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September 11, 2014

Billy Horschel


THE MODERATOR:¬† First round here at the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola.¬† Our co‑leader, Billy Horschel.¬† No coincidence, I suppose, that No.1 and No.2 in the FedExCup standings are No.1 No.2 after Round 1.
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Chris and I both played a beautiful round of golf out there today.¬† I don't believe we had a bogey between us.¬† 8‑under par, no bogeys, great round.¬† Especially on this golf course, the way it's set up.
And as I was telling the guys, I'll take four more rounds of 4‑under par, bogey‑free golf.¬† And I may possibly be taking that to the bank.

Q.  I know you are expecting like next week or something.  Can you talk about how that might affect your mindset with everything else going on?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Yeah, my wife and I are due two weeks from Saturday.  Expecting our first child, a little girl.  And, I mean, on the golf course I'm not thinking about it.  We have decided that if she goes into labor while I'm playing, I will just keep playing, because $10million is a lot of money and I'm not going to pass that by.  And I'll just fly home after the round and fly back couple hours later, spend some time with them.
But right now the plan is not notify me while I'm on the golf course because I really don't‑‑ I would love to know, but sort of deviate from focus a little bit.¬† So I'll obviously get the information as I walk off 18 green if it does happen that way.

Q.  You and Chris have played going back to high school.  Is there anything that makes you guys more compatible than another partner you might have out there?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Yeah, Chris and I go back a ways to college.  I'm playing at Florida; he's playing at Georgia.  So we played a lot of rounds together.  Played the Walker Cup and Palmer Cup together.
So Chris and I are really good friends.  And we're probably two completely opposite people in the sense that he just looks like he's moving very slow and nothing affects him and I'm the complete opposite.  I look like I'm running around the golf course, and obviously literally last Sunday.
But Chris and I get along very well.  We seem to always play well when we're paired together.

Q.  What are you more nervous about, the baby coming or trying to win here this week and $10million?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  That's a great question.  I'm not too nervous about having a kid.  My wife and I are very excited.  And I'm not nervous.  I'm more anxious.  I wouldn't say I ever get really nervous.

Q.  What are you more anxious about?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I'm just anxious for it to happen.¬† I'm anxious for the baby to get here, our child to get here.¬† I'm anxious to have a chance to win $10million.¬† So it's not‑‑ they both put me the emotional level.¬† And having a chance to win $10million and our first child on the way is‑‑ it's pretty amazing, especially the time of year that it's happening.

Q.  Going back to amateur golf, professional golf, can you remember a short stretch like this where Deutsche Bank last week and now at least this first round here that you've played this kind of golf where you felt like you can go out every round and shoot a number and play this well?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Yeah, I've had a lot of stretches.¬† I feel like one of the stretches was last year in a four‑week period, four weeks in a five‑week period of Houston, San Antonio, Hilton Head and then I won Zurich.¬† And I think in those 16 rounds I think I may have shot probably 14 rounds out of 16 under par or 15 at par or better.¬† I think there may have been only one round over par.
And then I have stretches in amateur golf.  I think the 2007 summer before the Walker Cup happened I remember I had a chance to win the Northeast Amateur, I had a chance to win the Southern Amateur, chance to win the Porter Cup and Western Amateur.
I had stretches of golf where when I feel very confident, I just feel like doesn't matter how things are going that day; I'm going to find some way to put a round together.
And I think that's just something that I've always been able to do, especially when I have a lot of confidence.

Q.  What's the toughest challenge the East Lake course was presenting out there for the players?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I think today one of the toughest challenges was how far the ball was flying.  It was almost like we were back in Denver, the ball was flying ten yards further than it should have.
I was hitting 9‑irons 165yards.¬† It's so warm out there the ball's just absolutely flying out there.
I think that's the toughest thing, is figuring out your club selection.  And maybe the other guys had other issues, but I think that was the main issue that my caddie and I had.

Q.  Jim Furyk was saying that there were deceptive breezes out there as well, which saw him overhit the greens on a couple of occasions.  Would you agree with that?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Say that again.

Q.  Jim Furyk was saying there were deceptive breezes, the wind out there was deceptive at times.  Would you agree with that?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† It was.¬† It was blowing‑‑ it was blowing hard enough that it was affecting golf shots.¬† And there was times when you would think it's helping and it's coming more off the right or it may be coming off the right or off the left and it's more down.
So the breeze was a little bit of effect, but I think my caddie and I did a good job out there of figuring it out.

Q.¬† A lot of guys‑‑ everybody's talking about the key factor, the mental factor, but yet you're talking about playing some of your best golf in the stretch.¬† Obviously you're not fatigued.¬† Could you explain why you think that's the case?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I don't know.  This is my sixth week in a row.  I haven't played more than I think three events in a row this year, something I was trying out, compared to years past.
And maybe it's just the way that I take care of myself.  I try to work out and do the right things and make sure I get enough sleep and everything else.  And a little bit of it is just a little bit of the mental side of it, too.
I think that's what most guys are‑‑ maybe it's not so much the physical side; maybe it's more a mental side with some of them.
But I have no issues with that.  I'm not going to say I had issues with it in the past.  But, listen, this is the FedExCup Playoffs.  If you can't get yourself in shape and get up for it on a daily basis, then why are you playing this game, unfortunately.
It's our playoffs.  It's like the World Series or the NBA Championships and NFL Playoffs.  You have to get up for it.  It's our postseason.  And we're all tired and we all just gotta figure out how to put it out of our mind and go out and play golf.

