His recent victory at the Zurich Classic notwithstanding, US Open co-leader Billy Horschel will play the role of rank outsider at Merion this afternoon. His relative anonymity, however, isn’t to be confused with a lack of pedigree.
The Florida native may not be a prodigious hitter or headline-hogging dresser, but as a Tour winner and multimillionaire at the tender age of 26, he deserves consideration alongside alongside erstwhile Walker Cup teammates Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson and Kyle Stanley as a likely heir to the PGA Tour. (What a group that 2007 team is begining to look in retrospect!)
In short, he’s accomplished too much to be branded a long-shot journeyman in the mould of Jason Gore or Mike Donald.
He doesn’t sound like one, either. His performance at yesterday’s second round press conference was notable for the ease and confidence with which he assessed his chances:
“I feel like when I come to the golf course — no matter how bad I hit it, how bad my short game is or how bad I’m putting during the practice round days — once I get to Thursday, I flip a switch and find some way to play well. That’s what I did in college and that’s what I’m doing now.
“I’m going to hit a couple of balls, hit a couple of putts, and work with Todd Anderson, my teacher. We’re not going to change anything. Everything seems good. I’ve just got to stay patient and keep committing [to] and executing every shot, and I’ll be okay on Sunday.”
What’s more — and this is will only look clever if he pulls off a miracle of Bradley-esque proportions — Horschel has some form when it comes to bossing USGA layouts. He took medalist honours at the 2006 US Amateur after shooting 60 (around Hazeltine, no less!) in the opening round.