‘I broke down and I cried’: Pro gets emotional about recent struggles
Golf is a difficult game, even if you’re a seven-time PGA Tour winner like Billy Horschel.
Returning to the Memorial Tournament as the defending champion, Horschel wasn’t able to build momentum from his win at Muirfield Village last year. He’s missed the cut six times in 15 tournaments this year, having just two top-10 finishes this season.
For someone with high expectations for himself, the 36-year-old gave an honest assessment about his season thus far.
“Yeah, the season’s been pretty bad, pretty abysmal, to tell you the truth,” Horschel said. “I haven’t driven the ball very well. It’s always been my strength. The iron play hasn’t been great. It’s been, it hasn’t been great the last couple years…I’ve been playing from spots I’m not used to. Iron play hasn’t been good and it’s been putting a lot of stress on the short game and putting to make up for all the issues with the ball striking.”
Horschel continued, becoming extremely candid about his struggles. He even described his two low points — one of which was when he broke down and cried after missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, and another when he missed the cut at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C.
“Bay Hill, after missing that cut, we had a discussion with Mark Horton, my stats guy, and Mark Fulcher, who was caddying for me,” he said. “And it was a lively discussion for about 45 minutes in the parking lot. I went back to the room — I think even before I got back to the room, just in my car, just thinking about the discussion and thinking about where the game was and where I want to be and where I’m not at the moment. I sort of just broke down a little bit. I broke down and I cried a little bit. I had tears.
“I had another one at Hilton Head after missing that cut,” Horschel continued. “I played a decent first round and was in a good position after the second, going into round 2, and didn’t play a good round. And I mean it was just an emotional, it was just a mental sort of grind and stress and fatigue. Just on the range there for about 30 seconds, just bending down, I had my hands in my head — or had my head in my hands, just sort of, just trying to hold back the tears for a little bit.”
Horschel is known for showing his passion on the golf course — mostly on the fiery side — so hearing him open up about his emotional struggles is a bit unexpected.
But he didn’t mince words as to why his struggles have led him to this point, saying it’s all driven by his passion for the game.
“This game means so much to me and I love the game of golf and I’m so passionate about it,” Horschel said. “Not just myself, but to get everyone, get other people involved and to see other people succeed. It’s just one of those things that the love I have for it, that, when you’re not getting what you want out of it sort of sucks a little bit.”
While he’s still searching for his first victory of the season, Horschel remains optimistic about what’s to come.
“We’re going to be okay. We’re going to figure it out,” he said. “I have such an amazing group of people around me that they work so hard as well and listen, and they have told me before, but I want to reward them with how well I play. I want to reward them for winning golf tournaments and letting them get recognition as well for all the hard work that they do.
“They’re behind the scenes, and they don’t want any recognition at all, but I want to give them that recognition by playing well and winning tournaments and just I’m always thankful for them. But just a little more icing on top of the cake.”
With the return to the Memorial Tournament, Horschel’s hoping that the familiar venue can provide a spark, helping him put things together that he’s been working on with his coach, Todd Anderson.
“Thankfully, Todd and I have been working hard at it, it’s sort of just been trying to put the pieces a little bit together,” he said. “We tried to make some changes in the off-season to get better and, unfortunately, it didn’t work, went back to some of the old stuff and it’s just, it’s taken a little bit longer. But I’m starting to see some life, starting to see some more quality golf shots.
“My bad golf shots aren’t nearly as bad anymore. So, yeah, its getting closer, it’s still not where I want it to be, but there’s life in the game finally.”