Former UF golfer leads Texas Open
Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 12:26 a.m.
SAN ANTONIO — Former University of Florida standout Billy Horschel leads the Texas Open.
Horschel birdied his last two holes to post his second straight 4-under 68.
Horschel jumped from 60th to 24th on the money list after a second-place finish at last week's Houston Open. He closed out Thursday's round with a birdie, and he one-upped that on Friday — closing with a pair of 11-foot birdie putts on No. 17 and 18 to vault into first.
“Today, I knew there was not going to be very much wind, so you had to take advantage of this golf course,” Horschel said. “I warmed up really well; probably hit the best I have on the range in a month-and-a-half before a round.”
He needed 28 putts on Friday after taking only 25 a day earlier, but Horschel hit 11 of 14 fairways after hitting only seven a day earlier.
Horschel has made the cut in all nine of the events he's entered this year, extending his tour-best streak to 21 made cuts in a row, but he has yet to win a PGA Tour event.
Now he faces a leaderboard filled with winning experienced players behind him, including four players — McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen and Lee Janzen — who have combined to win seven majors.
“I couldn't care less if they've won majors or not, honestly,” Horschel said. “I know they're good players and what they've done, but I feel I'm a good player in my own right.
“I think you have that mindset. You can't think that these guys have won majors, and then you start worrying about what they're doing and you forget about yourself.”
Rory McIlroy, the world's No. 2 golfer, matched the low round of the day with a 5-under par 67 and moved within three shots of Horschel, continuing his last-minute preparations for next week's Masters.
McIlroy, who decided to play in the tournament late last week, had seven birdies — including his final three holes — and overcame a bogey on No. 9 after driving into the rough and catching his left shin on a nearby cactus.
The misstep dropped McIlroy to 1 under, but he rebounded with key putts on the final three holes for birdies and pulled well within reach of the leaders entering the weekend.
“It was a good way to finish,” McIlroy said. “It will definitely make dinner taste a little nicer tonight and give me a couple of more hours in bed tomorrow morning.”
The 23-year-old two-time major winner is three shots back of Horschel.
McIlroy is the most recent major winner of the pursuers, having won the PGA Championship last August. However, he's struggled for much of this year following an equipment change and recently lost his No. 1 ranking to Tiger Woods.