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.
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.