.

“I was hit in the eye with a baseball bat at an All Star practice when I was about 10 years old, and I think I remember the adult saying I wasn’t crying, I was saying I saw this coming.  Like I remember, I had a dream saying I was going to be hit in the face with a baseball bat.

“There were certain other things through my life that has come like that.  And I just remember something like that in December or January, I just had this  you know, I woke up and I wasn’t sure if it was real or not because it was very faint, but I remember holding up the FedExCup trophy, and as the season went along, I never thought about it, but I just said, well, maybe it was just a dream that wasn’t real.”

And did this all cross his mind during the FedExCup Playoffs?

“Obviously being in the position where I was, I thought about it last week after I won,” said Horschel.  I’ve thought about it this week a little bit that maybe this is actually something that is supposed to happen.  And maybe that’s why when I woke up this morning I was calm knowing that this is my chance to win the FedExCup trophy.”

Turned out his dream — like the one he had when he was 10 — did indeed materialize. Difference is, this time it also had a $10 million dollar bonus that came along with finishing atop the standings of the FedExCup Playoffs. Horschel, who captured the Tour Championship by three shots over Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy, takes home $1.4 million in prize money for winning the event, which means he walks away with a total of $11.4 million. Not too shabby for a week’s worth of work. Or should I say a month — well, at least the last three weeks.

It seems like a lifetime ago that Horschel chunked a 6-iron barely reaching the hazard guarding the 18th green at TPC Boston on the 72nd hole of the Deutsche Bank Championship, losing the title to Chris Kirk. Horschel received a ton of grief via social media, which only served to fire him up.

“I’m not afraid of what people say,” he said. “You know, it doesn’t bother me.  If anything, you know, it maybe gives me a little chip, a little added motivation that I can prove them wrong.  But like I said, 98 percent of the stuff that I read on Twitter was very, you know, just a lot of positive stuff.  Two percent was negative, and you know what, people are always going to say negative stuff about you.  You know, you can’t go throughout life where everyone likes you.  That’s just the way it is.

“I try and be nice and be gracious and be respectful and have fun debates between people on Twitter, but at the same time people are going to be who they are.  I’m a guy who, you know, you’re going to be like that, it doesn’t bother me at all.

“So (the negative comments) gave me just a little added motivation, not that I needed anymore.  But I just wanted to prove some people wrong that I did have what it takes to get the job done, and I proved them wrong, and I proved them wrong again this week that I can get the job done.”

Indeed. It didn’t take long for him to do just that — he redeemed himself by capturing the BMW Championship title last week at Cherry Hills, with a two-shot victory over Bubba Watson. Horschel carried over his mojo to this week’s season-ending Tour Championship.

The 27-year-old from Florida played alongside the world no. 1, Rory McIlroy, over the weekend and showed no signs of flinching. In fact, Horschel, known for his outgoing, excitable and emotional personality, was eerily composed in the final round at East Lake, especially coming down the stretch. His caddie pointed it out, as well.

“Billy was incredible all day,” said Fugitt. “He didn’t show any nerves all day. Actually, this is the third week I’ve seen him like this. Now I will say this, I think he was more nervous last week than he was this week coming down the stretch.”

However, Horschel did let go and unleashed a massive celebration after he rolled in a 31-footer to save par on no. 16, which kept him two shots ahead of Furyk heading into the final hole.

“The putt was huge on 16,” said Horschel.  “Unfortunately, I hit a bad drive.  Just didn’t commit to it to go ahead and release it and I blocked it way right…

“I’m looking at this putt.  I’m reading it.  I see the line perfectly, and I’m thinking to myself, I’m like, man, if I can just put the best stroke I can possibly make on it, I think this ball is going to go in the hole.

“I thought back to about the putt I made at No. 10 at Denver last week, where I made a big par putt on that whole, and I’m like I’m due for —  I made a lot of long putts this week, but I still feel like there’s a lot more putts to be made and I knew I was due for a long one.  And I put the best stroke on it I could and got up to the top of that ridge, and I’m like, man, this looks like it’s going into the hole.  Had a little bit of steam to it and it went in there dead center.  That was just a great feeling.”

At the time, he was aware of Furyk’s position.

“I knew where Jim stood,” said Horschel. “I knew where everyone else stood and I didn’t want to give a shot back coming in.  It was obviously the key to winning the FedExCup trophy and Tour Championship, because if that happens, you know, it gets a little bit tighter and who knows how the finish ends.”

Well, Furyk made a mess of 17, which led to a bogey, and then he dropped another shot with a bogey on 18. In turn, Horschel was in full control with a three-shot lead as he stood on the 18th tee. He calmly knocked it to 28 feet on the par-3 finishing hole and then two-putted for a relatively drama-free conclusion.

Horschel was somewhat aware know that there was a scenario in which that if Furyk won and he finished second, he would still win the FedExCup.

“I don’t know if I’m right, but wasn’t it if Furyk would’ve won, we still would’ve won the FedExCup if we came second?” asked Fugitt.

Yep.

“I know that’s not how — we didn’t want it to work out that way,” he continued. “We wanted to win both.”

Now, while Horschel did not receive a captain’s pick for the American Ryder Cup team, which were made the day after the Deutsche Bank Championship, he remains extremely supportive of the squad.

“I’ll be supportive of the U.S. team, and even with this extra win, I still don’t feel like I deserve to be on the team,” said Horschel. “I haven’t played good enough this year.  I haven’t played good enough over a two-year period to be on the team, and I understand that.  I’m not upset with that.  I’m over it.  I’ve been over it since the picks were made at Deutsche Bank, and I’m fully supportive of the U.S. team and everyone else.

“Tom (Watson) texted me earlier in the week and I said, hey, I’m fully behind you, so hopefully the team can go over there and bring back the Ryder Cup trophy, because it’s been too long since we’ve had it in our hands.”

I’d say many American fans would like to see Horschel on the U.S. team, particularly since he plays with so much passion, not to mention he has a good record from his amateur days on the Walker Cup. When asked, McIlroy even admitted he’s glad he won’t be seeing Horschel on the other side of the pond in just over a week’s time.

“There’s a few guys I’m glad I’m not going to see at Gleneagles:  (Horschel), Ryan Palmer, Chris Kirk,” said Rory.  “There’s a few guys that are playing well that aren’t on this U.S. team that obviously had a great chance to make it.”

Here’s a solution: Make the captain’s picks the day after the Tour Championship.

But I digress. Many congrats to Billy Horschel and his family. Horschel and his wife Brittany are expecting the couple’s first child on September 27th.