Horschel still basking in glow of first PGA Tour win


Billy Horschel holds up the tournament trophy on Sunday after winning the Zurich Classic. (The Associated Press)

Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 11:24 p.m.

The party continues for Billy Horschel.

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Billy Horschel holds up the tournament trophy on Sunday after winning the Zurich Classic. (The Associated Press)

The former UF golfer flew home to Jacksonville on Monday morning with his buddies and former Gator golfers Chris DiMarco and Matt Every after a late night in New Orleans.

“I've had two hours sleep,” Horschel said Monday. “But I'm still wired. It's not over yet. I'll probably celebrate with my wife (Britt, also a former UF golfer) and friends and family. I'm going to take a couple more days and get back at it Wednesday.

“It was great to be with those guys and have them there on the back of the green on 18 since my family wasn't there. All we did (Sunday night) was go to a steak place for dinner, played some blackjack and just stayed up late. It was a lot of fun.”

Horschel had his breakthrough win on the PGA Tour on Sunday when he won the Zurich Classic. The win elevated him to third on both the FedEx Cup points race and Tour money list.

He has now won $2,567,891 this year and is ranked 49th in the World Golf Rankings. The win also made him eligible for The Players Championship next week and the Masters next year.

“It's always been in my life that when I've accomplished something, it takes a long time to sink in,” Horschel said. “I don't know why that is. I've always been that way. I accomplish something and it's on the the next step.

“Stuff doesn't sink in. I don't have that aha moment where I think, ‘I can't believe what I did.' My goal isn't to be a top-50 player, it's to be the best player in the world. My goal isn't to be in the Masters, it's to win the Masters. My goal isn't to be in The Players, it's to win The Players.”

Horschel, who on Friday withdrew from this week's event in Charlotte, N.C., will be considered one of the favorites next week at The Players. Not only is he on a roll with four straight top-10 finishes on Tour, he knows the course well.

“I like my chances,” he said. “I've played it quite a bit. Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”

Horschel, who was a three-time, first-team All-American for Buddy Alexander at Florida, said he thought about all of the people who have helped him out during his golf career while reflecting on his path to being a winner on Tour.

“I thought about it all,” he said. “From being a little kid starting to play to coach Alexander, who took a chance on me. There are so many people to thank and I can't thank them enough.

“I still can't believe I've won. I'm still just ecstatic to be able to check off one of the boxes as a PGA Tour winner.”

Horschel, who had to fight through qualifying school last December to get his Tour card, credited an improved wedge game and a better attitude on the course for his turnaround.

He had come close to winning before, both in 2011 and this season. Horschel finished second and third in two events this year.

“I don't think there was any scar tissue,” he said. “I just tried to take the positives from each tournament.”

He also made good on a prediction at Q-school that this would be the year he won his first event.

“I was happy I was able to back up that comment,” he said, “and not look like an idiot.”

The tournament in Avonale, La., was also a big one for Bobby Gates, the former Buchholz High School golfer who also had to go through Q-school to get on Tour. He finished in a tie for fourth to move inside the top 125 on Tour in money winnings this year.

Gates is now at 118th with $290,400. The top 125 at the end of the year on both the money list and the FedEx Cup retain their Tour cards for next year. Gates is at 141st on the FedEx Cup list.

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