Billy Horschel’s 2014 is the perfect example of how quickly things can turn around in golf. Heading into September, he had only recorded two top 10s and looked like he’d struggle to match an encouraging 2013 where he’d earned his maiden PGA Tour victory, notched a tied-4th at the US Open and finished 16th in the FedEx Cup. Three weeks later he was the FedEx Cup Champion and $13.5 million richer thanks to a runners-up finish and two wins in the final three Play-Off events.
It’s fair to say his year has been a steep learning curve with a very happy ending. Here, he exclusively tells Golf World the big lessons he learned from his incredible journey in 2014.
1. The value of patience
Overall, 2014 was a weird year for me. It obviously ended well when I won the BMW Championship, the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, but for the first few months I was struggling more than a bit. That was disappointing because I had played so well in 2013. But I knew I was working on the right things. I knew I was doing all the things you need to do to get better. It just took time for them to show up in my results on the course. So I had to be patient – and I like to think I was.
2. You have to putt well
The biggest reason behind my early season frustrations this year was my poor putting. I felt good about what my coach, Todd Anderson, and I were doing on the range. But because I wasn’t making the putts you need to make to do well at tour level, any advances tee-to-green took a while to be obvious. Things really turned around when Todd made a change to my grip just before the second play-off event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, where I finished tied for second. Then, of course, I won in each of the next two weeks. All because I was making birdie putts from 10-20 feet.
3. The majors are different
Like almost everyone else on tour, I try to approach the major championships in the same way I do regular tour events. Physically that’s fine, but mentally it is a very difficult thing to achieve. Like it or not, the four biggest events in the game are special and it’s hard not to think about that fact in the lead-up to each one. Having said that, my preparation for all four is the same as any other week in as much as Todd and I come up with a plan of how I am going to play and the shots I am going to need. Inside, I still know they are different though.