Saturday Aug. 8, 2009
Blythewood, SC – Billy Horschel of Grant, FL received a text message from his girlfriend just minutes before teeing off with a four-shot lead in the final round of the eGolf Professional Tour’s $300,000 Columbia Championship on Saturday. Apparently, the former Florida Gator star had left keys to his Jacksonville, FL condo with his girlfriend, who was in Gainesville, FL for graduation. Quite the conundrum prior to hitting your first tee shot, let alone trying to win. As it turned out, 18 holes later, Horschel would be just fine. After surviving a 10-hole start that read like a Curtis Strange U.S. Open grind, Horschel persevered for a final-round 69 to collect his first professional title in the sweltering Columbia heat.
Horschel began the final round four shots clear of playing partner Hank Kim after opening with rounds of 68-65-65, but found himself in a unique position. His college career was littered with awards, accolades and stunning performances, but in hindsight, Horschel did not win as much as most three-time, first-team All-Americans do; and in his words, he certainly didn’t lead.
"I didn’t win as much in my college career as I would have liked, and when I did win, it always seemed that I was coming from behind,” said Horschel, who was twice named the SEC’s Player of the Year. “It’s different when you’re leading because you just don’t want to mess up.”
While looking to run away and hide from the field, Horschel spent two hours on the front nine failing to mess up with nine consecutive pars. He would hit is close, but he would miss the putt. He would miss the green, but he would get up and down; frustrating to say the least.
“I knew on the front side that I wanted to get off to a good start and not make any bogeys. I had good birdie opportunities, I just didn’t make them,” said Horschel, who apparently set a number in his head prior to the round. “I wanted to be attacking today, to get to 20-under. I thought about that on the front side and wound up playing cruise control golf.”
As Horschel made pars, 2009 eGolf Tour leading money winner Scott Brown made birdies. Brown, with two wins under his belt this year, turned at 3-under 32 to get to 12-under for the event and within three of Horschel. Follow-up birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 13 took Brown from making a nice move to making a statement, and Horschel noticed.
Another former USC AIken golfer, Dane Burkhard finished 2nd at -14.