by Coachella Valley | January 8, 2015 2:55 pm
Moderator: Mark Steven PGA Tour
MARK STEVENS PGA Tour: We would like to welcome Billy Horschel we’ll open with a little intro and then we’ll open it up for questions. Thank you to the Humana Challenge ledge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation for pulling this conference call together and thank you for Billy Horschel, for taking the time to get in on the call in advance of the event. Do you want to just start off, Billy. You’re going to be making your fifth career start at the Humana Challenge. You finished T‐25 and T‐10 the year before so you’re coming off a big year in which you won the FedExCup in 2014. Just kind of talk a little bit about your thoughts coming into this year’s Humana Challenge and the start of this season.
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, I love playing the Humana event. Palm Springs and La Quinta area is such a beautiful place and it’s a beautiful time of year to be out there. So when I got out there it’s just a nice excitement to be on such a cool area, with the mountains around and the golf courses always in perfect condition. I love playing pro‐am formats. I think that’s one reason why I played there for so many years is that I love playing with amateurs and having fun out there on the golf course. So much of the year we’re just playing with other pros and sometimes it can get pretty stale out there in the group, so it’s always nice to have a fresh face with an amateur and you talk about families and what they do for work and sports and everything. So, it’s a fun event, it’s a unique event, and it’s something that I like being a part of every year.
MARK STEVENS PGA Tour: Okay. Thank you. On the amateur topic, I think you played with the eventual winner on Sunday, I believe. Is that correct?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, I did last year. Yeah. Good point to bring it up. Yeah, that was something unique to the event last year where they added I think maybe 10 amateurs were able to play on Sunday on the top‐10 amateurs. Stewart Cink and I and I cannot remember the guy who won it, but we got off to a slow start and I think Stewart and I both said when we made the turn that we could tell he still had a chance to win and we said, Hey, we need to get this guy a couple birdies and see if he can win this thing. And we did our best to try root him on and help him out and lo and behold he won the amateur portion of the event, which is pretty cool.
MARK STEVENS PGA Tour: Okay. Also one last thing and then we’ll open it up to questions. What do you think is so unique about the Humana Challenge? It’s got a great history and actually this is the 20th year anniversary of the three presidents playing together in 1995 Bill Clinton George Bush and Gerald Ford, along with Bob Hope, that’s quite the foursome, and then defending champion Scott Hoch. What do you think is so unique about not only the pro‐am format, but about President Clinton being involved, Humana Challenge, that make it’s a fun week for the players.
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, I’m a guy that I know history or like to know the history of the event or I’m somewhat of an ‐‐ I wouldn’t say a big time American history buff, but I do know quite a bit about American history and stuff that interests me. So any history I’m very interested in. So I remember watching the Bob Hope years, many years ago and watching it on TV and seeing all these unbelievable celebrities and presidents play the event.
So, it’s something that’s very unique and when President Clinton and his foundation came on and partnered with Humana to take this event to the next level, they have done a great job, unbelievable job. Changed the format, the courses, I think that they have improved the Bob Hope Classic, the old Bob Hope Classic, to something now that a lot of guys love being a part of.
With Humana being a part of it for the last several years and I think the one cool thing about Humana being a part of it is that they have these signs on I think pretty much every hole how many steps you walk or if you do this today, this is how many calories you burn or anything along those lines that promote being healthy.
That’s something that, when you walk around a par‐5, they say you take 650 steps or something and that’s something to meaning that’s unique because you never think about how many, counting how many steps you take, but obviously, they sort of tracked it a little bit and it’s just something very unique about the event that even the spectators can sort of see on every hole.
Live Call-in Questions
Q. Congratulations on last year. Last time we saw you were you hottest golfer on the planet. Or you were cliff diving in Maui. I’m not sure which it was. How do you feel coming into this season and is it possible for you to feel like a you’re still connected with that play that you had in the FedExCup that you can carry it over to the start of the year?
BILLY HORSCHEL: It’s tough to say that I’m still connected to that and to carry it over, because that was three, four months ago, almost. There’s been a lot of time off and I’ve played some golf since then and it hasn’t been anything like special golf, but the one thing you can do is you can look back on it is that you did some amazing things in September and if I can just sort of duplicate what the feeling I had or the mindset and maybe sort of understand that we had a game plan those two weeks and every week we have a game plan for every course and that if we can just sort of stick to the game plan and sort of follow that game plan, then victories could be in store. So, I’m excited about this year. I feel really confident with my game. There’s some improvements that I made in my game that I have seen at home and I’m excited to see how I can carry that over to tournament play and hopefully I can. Because if I’m able to, then I think that I’ll be a more consistent player in 2015.
That’s one of the goals is I don’t want to be this streaky ‐‐ it’s great to be a streaky player and play well four or five weeks in a row and then you sort of go away and then you come back ‐‐ but I want to be there every week. I want to be in contention every week and win.
