Horschel's FedEx win a dream come true - literally

By Jason SobelSeptember 15, 2014, 12:44 am

ATLANTA – When Billy Horschel was 10 years old, he had a dream.

Then an all-star baseball player, he dreamed that would he get hit in the face during baseball practice. When he awoke, he didn’t simply shake it off. He knew it would happen soon. He considered it a premonition.

He was right. Not long afterward, Horschel was at practice and an oblivious teammate started taking swings. The bat struck him right in the eye.

“I remember the adults saying I wasn't crying,” he recalls. “I was saying, ‘I saw this coming.’”

His father, Bill, rushed him to the hospital; his mother, Kathy, soon joined them. “For him to dream about it and for it to happen was surreal,” she says.

He didn’t suffer any serious damage. He did, however, learn that his dreams could be fateful.

Walking off the teebox of the par-3 18th hole at East Lake Golf Club on Sunday afternoon, Horschel recounted this story to his caddie, Micah Fugitt. He told him about that dream. He told him about how it came true.

Then he told him about another dream.

Other than his wife, Brittany, he hadn’t told a single person about this one before.

His memory is a little hazy. It happened back in December or January. He can’t remember if he was at home or somewhere else. But he knows what he saw.

“It was very faint, but I remember holding up the FedEx Cup trophy,” Horschel recounts. “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.’”

Instead, it turned into another dream come true.

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After a regular season during which Horschel earned just a pair of top-10 results, a whirlwind three-week span rendered him not only champion of the largest monetary prize in golf, but clairvoyant once again.

“I thought about it last week after I won,” he said. “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.”

That’s a story in itself. An excitable guy who often looks like he’s been served two cups of coffee too many, even he has a difficult time convincing himself he can remain calm. Forget the old cliché. Horschel doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. He displays it right across his face at all times.

It was evident two weeks ago, when he had a chance to win the Deutsche Bank Championship, but chunked a 6-iron 40 yards short of the green into a hazard. He showed it again last week, when he got sweet redemption by winning the BMW Championship in less dramatic fashion.

On this day, though, that eerie calm stayed with him throughout the final round of the season. He fist-pumped his way through a few early birdies. He gritted his teeth after making his lone bogey. He joked around with announcers. He gator-chomped with the playful Georgia galleries.

And when it was almost over, when he led by three and his golf ball was already on the final green and both the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship titles were in the midst of being engraved, he decided to tell his caddie a story about a dream.

“He never told me that before,” Fugitt said with a smile. “He said he didn’t know if it was real. He didn’t know if it was going to be this year or sometime down the road.”

It’s akin to dreaming of the winning lottery numbers.

Horschel claimed $10 million for the FedEx Cup and another $1.44 million in loose change for the Tour Championship. In the past three weeks, he’s earned $13.48 million. For 21 days, that means $641,904 per day – or $26,746 per hour, $445 per minute, $7.43 per second.

That’s a lot of money for anyone, but especially someone who grew up in a blue-collar family. He was never a country club kid with a silver spoon. Once he was old enough, Horschel played golf at a 2,811-yard, par-58 course called Summit View GC in Grant, Fla., that doesn’t even exist anymore.

Prior to more than doubling his previous career earnings, he explained that the money would mean a lot – not to him personally, but because it would afford him luxury of taking care of all the people who helped take care of him for so many years.

Not that any of them are asking for anything.

Kathy is a commodity manager while also studying to earn her college degree. Bill still works in construction with his brother. As for whether their son’s wealth would ever change things, he answers, “I just love working. I love working with my hands. I’d like to slow down a little bit, but people keep calling me and I keep saying yes.”

Like any doting parents, they’re more concerned with their son’s welfare – and that of his family. Billy and Brittany will soon welcome a baby girl, to be named Skylar Lillian.

She will grow up the daughter of not only a FedEx Cup champion, but one who saw it coming.

“It may sound crazy,” Horschel says of his premonition. “People may think I'm insane, but I honestly don't care now.”

That’s because for him, winning this title was a dream come true. Literally.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.