Q.  You seem more like a hockey guy to me.  Why did you bring hockey up?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I'm not a hockey guy.  Born and raised in Florida.  Doesn't get cold enough for hockey down there.

Q.  At the risk of asking something really silly here, knowing what's at stake, the prize that's at stake, how would you compare your kind of excitement level about these last three rounds compared with going into the last day at Merion?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Say again the last part of it, last three rounds...

Q.  Excitement about the last three rounds here, compared with going into the last day at Merion?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Going into the last day at Merion, I was‑‑ I think I was more nervous and more anxious about the pants I was going to wear (laughter) to tell you the truth.¬† I think those‑‑ wearing the octopus pants that Ralph Lauren had me wear, I think I was more nervous about the reaction I was going to get.¬† Because I got a lot of comments on Twitter about those.
And it sort of helped because it took my mind away from what I could possibly accomplish that day.
So I would say I may be a little bit more excited about these three rounds because my season hasn't been great up to the last couple of weeks, and if I can play three more great rounds of golf, I could‑‑ this could possibly be‑‑ this would be the best season of my career, because obviously I win the FedExCup and win $10million.
So I'm more excited and anxious to see what's in store the next three days.

Q.  Compare between the two.  Pull the pants out for a minute.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  More nervous U.S. Open just because it was the first time I was really on a big stage like that against some top players.  So I was more nervous about that.  I wasn't unsure of myself, but I had just won Zurich a couple months ago.  So to be in a major championship myself, first major as a pro and have a chance to win, I was probably a little more anxious and a little bit more nervous about that day.

Q.  Are you more prepared for this one?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I am more prepared for this one.  I'm a year and a half older than what I was last year at that time at the U.S. Open.  I'm more mature as a player.  I understand my game a lot better.  That's due to the fact I have a great team in Todd Anderson and Mark Horton, and my caddie Micah.  Randy Myers and Jeff Fronk have done a great job getting me in shape.  My team has done a great job making me a better player.
And my main goal is to improve day to day, week‑to‑week, month‑to‑month, and year‑to‑year.¬† If I feel like I'm improving‑‑ the results may not always show, but if I feel like I'm getting better as a player, then I can at least rest easy at night that I'm going forward. ¬†It may not always be as quick as we want, but we're going forward in the right direction.

Q.  Have you and your wife talked at all about a game plan if she were to go into labor this week?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Yeah.¬† Talked about it earlier, but I'm staying here.¬† $10million is a lot of money and it can be put to a lot of good use.¬† And so we've talked about that.¬† We're just going to stay‑‑ I'm going to stay put on the golf course.¬† I'll find out after the round.¬† I won't find out on the course, because my focus may be taken away from the task at hand.
But after the round's over with, I will be flying home, spend a few hours and then flying back later that day or the next morning before the round of golf.
So, listen, Hunter Mahan did a great thing last year pulling out.¬† But I would think if he was in my position with winning, having a chance to win, roughly $10million more, if you had the TOUR Championship winner's check and everything, I think it would be maybe a no‑brainer to stay put and keep playing and go home in between rounds.

Q.  You must have a good airline partner.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Yeah, I've got Lisa Senters who lives here in Atlanta.  She takes care of me when I do fly noncommercially.  So she does a great job getting me place to place safely.  So we've got some plans worked out.

Q.  Totally on board?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  My wife is totally on board.  My wife played golf at the University of Florida.  She's a golfer.  She understands what this victory and FedExCup Playoffs and what it all means.
I've probably got the greatest wife out here, in my mind.¬† Just the way she understands what it takes to be a great golfer and the time restraints and everything.¬† She's never‑‑ like I said, she's a golfer, so she understands what it takes to be great.
And like I said, she was on board with it.¬† There was no‑‑ there wasn't much discussion.¬† I brought up the question.¬† She said:¬† You're staying.¬† We both‑‑ that I'm staying and we'll just come back after the round and spend a few hours.

Q.  Yesterday there was a bit of a flap about some comments that Rory McIlroy made about Phil and Tiger.  I only bring this up to you because I think you'd be at least honest in assessing it.  Do you think there was anything wrong with what he said, first of all?  I know you obviously know what it is.  And, second, do you think that you need to apologize for saying stuff like that?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I don't think he said anything wrong.  I think it may have been maybe misconstrued in what he was saying.  But, I mean, just look at the history of golf.  When guys get to their 40s, it's always been a struggle for them to keep maintaining a high level active golf, especially if they play in their 30s.  But I think Tiger and Phil are completely two different golfers than what history shows.
I think they're more like a Vijay Singh in what he did in his 40s, but I think unfortunately they had a bad year.  Obviously Tiger has not been healthy the past couple of years.  And I think when he gets his health back and he's in great shape, I still think he's the most talented player that we have in this game.
I still think he's the No.1 player in the world.  Whether he's ranked that or not.  I still think Rory's right up there with Tiger, but I think Tiger's got him beat.  And Phil's Phil.  I think you see him play great for a period of time and then he goes away and struggles and he comes back and plays great.  So I don't think there was anything wrong with his comments in saying that they may be on their last leg or last nine holes.
But at the same time I think they're starting the journey of their last nine holes.  They're not on 16 or 17.  They're teeing off on No.10.  They've still got nine holes left to place.