Q. A follow‐up on something you mentioned in the changes in the format out here. Obviously, they have cut it from five days to four and four courses to three and fewer amateurs, 156 now as opposed to 384. Is there any one of those things that you can feel has really helped the tournament more or is it just the package that has made this tournament maybe a little more appealing to some guys?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I think it’s the full package. I think that President Clinton’s foundation and then Humana when they partnered up they looked at ways to improve this event. They had the Trifecta by reducing it from five days to four, because when guys are coming from Honolulu, it’s a quick little turn around to start play on Wednesday. Then to have four courses, that’s a little bit much to try and learn or try and get to every course and in a two day period before a tournament starts. And then just reducing the number of amateurs where you have two amateurs in a group and another pro where you can feel like you’re interacting more with two guys than four.
It’s tough, because you got four guys, you’re trying to make sure that you’re playing well that day, but you’re also trying to make sure they’re having a great time out there. It’s a little bit easier to take care of two guys than four.
I think that they, when they looked at how to make this tournament better, they did a great job in choosing three ways to do it and like I said, it’s a Trifecta and it’s been very successful since.
Q. Billy, you mentioned that you like playing the Humana. A lot of people from Florida don’t necessarily like playing the West Coast. Will you also be playing at Torrey Pines and Riviera and if so, what do you think about those tracks as well?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, I will be playing at Torrey. I love Torrey. I played well there last couple years ‐‐ or at least I played well on Thursday and Friday and then on the weekend haven’t finished it off.
But I will not be playing L.A. I haven’t played L.A., it’s sort of just in an unusual spot for me in the sense that the Honda Classic is the week after and then the WGC event down in Doral.
Being born and raised in Florida, I want to make sure that I’m prepared to play well in Florida. But I love playing the West Coast. It’s something about just maybe the So‐Cal flair and everything, and it’s a little bit more laid back, the weather’s always good. I like a little bit cooler weather where you sort of just put a sweater on and you don’t feel cold, you just feel it’s the perfect temperature out there.
I love playing the West Coast, even though I’m a born and raised out on the East Coast of Florida, but I do thoroughly enjoy coming out to the West Coast every year and playing a couple events out there.
Q. You were able to go out on the football field at a Gator game and be honored. And I know you’re a huge football fan. That had to be kind of a kick for you when you were here in the fall.
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, it’s not the first time that I’ve been down on the field and been lucky enough to have been honored for something I have done in the game of golf, but it’s always nice that when I do go back ‐‐ and at that time I had I won the FedExCup and they wanted to bring me on the field with the FedExCup and just show their thanks for playing well and doing the Gator chomp on 18 green in Atlanta.
So, I’m a big Gator fan. I love the University of Florida da. Without my time down there, I’m not sure if I would have, not sure where I would be right now in this world or even the game of golf at that. So, whenever I can get back to the Gainesville area and see some of my friends and my old coach Buddy Alexander and other people in that athletic department, I love getting back. It’s just a great time and I always have a sense of excitement when I enter the city limits of Gainesville.
Q. With everything that’s happened, obviously over the last year, are you able to, were you able to get back at all to your home area and I was curious how your friends reacted to everything that’s happened in the last year.
BILLY HORSCHEL: I have not been back home, let me see, since the FedExCup, I don’t think I was able to make it back home. There’s just so much going on. It’s tough to get back home. There’s always, obviously now with having a little girl now, Skyler, it’s not as easy just to go home for a day or two. But I do plan on trying to get back and usually when I go back, I go back under the radar. I just go hang out, see some family and friends that I haven’t seen in a while and enjoy my time and then I’m on to the next place wherever I have to go.
So, I don’t make it a big deal when I come home, I like to just enjoy my privacy and enjoy just spending time with the people that I want to be around when I’m home.
Q. Your name popped up after the Ryder Cup even though you weren’t involved. I think as you were the hottest player at the time. So people were kind of debating about whether they should change the selection format to select the hottest players at the time. A, do you think that would be a good idea. B, would you have accepted. And C, what do you think about the overall malaise of the U.S. team when it comes to the Ryder Cup these days?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Selection process, you know, it’s been in place for many years now and I’m not sure they’re going to change it because of the way I played or whatnot. That’s not my intention. I’m not being vocal that they need to change it because I wasn’t on the team. Obviously, there was a process in place and I didn’t meet that process and I was totally fine with it. I wasn’t upset at all.
At the same time, I would have loved to have been on the team. I think any American wants to represent their country, wants to be a part of the Ryder Cup and have a chance to win the Ryder Cup.
So, it is what it is and we’ll see what happens in two years from now, but hopefully at that time I’ll be on the team and hopefully I can do whatever it takes to help the team be victorious and win the Ryder Cup back.
Q. You said you made some improvements from last year and maybe some changes were they swing changes or what have you been working on and how do you get better from last year?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I think you got to, I wouldn’t say that they’re ‐‐ they’re changes in the sense that their little tweaks. Little tweaks to be more consistent on a regular basis and just trying to improve my short game. Short game has been one area that I can improve in by leaps and bounds. I can be more consistent on a regular basis and I think one reason I haven’t been consistent is that my technique has been a little bit off.
