Visiting American Billy Horschel, while delighted for his victorious Ryder Cup team-mates, revealed a recent conversation with Rory McIlroy when the duo agreed it would be good to rewind the clock to their pre-professional ‘rambunctious’ ways.
The conversation Horschel spoke of with McIlroy was during the recent PGA Tour’s BMW Championship as they discussed how they carried themselves in being on opposing teams at the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down compared to the events that now unfold at a Ryder Cup.
Horschel, now aged 34, was on the eventual U.S. winning side that year that included Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson who also savoured success last week in rural Wisconsin. Though in looking back 14-years, Horschel admitted he was a lot more ‘rambunctious’ as a 20-year-old at the 2007 Walker Cup than the player of today who recently captured the European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship.
“The Billy Horschel back then is not much different than that guy today but then I have got a few more years and I am little bit wiser, hopefully,” he said smiling ahead of his maiden Alfred Dunhill Championship appearance.
“As I went into that 2007 Walker Cup, I knew I was an emotional guy and a more of a cheer-leader and more rambunctious. I said I was the Sergio Garcia of the American team back then. It showed.
“Rory and I have joked about it, even recently when we played together at Caves Valley (BMW Championship). We both said we were young back then and we both did and said some dumb things, and that’s what you do when you’re 18, 20-years old.
“Royal County Down was a beautiful golf course, it was a great event and we were very successful there. And like and I agreed is that we wished we each had that little bit of naïve, cockiness kind of mindset in now in playing golf for as long as we have.
“In playing professional golf you get knocked down sometimes and get put back in your boots a little bit, so we both wish we still had little naïve cockiness that we could take on the world and defeat it.”
In saying that, Horschel buried his ‘non-selection’ grievance to lavish praise on his fellow Americans in regaining the Ryder Cup. Horschel has been out-spoken following his triumph at European Tour HQ in being over-looked by USA captain, Steve Stricker but that’s seemingly all forgotten on the back of the American’s dominant 10-point triumph.
“When I looked at it, all 12 Americans played really great,” he said. “There wasn’t one player that wasn’t playing great last week or wasn’t on some type of form when they played, and the Europeans were just a little off. Rory (McIlroy) was a little off. Lee (Westwood) was a little off. Several of the guys were a little off. Just seeing shots that historically in those competitions, Europeans haven’t been making mistakes in a foursome format, and they were making some.
“So, when it came down to that, you know, I think that’s what it comes down to in my opinion. So yeah, it was great to see the Americans win. I didn’t want to see another year where we get questioned again about why haven’t we won and players don’t care.
“That’s the thing that ticks me off. I haven’t been part of the Ryder Cup, but the thing that irks me a little bit is when they say that the U.S. players don’t care about the Ryder Cup and I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean everybody who has played for the last two decades that I’ve come across cared tremendously about it. So, it was nice to see the success they had last week.”
Horschel will play this week accompanied by his father, Billy Senior in what is a special 70th birthday gift to his dad.
“Yeah, this is a special opportunity. When we decided to play the Dunhill Links, I think in July, I was curious if I could get my dad in to play this event because his birthday is on Friday. He turns 70,” said Horschel.
“I had a surprise trip back him in America with 14 people, and so if I couldn’t play here with my dad this week, I’m not sure I would be here because I wanted to do something special for him. So it was great that Johann and his staff allowed me to play with him this week.
“St Andrews is such a beautiful place, beautiful golf course. To play Kingsbarns Links on Monday the first time and seeing it and people raved about it for years, truly was amazing. And I didn’t play The Open Championship in 2018 at Carnoustie, so that was the first time seeing it yesterday, and it’s a beast of a golf course and I can understand why it’s called Car-Nasty now, especially with the conditions that it looks like we’re going to be playing in this week. It’s going to bare its teeth full force this week.”
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