Billy Horschel says his phone never rang.
But an alarm did.
“I was a little — there was a little added motivation this week,” Horschel said. “I thought I was going to get a phone call. Didn’t think it was going to be a phone call that said I made the team. But it was a phone call saying, hey, you had a great year, obviously we talked, but we’re going to go in a different direction.
“I didn’t get that phone call. I was a little upset. I was a little ticked. Gave me a little bit of fire in my butt or my arse, to be nice to really not show anything, but you know, just gave me a little fire, not that I needed it. So there was a little more added motivation this week for that.”
Apparently. In his first tournament after the news, Horschel shot rounds of 70, 65, 69, 65 and won the BMW PGA Championship, one of the European Tour’s premier events, by a shot. It follows a similar effort in 2014, when Horschel was also not picked for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, then went on to win the Tour Championship.
On Wednesday, Stricker picked Daniel Berger, Harris English, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth as his six captain’s picks. In introducing them, he said he also called “a lot of guys” to let them know they hadn’t been selected.
“I felt like they deserved hearing it from me,” Stricker said. “You know, throughout this whole process I was keeping in touch with 20 to 25 guys throughout this whole deal. I probably called another five or six guys I think just to touch base with them to let them know where we stood.
“Yeah, some were easier than others. Again, some of them were pretty difficult. The difficult part is I feel like I’m friends with a lot of these guys and to tell them that they are not part of something that they are dreaming to be a part of is pretty difficult. So all in all it went pretty good I thought, and I left the six of these guys for the end, so I could end on a high note and that part was very special.”
Still, Horschel could play next week at Whistling Straits. Stricker said he has “some extra names in the envelope” should a player be forced to withdraw due to Covid, while Brooks Koepka, an automatic pick to the team, is dealing with a left wrist injury.
“It sucks not making the team,” Horschel said on Golf Channel. “As I said all week, I didn’t play consistent enough and well enough after I won the Match Play to warrant a pick or get enough points to be an automatic selection.”