Billy Horschel is a golfer on the PGA TOUR with five career victories. He’s won at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (2013 and 2018), BMW Championship (2014), TOUR Championship (2014) and AT&T Byron Nelson (2017). A University of Florida graduate, Horschel was the FedEx Cup champion in 2014. He lives in Ponte Vedra Beach with his wife and three children.
What are you most looking forward to with THE PLAYERS in March?
Growing up and watching the tournament, I think the course is better in March. I think it’s designed to be played in March with the wind coming out of the north/northeast and dealing with the conditions. Also, I think we’re going to have more fans than we’ve had in May. When you look at the reality of it, people up north are still dealing with winter, and they’re going to want to come down to a great event like THE PLAYERS, where the weather is going to pretty good. We may have a couple cool, windy days. But for the most part, it’s going to be really good weather. So, you’re going to have those people coming down to play some golf early in the week and come watch THE PLAYERS. Not to mention, it’s spring break in many places. I just think the tournament itself is going to grow exponentially in March compared to May.
What would it mean to you to win this tournament with your ties to Ponte Vedra?
This would mean a lot to me. It’s something I’ve thought long and hard about. It’s something that I really want to win. It’s like a major to me. It really is. THE PLAYERS is obviously considered a fifth major, but to me it is a major. Having my family here, having my kids run out on the green, my parents and everyone else, there would be a big party going on for a couple of days.
What’s your involvement with Feeding Northeast Florida, and what’s the story behind Drive Out Hunger?
My wife and I have been involved with Feeding Northeast Florida for about five years now. Almost half a million people in our Northeast Florida community are food insecure. We’re not just talking about homeless people. We’re talking about people who have jobs and unfortunately with the money they have, they’re not able to meet all the means necessary. That means paying the bills is going to come first, and food comes last. We’re helping them where they’re falling short. We felt like we could play a vital part in raising awareness. We’ve donated our money, spent our time and volunteered. The Drive Out Hunger campaign has been unbelievable. For the fourth year in a row, I’m going to donate $1,000 for every birdie and $5,000 for every eagle I make during THE PLAYERS Championship. So, hopefully there a lot of birdies and eagles. With that, people can donate as well. When you look at the numbers, $1 equals six meals for people. So, if you can donate a dollar, you’re giving six meals. Donating any amount you can just goes a long way to meeting our goal at the end of day, and that is making our community food secure.
When you reflect on your career and life, is there a moment you’re most proud of?
A few moments come to mind. Graduating from the University of Florida was a big moment. Neither of my parents at the time had a college degree. So, it was really important to my parents and also myself to get a degree from the University of Florida. Another big moment was getting my TOUR card. Obviously, that was something I wanted since I was a kid. I wanted to be a professional athlete, and I didn’t know what I was going to be. But when golf was the path that was chosen, I wanted to do everything I could to get to the PGA TOUR. So, getting to the PGA TOUR, getting a PGA TOUR card in 2009 meant a lot. And then winning my first event — the Zurich Classic in 2013 — accumulated everything I had worked hard for, my parents had worked hard for and my family had worked hard for. So, it was a special moment.
What do you attribute to your success in life, and what advice do you have for kids in the community who may want to follow your path?
I think something that helped with my success, and I learned it from my parents, is hard work. You’ve gotta work hard to achieve anything. You’re not just going to be handed everything in life. It seems like people and kids nowadays, they just want to be handed a TOUR card, they just want to be handed the job. You gotta work hard, you gotta put in the time and you gotta take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and be aware of the people who are trying to help you. So, work hard and be open to taking advice from people and understand it is advice. They’re not trying to criticize you. They’re trying to make you better.