Q.  Never knew you to be a diplomat like that.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I try to be smart at certain times.

Q.  Can you flip your cap on after a good round?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I flip it after bad rounds.  I do it because I wear my hat real low and sometimes I just want people to see my face after a round at the same time I want people to understand that putting a hat on backwards doesn't mean anything bad.  It's just a different look.  It's not like I'm throwing up a gang sign or anything like that just the hat goes on backwards I still have PING on the back of the hat they get coverage of it.  It's a look I'm trying to show people, listen, it's on backwards, I'm not playing like that.
I would love‑‑ I talk about maybe playing a round of golf with my hat on backwards, I would obviously get fined by the PGA TOUR.¬† But it would be a style that showing kids that you can have fun and as long as you're respecting the game and as long as your look is okay you can still be unique and be different and just having the hat on backwards is no different than that.

Q.  Do you know you would be fined?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Yes.  I don't know I'd be fined but I've asked before about wearing my hat on backwards and I think I was told that there possibly could be a fine.
It would be unbecoming of a professional, the conduct unbecoming a professional.  And the reason I say that is because no one else has done it before that I know of.  The only guy I know is an English guy named John Morgan would wear his hat backwards.  And I'm not sure if he got in trouble.
But I'm shocked that maybe Rickie Fowler hasn't done it with the way he looks and everything.  But, listen, it's something that I've talked about and it's something that I could possibly do in the next couple of years just as a different look, just to show kids you can have fun as long as you're respecting the game and you're not doing anything bad, the hat backwards doesn't mean anything bad.
It's just a look.  It's no different than just part having his hat up like that for years and years.  It's my take on it.  If I happened to get fined by the PGA TOUR, it would be the best fine I ever paid.

Q.  You could afford the fine if you win this week?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Yeah, I could afford the fine if I won this week.

Q.  Would you tell us if you get fined?  Because they won't.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I would come out and tell you if I got fined with wearing my hat on backwards.  I'll be honest with you.  Whether the PGA TOUR may like that, I don't know.  But I'm not afraid to release certain information if it's not going to harm me in any way.

Q.  How would you say that the disparity was and the emotional level on the golf course between you and Chris Kirk?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Man, he's probably a flat‑line guy and I'm up‑and‑down the whole round of golf type of deal.¬† He looks like he's a Fred Couples walking slow and nothing affects him.
And I think I walk slow, but as I've seen on the coverage last week, looks like I'm sprinting around the greens and the golf course.  When I feel like I'm walking slow.  The emotional level is a little bit different.

Q.  What would look odder:  You acting like him or him acting like you?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I think him acting like me.  I think that would look really weird to see him look like he was walking really quick and showing a lot of emotion.

Q.  Do you have any idea what the fine would be, since I think you have some experience?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I mean, value‑wise?

Q.  Yeah.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I mean, you guys are smart enough to know what our fines are, you know what guys have been fined.

Q.¬† Secondly, do you‑‑
BILLY HORSCHEL:  That's a diplomat right there for you.

Q.¬† Do you think that you‑‑ no matter what happens past today, do you think you and Chris have made a statement to Watson?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† No, I mean, like I said last week, I don't feel like I deserve to be on this team.¬† Even if I would have won Deutsche Bank, even if I got‑‑ even if the picks were after BMW.¬† Two weeks doesn't mean you should be on a Ryder Cup.¬† It may mean you may be the hottest player, but doesn't mean you've played a good enough year to be on the team.
Tom Watson sent me a text the other night.¬† It's exactly what I thought it was going to be, just sort of said "where was this sooner" type deal.¬† And I said‑‑ people said does Tom Watson think he's kicking himself.¬† I said, no, he's not kicking himself.¬† He's going to kick me for not playing better sooner type deal.
The Ryder Cup is so far out of my mind I'm not even thinking about it.  I forgot about it after Deutsche Bank.  And the way I played is not, there's no chip on my shoulder for not being picked, because like I said I've said all along I don't feel like I played a great enough year to be on this team.  And there's plenty more Ryder Cups to be on, and I will take this experience I learned this year how to deal with trying to qualify for a team.

Q.  Even if you win the FedExCup, do you still feel that way?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Yeah.¬† I would love to be on the team.¬† I think I can bring a lot of‑‑ I think I can bring something to the team that the team may have been missing the last couple of years.
I don't know what that would be.  But it's just something I believe I have in myself that I can make teams better if I was on them.
But at the same time, I don't feel like I played well enough for the year to be deserving of a pick of a Ryder Cup.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

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