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May 8, 2013

Billy Horschel


CHRIS REIMER:  All right, from one winner to the next.  We'll get started.  We want to welcome Billy Horschel, now a Ponte Vedra resident.  No longer a Jax Beach resident, now Ponte Vedra, just recently moved.  Fresh off a victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.  They liked you so much, you've got Zurich on your collar there.  So congratulations, and maybe some opening comments looking back at your victory.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Yeah, first off I want to thank Zurich.  We went into this partnership.  We had been talking to them for a little bit of time before I won, but I think winning their tournament and representing myself the way I did and everything, I'm looking forward to this partnership.  They do so much.  They're a global company, and I'm trying to make myself more recognized throughout the world any way I can.  So with Zurich and doing what they do and what they do for charities and everything else around the world and being a global company, I'm looking forward to being a part of that, and I know they're excited to have me.  So I think it's going to be a great team that we've got.
CHRIS REIMER:  How that's been now that you're more than 14 days into being a PGA TOUR winner?  Talk about what it's been like.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  You know, it's been crazy.  The media requests last week was quite a bit, but it's a week off and I was fine with it.  I embrace the media.  I think you guys help us out as much as we help you all, So I try to keep as many good friends in the media as possible.  So whenever there is a request, I try to meet that need any way I can, and hopefully it works into my schedule.  Obviously, if it's not, I hope they understand that it's just sometimes not everything can work out.
But, yeah, it's been crazy.¬† It's nice to finally be a PGA TOUR winner.¬† It's something that I've always wanted since I've turned pro and since I was in college.¬† I just don't want to be a one‑time TOUR winner.¬† I want to win multiple times.¬† So I'm not going to become complacent.¬† I'm still going to work hard.¬† I'm never going to just take it easy and slack off.¬† So the next thing is just keep trying to get better and hopefully the next victory is a little more around the corner than this past one.
CHRIS REINER:  Talk about coming to this event.  You qualified there with not a lot of time left to qualify.  But kind of an event in your backyard and playing in your first PLAYERS Championship?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Yeah, this means a lot.  Since I've moved over here right after college in 2009, I love this area.  I grew up and I'm born and raised in Florida.  So any tournament in Florida means a lot.  THE PLAYERS being the biggest tournament in the state of Florida and being a resident here now and so many Gator fans and Gator Nation is such a strong, strong presence in the area, it means a lot that I can finally play in this.
I've been here four years now and I've missed out on three PLAYERS, and it sort of kills me that I've missed that many.  It's nice to finally be here and walk the grounds inside the ropes and hitting golf shots instead of just walking around it and watching other people do it.  So I'm looking forward to a great week, and hopefully I can perform the way I have in the past month.

Q.  How much was the victory a culmination of the path that you've been on, and how much of it was a validation?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  I think it's both, both equally.  You know, it's a validation because I think a lot of guys from what they've come up and talked to me and everyone has been great.  I think they truly appreciate or truly mean what they say when they really are happy for me that I won.  But when they come up and say, hey, it's just a matter of time, we knew you had the game.  It just takes a little longer sometimes for other people.  So that means a lot when you hear other fellow professionals and people come to say that to you.
The hard work that I've put in, it means a lot from the time I was a little kid to where I am now.  There are so many people that have helped me out in my career, whether it be big or small, whether it be a little bit of advice or big advice, it means a lot to me that they helped me get to where I am.  All the hard work I've put in and the hours and what we all know it takes to be a PGA TOUR winner, it just validates.  It's just nice that it's finally paid off.
I'm not going to stop working, like I said, it's just going to hopefully keep skyrocketing in my opinion.  Hopefully I can keep working hard and take it to the next level.

Q.  You talked about the day before you won feeling comfortable and maybe having to come from behind.  What were you feeling and experiencing as you had that streak of six birdies in a row?  What's that like?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I just kept thinking keep trying to make birdies.¬† Let's not get in my way and trip myself up on the golf course when I was on that little run.¬† I guess I was in a little mini‑zone.¬† When I feel good with my swing and I become a little more aggressive, I still play smart but I'm not afraid to take something on a little bit more.¬† I felt good with everything the way it was.¬† I knew I needed to keep trying to put the pedal to the metal because obviously I was making birdies.¬† That means other people on the course could have been making birdies too.
I thought I had maybe possibly a bigger lead than I did.¬† I didn't know it was only one‑shot lead where I walked off 13 and D.A. made birdie and I didn't.¬† Because I knew D.A. was making birdies, but I didn't know what he was at.¬† So it was like a little mini‑zone.¬† Just trying not to get in my own way and trying not to trip myself up.

