• Open Championship

British fans make The Open special - Horschel

Alex Perry at Royal Liverpool
July 16, 2014
Billy Horschel has been in Hoylake since Saturday getting accustomed with Royal Liverpool's fescue grass © Getty Images

It is no secret that the one all British golfers want to win is the Open Championship. It's the tournament they grew up watching; the tournament with all the history, the prestige, the tradition. The original major championship.

But what does it mean to an American like Billy Horschel?

"Like every golfer I want to win everything," he says, "but if I'm ranking them then the US Open is the one I want to win the most. Of the four majors it's the one that means the most to me, because I'm an American and I want to win my national championship in the same way the British guys want to win this one."

'I won't be happy until I have a major'

  • Ian Poulter said recently that if he doesn't win a major championship, he will still look back and be happy with what he achieved. Billy Horschel, a good friend of Poulter, finds it difficult to agree.
  • "Poults is a few years older than I am," he says, "and he's won some pretty big events as well as being the main man on several Ryder Cup teams.
  • "If I was in his position I would say the same thing, but at 27 with many more years as a professional golfer and having won only one tournament [last year's New Orleans Classic], I can't sit here and say that if it all ended today I would be happy with what I achieved.
  • "It's great because it's more than what a lot of other guys have done out here, some 20, 25 years older than me, but in terms of what I want to achieve in the game, it's nothing to write home about.
  • "If, in 10 years, a major win doesn't materialise but I gave it everything I had and decide to call it quits, I'd be happy. But if you're asking me if I would be okay with leaving the game now having won just once, then no, I would not."

Horschel holds his hands out flat and in line with one another. "Second in line, the Open Championship and the Masters are like this," he adds. "I can't give Augusta a slight edge because the Open has so much history and so much tradition around the game.

"If I win the Open this week, or in the future, I would be able to tick off the No.2 goal on my list and it would be an honour."

If you are a regular viewer of PGA Tour golf on television, your Sunday evenings will be littered with cries of "Get in the hole!" and "Mashed potato!" In Britain, it is a different breed of fan, one Horschel is keen to commend.

"I played at Muirfield last year and I've played the Walker Cup and Palmer Cup over here, and the fans just make it such a great tournament," he says.

"They have so much respect for the players and they understand what a good shot is and what a bad shot is. They're not shouting 'Great drive!' right after the ball leaves your club when it's 50 yards off line and then changing their mind to 'What an idiot!'

"British fans respect the game more and the players more. If you hit it 50 feet from the fescue [rough], they're clapping because they know what a great shot that is. The courses and the history make the Open what it is, but the fans really push it over the top."

Horschel, who missed the cut in his Open debut last year, says he is "feeling good" ahead of this week and hopes to add himself to the ever-growing list of surprise winners this tournament throws up on a more-than-regular basis.

"I'm playing really well right now, starting to trend in the right direction and hopefully there's a win nearby - and it would be special if it was this week.

"I hope I wouldn't be too much of a surprise winner this week. The reason you see so many unexpected champions here is because you just never really know what the weather is going to do, and you could get a bad draw, and you get some crazy bounces out here. You just never know what's going to happen.

"You need to be fully on your game and have a bit of Lady Luck on your side too."

Billy Horschel was talking to ESPN on behalf of his club manufacturers PING. Visit PING.com for more.

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