Billy Horschel is seeing two trends converge this week after firing a 4-under 68 in Round 1 of the 2018 Valero Texas Open. Horschel is tied for second, one stroke behind leader Grayson Murray (5 under).
Horschel, who notched his first top 10 of the season last week at the RBC Heritage and comes into this tournament with a little juice, missed the cut at TPC San Antonio last year. But in the two years before that, he scored top-five finishes and didn’t shoot a single round over par on a course that normally plays pretty tough. His 68 on Thursday was his fifth such round in the last two weeks.
The former Florida Gator was splendid in Round 1 as he didn’t make a bogey on the entire day and finished in the top five in the field in strokes gained from tee to green. As was pointed out before the event, nobody rides heaters quite like Horschel rides heaters, and it’s clear he’s latched onto some of that momentum from last week at Hilton Head.
The company surrounding Horschel is pretty intriguing. Obviously leader Murray is a character, but Ryan Moore (-4), Keegan Bradley (-4), Harris English (-3), Zach Johnson (-2) and Brandt Snedeker (-2) are all in the mix as well. Last year’s Masters champion Sergio Garcia, whom Horschel played with on Thursday, shot a 2-over 74 in his first appearance at this in nearly a decade.
Horschel played TPC San Antonio on Thursday like golfers are supposed to play Augusta. He was 3 under on the four par 5s and 1 under on the rest of the course. Three more days like that, and he’ll have his second win in less than a year.
This is how it goes for streaky players, and maybe nobody is as streaky as Horschel. He missed four straight cuts last year before winning the AT&T Byron Nelson. In 2014, he missed the first FedEx Cup Playoff cut before reeling off a T2 and two wins consecutively.
So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Horschel missed five of six cuts this spring (including the Masters) before nearly winning last week and putting himself in position to do so again this week at a place he plays quite well in the Texas Open.