Q.¬† We talked after Q‑school and you said this was one of your goals to play in this tournament.¬† I wonder what your week usually is like this week.
BILLY HORSCHEL:  It's a little less hectic now than obviously from the win.  But this week's a little bit different.  I haven't put in the practice I wanted yet, but I've still got the rest of Wednesday to get all of that taken care of.  But usually I play nine holes on Tuesday, do some range stuff and hit some putts.  Then Wednesday just practice a little bit and do mostly putting.  So the game is just a touch off, but it's been like that.  It was like that at Hilton Head.  It was like that in Houston.  It was like that in San Antonio, and I wound up playing well.

Q.  Well, what was your PLAYERS week usually like?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Oh, what was my PLAYERS week usually like.¬† I'd come out here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, hang out with the guys on the golf course.¬† Just chit‑chat with them, hang out here for a couple hours and go back maybe over to Plantation and practice for a little bit.¬† But I didn't practice‑‑ I tried to practice when I was home, but I didn't get anything out of it, and that's probably why I played so bad the following week.

Q.  Because it was discouraging?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Just because I didn't practice, and I was sort of bummed out that I wasn't here this week.

Q.  You said some guys said it took a little longer; what do you think or why, besides the injury, of course, what do you think held you back until just recently?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I think the injury was the biggest part because I was playing some really good golf at the end of 2009, and then I knew I had a bad wrist right after Q‑school and I didn't practice at all in December.¬† I practiced a week before the Hawaii event and then I didn't play well.¬† I just couldn't put the time in that I wanted.¬† I think that was a big deal.
Then coming back, I put so much pressure on myself to start‑‑ to play well right away.¬† Seeing guys that I had played in other tournaments with win tournaments and do some great things out here, I was truly happy for them.¬† But at the same time, I was like, man, I need to get there fast.¬† They've done it.¬† I need to be there right with them.
It was more or less just putting too much pressure on myself and wanting everything to happen too fast.¬† Understanding that I just need to go through, in my mind, the process and making sure I'm doing everything I need to do.¬† Work on the right things in my game I need to work on.¬† Get my fitness back in the right‑‑ get my fitness back where I needed it to be, and then needed just a little bit of mental help from my sports psychologist, Fran, who has been helping me since last June.
I think I've just sort of checked the boxes of what it takes in my mind, not everybody else's mind, but in my mind what it takes to be a winner out here, but also to be very successful and have a great career out here.  I think I've done that, and I'm just going to keep taking that next step to trying to be a guy who is always up there on top of the leaderboard and always contending for tournaments and majors at that.
I want to be the best player in the world, and I'll do whatever it takes to try to achieve that goal.

Q.  You said the sports psychologist, you're an entertaining and emotional player out there.  How much have you had to work on that part kind of keeping it in check a little bit?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Not much.¬† He understands that's my personality.¬† I'm never going to be a flat line guy.¬† I'm always going to show emotions, so that's just something that's in my personality.¬† It's not going to change.¬† I can't change it.¬† It's like my golf swing.¬† I have an up‑tempo swing; that's not going to change, either.¬† So it's more or less just understanding when I got a little quick and I got a little ahead of myself, just ways to slow it down and be cognizant of it and understand when I am getting quick, understand that I need to slow down a little bit, give myself a little more time, and just be more aware of it is more or less what we're trying to get at.
A couple few other keys here and there, but he's been great, he really has.

Q.  Is it fair to say that you're playing the best golf you've ever played?  Results aside, I'm just talking about in terms of ball striking, putting, et cetera, and essentially what was the turning point for you to kind of get to this point whether it was on the golf course, off the golf course, whatever?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I think I was really close last year to getting to that point.¬† I think what it came down to was my wedge play being a little better and me consistently being a better putter day‑in and day‑out.¬† Everyone's going to have days where they make everything, and you're going to have days where nothing can go in the hole.¬† But you try to blend those days a little bit more together when it's a little off so you're making everything inside ten feet on a regular basis.¬† You may throw in a 15‑ or 20‑footer once or twice a round.¬† So it's more or less me and T.A., T.A. challenging me a little bit to spend more time on that and not so much time on the swing and hitting so many golf balls.
So we came up with a little routine that we do at tournaments, and then when I'm home I just work on my wedge play and doing the same putting drills on a regular basis.  The big key for me is being a better wedge player and making a few more putts a round.

