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Billy Horschel playing Texas Open with Masters on his mind

Feb 29, 2024; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA; Billy Horschel watches his putt roll on the 16th green during the first round of the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Horschel hasn’t missed a major championship since 2018. He’s played in nine of the past 10 Masters, with a career-best finish of T17.

But the PGA Tour veteran is facing a new reality following a rough 2022-23 season. Unless and until he plays better golf, he won’t be in any major field.

Horschel, 37, arrived at this week’s Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio at No. 80 in the Official World Golf Ranking; had he been inside the top 50 at this point, he would qualify for next week’s Masters.

The only way for him to get back to Georgia is to win the Texas Open. The winner of this week’s tournament, if not already qualified, will be the final player into the Masters field.

And Horschel is plenty aware.

“Yeah, I’m not in Augusta and my main focus this week is to win,” Horschel said Tuesday. “I think if you’re in Augusta, you’re sort of — ultimately you always want to win, but I think you’re sort of assessing where your game is, what you need to work on, some of the shots you may need to have to be able to play well at Augusta.

“So yeah, there’s two different mindsets between the players that are in Augusta and the players that aren’t in Augusta.”

Horschel made just 13 cuts in 23 starts in the 2022-23 tour season and notched three top-10 finishes. He didn’t make the FedEx Cup playoffs, leaving him on the outside looking in at the tour’s Signature Events to start 2024.

“Yeah, I’m not happy that I’m not in Augusta or any of the majors as we sit here right now, but listen, it’s my own fault,” Horschel said. “I can’t do anything about that, I didn’t play well last year, but the great thing is this game of golf gives you opportunities to correct that wrong and I’m trying the best I can right now to make up for a bad year last year and get myself back to where I feel like I deserve to be in the game of golf or I want to be in the game of golf.”

He’s begun making up for that bad year by putting together a strong March. He tied for ninth at the Cognizant Classic, tied for 12th at the Valspar Championship and rallied to a tie for seventh at last week’s Texas Children’s Houston Open with a final-round 64. So he’s already two-thirds of the way to last season’s top-10 total.

Now Horschel will play the Texas Open for the first time since 2019. He has three top-five finishes at the event in his career.

“It’s nice to be back and hopefully the success I’ve had in the past can continue to happen this week,” he said.

Horschel’s recent performances have earned him fifth place in the Aon Swing 5 standings, which determine eligibility for upcoming Signature Events. As long as he stays inside that top five, Horschel will play his way into the RBC Heritage the week after the Masters.

And Horschel sees that as the gateway he needs.

“I know I’ve had to play well this year,” Horschel said. “I haven’t played bad, I just haven’t played well enough, and to play well the last couple weeks to finally get myself in a position to be able to qualify for one of the Signature Events is huge.

“We know what those events are. We can talk about the money, we can talk about the (FedEx Cup) points, but for me it’s more or less the world ranking points, getting to play against the best players in the world and compare myself against the best players is the world is where I want to be. Get myself back up in the world rankings, get myself back into the majors.”

–Field Level Media

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