Feb 06, 2023
NO. 19 HORSCHEL COMMITS TO THE CLASSIC IN THE PALM BEACHES SEEKING FIRST VICTORY IN HIS HOME STATE
Billy Horschel, a true Floridian, grew up in Grant, Florida, starred at the University of Florida and now lives in Ponte Vedra Beach near Jacksonville. But he has never won one of the PGA TOUR events in his home state and that quest will bring him to the 2023 Honda Classic at the top of his game.
“There’s a lot of goals I haven’t checked off. And I’ve always wanted to win in the state of Florida, obviously more than once but before my career is over,” said Horschel, who is ranked No. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking. “I would love to win and hope it is The Classic in the Palm Beaches this year that gets me that first one.”
Horschel has long had an affinity for Palm Beach County’s PGA TOUR event which returns February 20-26 at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens.
Even though it means playing five weeks in a row, the dilemma for many TOUR pros due to the nuances of the 2023 PGA TOUR schedule, Horschel decided back in October that the Honda Classic would be on his play list. He will join a growing field that includes defending champion Sepp Straka, the No. 27-ranked player in the OWGR, No. 18 Sungjae Im, the 2020 Honda Classic champion, and former Honda champions Padraig Harrington (2015 and 2005), Michael Thompson (2013), Rory Sabbatini (2011), and Camilo Villegas (2010).
“I’ve been on TOUR for 14 years. You know, my schedule has been pretty much set for the last five or six years,” Horschel said. “I like playing a lot of the same places. I like going to places that I enjoy the course, enjoy the fans and support I get, enjoy the tournament directors and the staff that puts on the tournament.
“When I look at The Honda, I grew up 90 minutes from there. I’m born and raised in the state of Florida. My family’s been in the state of Florida for nearly 100 years now. There’s a big Florida Gator contingent down there. So there’s so many reasons why I just couldn’t have skipped this event. They have done an unbelievable job over the years of making it exceptional. As someone who’s not a young guy on TOUR anymore, I’ve come to realize I want to go to places and play tournaments I enjoy. I want to support the foundations and these tournament directors and the fans that come out to these events on a regular basis.”
Horschel also embraces the challenge of PGA National’s Champion Course, which is one of the toughest tests on the PGA TOUR.
“It requires a player who is on top of their game,” Horschel said. “You can’t fake it around PGA National. I’ve always enjoyed playing that golf course. It requires a little bit extra than other PGA Tour courses that we play.
“The Classic in the Palm Beaches is such a great event and it’s rough because it has been in a tough spot on the schedule for the last five or six years. But when I look at so many of the things on why to play a tournament and why to choose to go somewhere, the Honda Classic pretty much checks every one of those boxes.”
Horschel has seven career PGA TOUR victories including last year’s Memorial Tournament and the WGC Match Play in 2021. He also won the 2021 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on the European Tour.
The run has given him the points to emerge in the Top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
“The last couple of years have been nice,” Horschel said. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes unseen and sometimes it takes a little longer for that work to show up. But it has been nice to play a lot more consistent to a level that I expect of myself and I expect to push to the top of my game on a more regular basis. There’s a lot of goals that I still haven’t accomplished that I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“We can name 20 guys right now that have unbelievable amounts of ability that could be the number one player in the world easily. So it sort of energizes you and pushes you harder to be a part of that and try to make your own name in today’s game of golf.”