Former Florida golfer Billy Horschel is seeking his second career top-20 U.S. Open finish this week in Pinehurst, N.C. (Ashleigh Lucas/WRUF)

Seeking Best Open Finish Since 2013, UF’s Horschel Hits Speed Bump

PINEHURST, N.C. — Billy Horschel slowed down in Round 3 of the U.S. Open, shooting a 4-over 74 Saturday at Pinehurst No. 2 and dropping into a tie for 25th place. Still, the former Gator has a chance for his best Open finish in more than a decade.

Horschel, who played for the UF golf team from 2006-09, is playing in his 12th career U.S. Open. His best finish was in his second outing in 2013, when he held a share of the lead with Phil Mickelson after the second round at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, before ultimately finishing at a tie for fourth, four strokes behind winner Justin Rose.

In his other 10 other Open appearances, the PGA Tour veteran has been cut four times — including as an amateur in 2006, while attending UF — and hasn’t finished in the top 20.

This year’s Open at Pinehurst, however, could result in a different outcome for the former Gator with a solid round Sunday. After a stellar 3-under 67 on Friday, Horschel found more of a challenge in the third round, especially on the greens and his approach shots. 

While he hit 9-of-14 fairways, 2% less than the field average, Horschel hit just seven greens in regulation which was 11% less than the field average.

Billy Horschel: “It just stinks that I didn’t play well enough today.” (Ashleigh Lucas/WRUF)

“I just didn’t play well,” Horschel said. “I didn’t hit enough greens to give myself chances to make birdies. When you’re missing greens and struggling to make pars, you’re not going to make up a lot of ground. Unfortunately, you’re going to make some bogeys doing that.” 

Horschel had six bogeys on the day, with four of them coming on the back nine — including three on the final four holes — as he was forced to contend with shots into the bunkers and wiregrass.

Thankfully for Horschel, it wasn’t all bogeys. He escaped with pars on multiple occasions and even recorded a couple of birdies to keep his score closer to even.

“When you hit it in the wiregrass, it’s sort of a crap shoot a little bit whether you get a good lie or not,” Horschel said. “I got fortunate enough that I got a couple of good lies to get away with it.”

A main area Horschel struggled with Saturday was his sand saves. He was only 2-for-6 when trying to recover in the traps. 

“My bunker game wasn’t very good today around the greens,” Horschel said. “I didn’t hit very many good bunker shots. It was just a really bad day of golf.

“It just stinks that I didn’t play well enough today [to move up the leaderboard]. Now I have no chance to win tomorrow.”

Billy Horschel bogeyed three of his last four holes Saturday to finish with a 4-over 74. (Ashleigh Lucas/WRUF)

One of the holes Horschel bogeyed was No.16. This 528-yard par 4 feature a tricky green that every ball wants to roll off of. The hole punished players all day Friday: there were 19 bogeys and four double bogeys in the third round alone.

“[The greens are] tough. You have to be precise with your iron play and put it in the right spot, “Horschel said. “My short game wasn’t very sharp either to save me.”

Horschel, the only remaining Gator in the field after UF sophomore Parker Bell missed the cut, looks to continue his resurgent 2024 with a final round similar to the one he had in this year’s PGA Championship. Horschel finished that major at 13-under par, tied for eighth with World No.1 Scottie Scheffler thanks to a 7-under 64 Sunday performance at Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky. 

“I’ve just got to go out there and play,” Horschel said. “You’re not gonna see 8-under par here tomorrow but if I can go out there and shoot 1- or 2-under par then it turns into a respectable week and maybe I can sneak into the top 15 or something.”.

Horschel is set to tee off at 11:42 a.m. ET on Sunday with playing partner Chris Kirk.

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