In the blink of an eye, Billy Horschel called himself the top of the leaderboard on Saturday at the 2022 Memorial Championships. Continuing to keep his foot on the gas from there, the Florida producer will now enter the final round at Muirfield Village by five runs.
Starting today, Horschel hit a 36-hole single-stroke for Cameron Smith, and Hurschel started a delight, cracking on the first hole and never looking back. Handling six extra birds, Horschel’s third round of 7-under-65 is the lowest of anyone this week.
While his bird-making prowess was prevalent on Saturday, during the first 54 holes, it was his ability to avoid ghosting that caught my eye. He’s only made one foul so far—his 3 20-foot pitches on hole #1 on level 4 in Round 1—and he’s been error-free on his last 44 holes he’s played on the 11-under golf course.
Horschel arrives at the Memorial Tournament fresh after a lost cut in the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first case he missed this weekend in 2022. Disillusioned with himself, course management and the overall process, Horschel quickly corrected the mistake last week and is ready to enter the winner’s circle for the time. The first since last year’s BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour.
“Very pleased to make Fuchs [caddie Mark Fulcher] And I did, said Horschel, not just today but for the past three days. I think we’re just going through our process, making sure we have a number where we try to take the ball down, talk about the shot, the club selection, the wind. When we do that, it allows me to get a clearer picture and have a slightly higher level of acceptance on the golf shot.”
1 – Billy Horschel (-13): The 35-year-old came close to adding his seventh PGA Tour title to his resume this season after finishing second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Zurich Classic. Short on both counts, he’s now in full command of the Memorial Championship thanks to a nearly flawless 54 holes.
This is the second 54-hole lead of his career and the first since the 2014 BMW Championship. Outside of Cameron Smith, I’m not sure there’s much to worry about those behind him, and if he’s simply taking care of his own company, Horschel should be the one to shake Jack Nicklaus’ hand. Sunday.
“I just go to the tee, I understand I’m leading the championship, and I know I’ve had a lot of shots before the lead,” Horschel said regarding how to play with a five-shot margin. “Just going out, trying to play a really good round of golf. I’m not going to be defensive, I’m not going to be overly aggressive. I’m going to play the way I have for the past three days.”
The other competitors
T2. Aaron Wise and Cameron Smith (-8)
T4. Daniel Berger, Francesco Molinari and Jonathan Vegas (-7)
T7. Patrick Cantlay, Joaquin Neiman, Davis Riley, Denny McCarthy (-6)
The Sevens were excited on their last two Sundays on the PGA Tour with Justin Thomas winning the PGA Championship and Sam Burns winning the Charles Schwab Challenge. While this trend is unlikely to continue, it is very encouraging to see a player like Molinari in the top five after a game with injuries and swing changes.
“It was more difficult than I could ever have imagined, between injuries and other things getting in the way,” Molinari said. “I’ve lost my way for a while. I feel like this year there’s definitely been some improvement in the game, maybe not yet in results and results, but only until the last few weeks…I think there’s been some signs that things have been improving.”
Rory hangs in the balance
Saturdays could be McIlroy’s new Thursdays because this marks the third straight run he’s been down in. Signing 1-over 73, the Northern Irishman who started the day with just three strokes off the lead now finds himself nine behind Horschel.
“It got a little complicated,” McIlroy said. “You have to land on your points with your iron shots and you have to put them in the right way to get close opportunities. To keep the ball under the hole, so you – there are a lot of hits that are a bit defensive.”
Perhaps that was why McIlroy’s performance on Saturday was so surprising as he hits his irons beautifully and has long been known as one of the best drivers in the world. After losing more than one hit on approach and two more with racket in hand, McIlroy is left with another chance to enter the top five through the back door.
The US Presidents Cup team may slowly form
For a second, let’s feature Horschel as this week’s winner that would push him to No. 8 in the US Presidents Cup team standings. With the current top six likely to close out whether through auto qualification or not, that leaves captain Davis Love III with six choices between: Max Homa, Xander Shaveli, Hurschel, Will Zalatores, Tony Fino, Cameron Young, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
Horschel had never represented the United States as a professional and desperately wanted to be a member of the Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits. Winner of last year’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, one has to imagine he’d get a nod to Quail Hollow if his level continued. While there are certainly question marks in the list above, it is a huge problem for the American side as they will be tasked with dismantling one of the strongest international teams to date.
Updated odds and options
Here’s a look at the updated odds with one round remaining, via Caesars Sportsbook.
- Billy Horschel: 4/7
- Cameron Smith: 13/2
- Aaron Wise: 12-1
- Daniel Berger: 22-1
- Patrick Cantlay: 25-1
- Francesco Molinari: 1-30
- Joaquin Niemann: 35-1
- Jonathan Vegas: 35-1
- Davis Riley: 40-1
Sometimes sitting in the final round is more than fine, but if there’s a play to be made, it puts the juice down with Horschel. For reference, Scheffler was priced the same last week at Colonial when he went to the final round by a two-stroke difference. I’m not comparing World No. 1 to Horschel, but I’d say there’s still value at this price if you’re willing to put up with it.
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