So, we’re just trying to improve the technique where I can be a little bit more consistent, whether it’s under pressure or whether it’s first hole of the tournament, the technique is always the same. Just looking at the whole spectrum of my game from fitness to my swing, to putting, to where I think and everything. Just thinking if there’s any little tweaks, just to be where I could maybe possibly make us a little bit more consistent.
Q. When you were going through your run last year through the FedExCup, was there one thought that you were keying on or really concentrating on or just kind of just moving through it?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Just sort of kind of moving through it. I felt good with the way I was swinging the club, I felt good with the way I was putting. And so pretty much I guess the thought that I did have was sort of stick to the game plan that my caddie Mike and my staff guy Mark and Todd Anderson, we have come up with early in the week to be successful. So, we just wanted to sort of stick to that game plan. We may have made some little changes after rounds, after we saw how maybe a hole played or the course was playing, but just sort of stuck to the game plan that we had before each round of golf and hopefully try and execute it.
If we could execute it, we felt like we had a good chance of playing well and possibly winning and lo and behold we were able to win back to back events and take the FedExCup trophy off the 18th green.
Q. With what you accomplished at the end of the year last year, how did that affect your goals going into 2015, where do the Majors play into that?
BILLY HORSCHEL: The goal setting didn’t change at all. I guess that one of the goals is just to try to be the first one to ever win back to back FedExCup cups. I know Tiger’s the only one to win FedExCups, but no one else has won back to back, so I think that would be something very special, it would be something that you could say you were the first one to do it. And obviously you’ve got a legacy right there that sort of can’t be topped at the time being.
Then the Majors, like any player, we all want to win Majors and I want to get my first Major this year. I feel like I’m making the progressions in my game, I’m getting better every year, and what and how I judge myself in the game of golf. So, I feel like if I can do the right things and keep sticking to our practice plan and what we’re doing on a daily basis, then I feel like a Major could be in store for this year.
Q. You talked about tweaking your game to be more consistent. I was wondering if the Arccos system, the company you recently signed with, does that system help you do that and if so, how?
BILLY HORSCHEL: Yeah, Arccos is great. Very fortunate that we have started a partnership together. I think that they have got the best system out there. It’s a very, it’s a three thing system. It’s a GPS tracking system, it’s a stat tracking system, and I’m drawing a blank on the third one, but it’s a very simple system where you just put a little sensor on the end of your club, you pair it with the blue tooth phone and then from there you just go out and play your normal round of golf and then you can, after each round of golf, it tells you how far you hit each club. Whether your club, whether the 7‐iron, you missed it more left or right or you’re short or long. It gives you a stat that we would get out here on the PGA TOUR on a regular tournament round of golf.
So, we are, so it’s a great system for, not just for me to try and improve my game, but for any other golfer out there that’s trying to learn more about their game. So, it is just another way for me to try to learn more about my game than what I’m doing well and see what my weaknesses are. Because when I’m home, we don’t have these Shot Link system out where I’m playing TPC or Plantation where I live. So I got my own Arccos sensors attached to my clubs, I go out there and it’s giving me the same information I would get on a regular tournament. So, it’s just helping me learn more about my game, so I can be more consistent on a daily basis.
Q. How long have you been using it? Are you using it this week and is it only for practice or are you using it in rounds as well?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I could use it in rounds as well, but I’m just going to use it in my practice rounds to get more information with certain times if the wind’s blowing a certain way one day and I hit a 7‐iron that usually goes 175, maybe it goes 162. If we play two days later in the tournament and we know the wind’s coming the same direction with the same miles per hour, and we hit the same 7‐iron, we know it’s probably going to go only 162 yards. So, that’s information that is going to be very vital in me being successful in my tournament rounds.
Q. How long have you been using it?
BILLY HORSCHEL: We just started this partnership a couple months ago. So I’ve been using it roughly since ‐‐ when did I get my first sensors? I think some time in November. I had them on my clubs at home.
Q. I’m curious, did the season end too soon for you? Are you kind of, do you wish that you had kept going while you were on such good form? How do you feel about the fact that you have had a break?
BILLY HORSCHEL: I was okay with having a break. I had won 10 million dollars, so I think I was, I was okay to take a little bit of a break at that time. But, no, I was happy, because I had played six weeks in a row, it had been along season, it had been somewhat of a frustrating season. Even though I played really well at the end it was frustrating that I wasn’t as consistent and didn’t play as well as I would have liked in 2014. But it was time for a break. I wanted to get
away from the game of golf. I wanted to enjoy the birth of our first child, my wife and I’s first child, Skyler and spend time with them. So it was a perfect time for a break. I didn’t know ‐‐ I could have played three, four more weeks and could have played really bad, who knows. But it was a perfect time for a break to enjoy everything that had happened in my life and I wasn’t disappointed that the break had come.
MARK STEVENS PGA Tour: All right. Thank you for your time, Billy. We really appreciate it. We look forward to seeing you in a couple weeks at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta and thank you to the Humana Challenge for pulling this call together.
BILLY HORSCHEL: Perfect. Thanks, guys.
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