Q.  Without getting too technical, what is the routine?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† Just making my practice more‑‑ getting more out of my practice.¬† Making it more of a pressure situation instead of just hitting five‑footers randomly, and hitting 15‑footers and just some wedge shots.¬† Making it where it's more of a pressure situation where I have to make X amount of putts from this range before I can go.¬† And I've got to do this drill every day and finish it before I can go home.¬† My wedge game I've got to get five or seven shots inside what we think is ten feet.¬† So it's just putting more pressure on myself so I'm in that situation on the golf course so I have something to remember or feed off saying, hey, I did this in my practice sessions, so there is no reason why I can't do it out here in this pressure‑packed situation right now.

Q.  Billy, what will it be like for you being in a showcase grouping with Ernie and Dustin?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† They're regular guys.¬† I was in one two weeks ago at Zurich with Dustin and Keegan.¬† They're great players in their own right, but I don't think I'm any different than what they are.¬† Do they have more credentials than I do?¬† Sure.¬† But I think if you think of yourself as inferior to what they are, then you're already behind the 8‑ball.¬† So I think I'm just as good as those guys.
I'm looking forward to playing with Dustin.  I played with him in college and amateur golf and Walker Cup, and Ernie is a great guy.  He's done some unbelievable things in his career with winning majors and everything.
It's going to be a fun group.  I know they're good guys.  I talked to Ernie a little bit at Zurich last week during a rain delay and we had some lunch or something.  But I'm not intimidated by them.  I'm not intimidated by the situation of me being in a feature group or being a featured pairing.  It comes with the territory of what I've done, and I think I'm ready to handle that situation.

Q.  You referenced a few minutes ago about coming here and hitting a few balls with guys when you weren't in the field.  I just wonder how difficult and what was that process like driving out of here and going to Plantation or whatever and banging balls with no gallery and no other fellow players around?  And beyond that, how much because of that and those experiences have you relished being here from those situations?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I mean, those situations and being here and being at this great tournament and how big it is and what it means if you win THE PLAYERS and you look at all the great guys that have won this tournament and being on the grounds and not being able to play, it ticked me off.¬† I was upset.¬† I didn't like it.¬† Like I said, it sort of bummed me out when I practiced.¬† I didn't practice the way I wanted.¬† I just sort of‑‑ it was a bad week of practice and I never played well the week after.
So now that I'm here, like I said, I'm very excited to finally play THE PLAYERS for the first time and be in this field with the best field in golf.  To be in front of all my family and friends and Gator Nation and trying to play the best I can this weekend, to get all the support I can, it's going to be exciting.

Q.  Those times that you did that, were you asking yourself why am I doing this to myself?  Maybe I should just stay away and not come here and just do my thing?  You knew it was going to be hard on you driving out of here.
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I can't sit at home.¬† If I'm tired, I can just hang out at the house.¬† But I wasn't tired, and I just wanted to get out.¬† And I like chit‑chatting.¬† I love talking, obviously.¬† So to come here and talk with all the guys, you know, that's what I got out of it.¬† I just came here to talk to the guys and hang out with them.¬† But at the same time I was upset that they were‑‑ I wasn't upset at them that they were in the field, I was upset at myself that I wasn't there in the field, too.¬† But I just came here to hang out.¬† DeMarco was here last year, and two good friends of mine and couple of guys that throughout the years I'd just hang out with them a little bit just to kill the time.

Q.  You're referring to the Gator Nation.  Story goes that Buddy gave you a scholarship but it was minimal, right?  What kind of burden was that on your parents and why did you make that decision versus some other college?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† You know what? ¬†It was tough.¬† I remember‑‑ oh, geez.¬† I remember Buddy calling me in November right after state finals and saying I'm going to give you a scholarship.¬† It's not much.¬† It's a book scholarship.¬† And I remember we went up for an official visit in December.¬† I can't remember if it was before the visit or after the visit.¬† I remember I committed after the visit, a couple days.¬† But I think I was talking to my parents about it, and I know they wanted me to go to Florida because obviously the reputation that Buddy had and producing good players.¬† Not even that, but just the school in general itself; it's one of the top universities in the country and the education you get is unbelievable.
But I remember talking to my parents.  They were like, well, we need to look at the situation.  It wasn't like we come from money.  I knew it was going to be tough for my parents.  Luckily enough we had Bright Futures that covered 75% of my tuition, but it was still going to be tough with all the other money and all the other expenses.  I remember my parents were sort of playing devil's advocate a little bit.  And I don't like when people play devil's advocate when I have my mind set on something.
I remember I was upset and I started crying.  I was like, man, I want to go to Florida.  It's my dream school.  And my parents are sort of like blocking me from going to it, it felt like at the time.  But that wasn't true.  They were just looking at everything that had you to look at and it all came from.  But at the same time I didn't have any other scholarships.  I had one scholarship to go to the community college in Brevard County.  I was like, I don't want to live at home.  I don't want to be in Brevard County anymore.  I love Brevard County, but I want to go out on my own and do my own thing and grow up and learn to take care of myself and everything that entitles of becoming a young adult.
So my parents sacrificed a lot, and I'm happy I'm in a situation now and the last couple weeks that I can‑‑ that I can take care of them in certain ways.¬† Vacations, if they want anything.¬† It's whatever they want, I want to take care of them any way I can because they did so much for me growing up, not just for me but both my brothers too.

Q.¬† Can you take us back to hitting the balls over the house before can you go play that par‑3 Tour, it's part of the way your dad brought you up from a competitive standpoint?¬† How important was that?
BILLY HORSCHEL:  Oh, that was cool.  There are funny stories that I had to hit it over the house, and I had to hit it over the back creek that we had which was 110 yards fly.  He said I can't take you anywhere until you hit it 110 yards in the air.  So I remember coming home.  I was maybe four or five.  I finally hit it over the creek, and I just waited outside the whole time until my dad came back from his job.  This is probably daylight savings time, so he didn't come back until the sun came down.  So it was probably 8:00, 8:30, and he was back at the house.  So I waited for him.  That is one story.
Another story is I hit it over the house the first time, and I said, okay, I'm going to hit it back over the house, and I put one through the living room window.  Ran in the house, threw my club in the garage.  Ran into my room and acted like it wasn't me.  Dad comes in and goes, did you just hit the ball through the window.  I said no, I think that was Brian.  I blamed it on my younger brother, Brian.  Obviously, he knew it was me and so obviously I got in trouble for that.
But growing up where I did and growing up how I did, I'm not a country club kid.¬† I'm blue‑collared all the way.¬† I had to work for everything I had, and that comes from my parents in the sense that they still work hard to this day, really hard.¬† The person that I am, it comes from my parents, and I think you can see that if you meet my mom or my dad.¬† So it means a lot.¬† I'm happy the way I grew up.¬† I wouldn't want to grow up any other way.
I think the way I grew up, I love it, and I would challenge other people to because I think it makes you a better than person.

Q.  How many times have you played this golf course and what are the toughest holes from your perspective?
BILLY HORSCHEL:¬† I probably played it‑‑ I've been here for four years now.¬† I've probably played it 20 times a year.¬† The problem is that the course is completely different than when we play it.¬† This is the best shape it is year round.¬† The course isn't‑‑ the greens aren't tournament speeds.¬† The rough isn't tournament‑length rough, so it's all a little bit different.
But I think the advantage I get out of it is I know where you can miss on the golf course.  The lines don't look as intimidating because I know there is more room.  So I think if you can say I have an advantage over other guys, because I don't think it's that much of an advantage, because they've played here more times than I have throughout their careers.  So it's not much of an advantage.  I guess it just makes it a little bit more comforting seeing that I've played it, the shots don't affect me as much.
What are the tough holes?¬† I don't know.¬† I don't try to think of a hole as being tough.¬† I think of holes that are a little harder to make birdies on.¬† You have to hit two really good shots to make birdie.¬† But to say a hole is really tough‑‑ I think 18 may be the toughest hole.¬† There is not much bailout room.¬† You can't hit it left, obviously.¬† If you hit it right, you're fine, but you have a long shot in.
So if there's one tough tee shot out here or one tough hole, I think it's just that one.  Also, it's a pressure situation coming down to Sunday if you have the lead.

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