Billy Horschel’s response to hearing Rory McIlroy wanted to hit him? Well …

Billy Horschel and Rory McIlroy last week at the Irish Open.

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Billy Horschel wasn’t upset with Rory McIlroy. 

In fact, he agreed. 

Horschel said he would have punched the same person. 

To begin here, yes, Horschel and McIlroy are golfers. But golfers sometimes get hot, like Horschel and McIlroy got at the 2007 Walker Cup. There, Horschel’s U.S. team defeated McIlroy’s Great Britain & Ireland squad 12.5-11.5, and Horschel defeated McIlroy twice in three matches — Horschel beat McIlroy 1-up in afternoon singles on the first day; Horschel and Rickie Fowler beat McIlroy and Jonathan Caldwell 2 and 1 in morning foursomes on day two; and later that day, McIlroy defeated Horschel 4 and 2 in afternoon singles.  

But wins and losses alone are typically not enough to want to smack someone, right? 

On a February 2021 appearance on GOLF’s Subpar podcast, Horschel offered some of the color, specifically when he almost holed a bunker shot in the foursomes match. 

“I come down like a damn cheetah, yelling at the top of my lungs, running after the ball, ‘Go in! Go in!’” Horschel said. “And it lips out. I guess [McIlroy] was pissed about that. I guess he was pissed about the day before when we played our singles matches.

“And so, the first hole [of Horschel and McIlroy’s day two singles match], [McIlroy] nukes a drive,” Horschel continued. “I mean, he hit one so far down there, he had like literally an 8-iron into the green. He hit it to 15 feet, and I had 10 feet for birdie or whatever. And he makes this eagle putt, and he gives out the biggest yell, because he’s letting me know, this s— ain’t happening anymore. This is my house today. And I was like, ‘Damn, I’m f—–.’”

Jump-ahead now 16 years. And McIlroy’s turn on Subpar. And more color. 

rory mcilroy at ryder cup
‘I absolutely despised him:’ Rory McIlroy on his former match-play enemy
By: Josh Berhow

This week, McIlroy had this exchange with co-host Colt Knost, who was also a member of the team:

“Out of these two guys,” asked Knost, “which one you wanted to punch in the face more: 2016 singles match Patrick Reed; 2007 Walker Cup Billy Horschel?”

McIlroy laughed. 

“Billy Horschel. And that’s saying something.”   

Said Knost: “Yeah, you hated Billy Horschel back then.”

Said McIlroy: “Oh, I absolutely despised him. We’ve actually become really close since, which is great. Billy in that ’07 — we were all probably obnoxious at the time, but because I was at home as well and he was like pretty rude to the crowd at times too and they are my people. It was like, ‘I’m going to beat his ass.’ But we actually have forged a really good friendship since. Billy’s a good dude. I like him a lot.”

So McIlroy told him all of this coming. 

On Thursday, GOLF’s Subpar account on the site formerly known as Twitter published a video with the Knost-McIlroy back-and-forth. Knost shared it, writing “Hahaha sorry @BillyHo_Golf.”

Which drew this response on Friday morning from Horschel, who is the playing the DP World Tour’s BMW PGA Championship this week in England:

“Rory told me about this last week @IrishOpen_ when we played together. 

“My response… I probably would have punched myself as well.”  

Editor’s note: To listen to GOLF’s Subpar podcast with McIlroy, please click below.

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at