Walker, Horschel poised to break through soon

By Ryan LavnerApril 27, 2013, 11:36 pm

AVONDALE, La. – It’s beginning to feel like college again for Billy Horschel, and not just because we’re only a short drive from Bourbon Street.

No, as a standout at Florida, Horschel was virtually always inside the top 10 – his estimate was about 85 percent. In one months-long stretch the summer after his sophomore year, he had a chance to win at the prestigious Porter Cup, Western Amateur and Northeast Amateur. In 2006-07, his senior year with the Gators, he won twice and seven times was in the top seven. So he’s no stranger to hot streaks. 

That he has gone T-2, T-3 and T-9 in his past three PGA Tour starts, thereby elevating himself from curiosity to consistent contender? Big deal. 

“Confidence is knowing that no matter how bad I hit it Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday, once Thursday comes a button clicks and I know I was going to find some way to play well,” he said Saturday. “To be out here on this stage with this pressure, I think this is obviously my best stretch – and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon.”

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, videos and photos

Video: Zurich Classic of New Orleans highlights

Alas, one of the only reasons Horschel, might not win Sunday at the Zurich Classic – other than trailing Lucas Glover by two shots – is because, well, another guy who seems destined to win soon, Jimmy Walker, might just beat him to the finish line.

Horschel, 26, and Walker, 34, haven’t just been knocking on the door lately. They’ve practically called in the SWAT team, surrounded the champion’s palace, and threatened to break out the battering ram. The countdown has begun.

After graduating from Q-School last December, Horschel looked directly into a Golf Channel camera and declared that he would win this season. To repeat: This was expressed at Q-School. Yet after three consecutive close calls, Horschel is actually disappointed that he hasn’t won sooner. He’s nothing if not a perfectionist.

In Houston, he lost to D.A. Points, who couldn’t miss down the stretch.

In San Antonio, he shot 71 after holding a two-shot lead and lost to Martin Laird’s 63.

And in Hilton Head, he played the closing two holes in 5 over par on the weekend.

Here on Friday, he was 3 over through eight holes and in danger of missing the cut for the first time in 23 starts, the longest active streak on Tour. But he turned it around to scrape out a 71, only to get off to another sluggish start in Round 3. Once again, he came home in 31 to post 12-under 204 and now sits two shots behind Glover, who doesn’t know quite what to expect from himself or his previously balky putter.

In other words, Horschel is exactly where he prefers: chasing.

Going back to college, he won only once when leading heading into the final round. Now that he’s joined the play-for-pay ranks, not much has changed.

“It’s just a little more focus in knowing that I have to go chase somebody down,” he said.

Also in hot pursuit is Walker, still winless after 173 starts.

Last August, he reached out to Butch Harmon, hoping the swing coach to the stars could elevate his game to the next level. It took only one lesson for Harmon to be convinced, and he soon brought Walker on as a full-time client.

They focused primarily on two areas of improvement: takeaway and follow-through.

Walker had long had a habit of dragging his hands back during the takeaway. No longer – Harmon now has Walker taking the clubhead quicker going back.

On the follow-through, Walker better releases the clubhead and tries to feel as though he moves his body toward the target.

That has freed up Walker’s swing, and created more speed, more power, more consistency.

After a steady if unspectacular 2012 campaign (six top 10s), Walker has three top-10 finishes this season, including a pair of top fives. He’s fifth in scoring average, ninth in birdies per round and 15th in the all-around ranking.

But perhaps most important for Sunday’s finale: Walker is ninth in final-round scoring average, at 68.60.

“It’s just a progression,” he said. “You feel comfortable and win one, and then you feel more comfortable winning, and then you start doing it a little more often. I feel like I’m around the top more and it’s fun. It’s very addicting.”

Just imagine how a victory might feel, for both him and Horschel.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Trump golf properties


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm