Horschel's win in New Orleans a long time coming

By Ryan LavnerApril 29, 2013, 12:21 am

AVONDALE, La. – The longest 52 minutes of Billy Horschel’s life were spent mostly in a brown leather chair in the player lounge at TPC Louisiana.

Awkwardly, Horschel and Matt Every – his friend and former teammate at Florida – watched highlights of the final round of the Zurich Classic. He was 278 yards away from clinching his first PGA Tour title – something he guaranteed he would do this season in an on-air interview last December – when play was suspended because of inclement weather.

Chin in his left hand, Horschel poked around on Every’s iPhone, perusing an email of his friend’s new house plans. That distraction complete, he watched the coverage and critiqued each featured shot. Of course, there wasn’t much to complain about – to that point, Horschel had made eight birdies, including a 4-footer on 16 that nudged him one shot ahead of D.A. Points.

Every so often, CBS would cut to a shot of Horschel, watching himself on the 16-inch Sony TV, but on a 22-second delay. “This is my first time on TV this year,” Every cracked.

The weather-plagued final round finally resumed at 5:27 p.m. local time. Horschel was in the left rough on the par-5 18th, with a one-shot lead, with a steady rain falling, with a pond looming to the right if he fanned his first competitive shot in nearly an hour.

An uber-agressive and confident player – more on that later – Horschel instead went the conservative route after an errant drive, laying up with a 9-iron and wedging to 27 feet. It took him but a moment to see the read on his putt. “If this is my time,” he told himself, “then this putt needs to go in.”

The putt found the bottom of the cup – his ninth birdie of the day, for a final-round, 8-under 64 and one-stroke victory at 20-under 268 – and he simply lost it.

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Video: Horschel wins Zurich in dramatic fashion

He furiously pumped his fists, the emotion of three consecutive close calls pouring out. He crouched on the green, hands behind his head, and let the roars overwhelm him. Points, now relegated to a runner-up, applauded from behind the green. As Horschel walked toward the tunnel behind 18, rain-soaked fans threw beads from the grandstands.

“What’s amazing about Billy is that the belief that he’s got in himself. It knocks out the nerves and anxiousness because he believes in himself so much,” said Chris DiMarco, a former Gator and a mentor for Horschel. “He’s that good. Every time I play with him, I don’t know how he’s not winning every week. This is just the beginning.”

This magical run started in Houston, in late March. In the same group as Lee Westwood on the final day, the 26-year-old outplayed the former world No. 1, finished in a tie for second, and then, most importantly, wrapped up his Tour card for next season. Finally, he wouldn’t have to endure the torture chamber known as Q-School. He could play free, more at ease, confidently. Now, he told his peers, it was going to be “Scary Billy.”

Next came San Antonio, where he slept on a two-shot lead after 54 holes. Final-round pressure can have a bizarre effect on players, however, and Horschel admitted to having Jell-O for legs that day. He shot 71 and never was a factor late (T-3).

Another opportunity presented itself two weeks later, in Hilton Head, but on the weekend he played the last two holes in 5 over, eventually finishing T-9.

“I’ve always felt like I was good enough to win out here,” he said. “I just felt like I had to check every box first.”

Throughout the journey Horschel has been genuine and brash, borderline cocky, a human highlight reel of emotion. It was glorious theater.

“It used to be kind of a fake confidence, but now it’s real,” Every said. “You can say that you’re confident and believe in yourself, and the stuff he’s been saying in the media might rub people the wrong way, but he really believes he’s that good.”

Followers of Horschel’s career might notice a pattern. His incredible consistency was reminiscent of his time at Florida, when he seemingly found himself inside the top 10 in every tournament he entered. When he turned pro, the start to his promising career was delayed by a wrist injury that eventually required surgery, a psyche that was too fragile.

But in those college and amateur events, Horschel learned quickly that he liked playing from behind and hunting the leader. The chase narrowed his focus; it sharpened his precision.

And that’s exactly what he faced in the final round here, where he trailed Lucas Glover by two strokes after a Saturday 66.

“This whole week,” Horschel said, “I felt like I’m going to get my first victory here.”

But when play was suspended Sunday for the first time, he found himself one under after six holes and one shot behind. Upon the restart, he ran off six birdies in a row, matching the longest streak on Tour this season, and reached 19 under par.

“He’s not afraid to go low,” said Rickie Fowler, a former Walker Cup teammate of Horschel’s. “He’s not afraid to make birdie.”

That’s fair to say – Horschel has made a Tour-best 220 this season.

None, however, proved bigger than his 27-footer on the 72nd hole, when Points was 4 feet from a playoff. Alas, after Horschel’s dramatics, it was rendered a mere footnote.

Said Fowler, “It’s about damn time. He’s too good of a player not to be out here playing and being in contention.”

Indeed, and Horschel would agree – it was well worth the wait.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.