PGA Championship 2019: The unintended equipment mistake that helped Billy Horschel off the tee

May 15, 2019
Billy Horschel tees off during the Masters.

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Everyone makes mistakes. Unless you’re hard-wired with a computer mainframe for a brain, the human element makes it impossible to be perfect, no matter how many safeguards and checks are in place. Something inevitably slips through the cracks.

Billy Horschel experienced this first-hand recently while going through the process of finding a new PXG driver build. Horschel is one of those players who almost never changes equipment once the setup is finalized prior to the start of the season.

But with his driver acting up, Horschel and coach Todd Anderson began to look at alternative options in March before settling on a PXG 0811X head with UST Mamiya’s “The Attas” shaft. The numbers checked out during testing and were verified by Horschel during the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play — to the point that he had a backup built the following week at the Valero Texas Open.

From a visual and spec standpoint, the backup driver was identical to the gamer, but for whatever reason, it outperformed the driver in Horschel’s bag at the time, prompting the former season-long FedEx Cup champion to change up the order.

Only the backup wasn’t exactly the same as the gamer.

Horschel didn’t realize it at the time, but during the build process, the driver was built at a playing length of 46.25. inches — exactly one inch longer than Horschel’s usual length.

“It can happen,” said PXG Tour rep Matt Rollins. “I don’t know if we were busy or someone was in the truck, but we missed it.”

Not only did PXG reps miss the additional length, Horschel didn’t realize the difference until recently when he was playing and rested his arm against the shaft.

“I’m used to resting it against my arm and the end of the grip coming to here,” Horschel said, indicating where his arm is normally positioned. “But instead, it felt a lot higher.”

Horschel had the club measured and, sure enough, it was longer than his usual length.

But here’s where the story takes an interesting turn. Instead of requesting a new driver at 45.25 inches (his old length), Horschel asked Rollins for another driver this week at the PGA Championship at 46.25.

That’s right, the error turned out to be a benefit for Horschel, who liked the new length and extra speed he was seeing with the club.

“In the end, it worked out,” Rollins said. “Sometimes you get lucky and it happens that way.”

If Horschel wins this week, he can thank the guys in the truck for building him a driver he never knew he needed.

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