Well, this feels familiar.
It’s been seven years since Billy Horschel won the Tour Championship and took the top prize in the FedEx Cup. At the time, Ryder Cup Team Captain, Tom Watson had already made his picks for the U.S. Team and Horschel was left out. Being was the hottest player in golf at the time and because of his two playoff wins, many people felt Horschel had been robbed of his spot.
As a result two years later, PGA of America made some changes to the way golfers are chosen for tournament each year. They determined that the final Ryder Cup picks could not be made until the conclusion of the Tour Championship.
Then last week, U.S. Team Captain, Steve Stricker announced his final six picks for the 2021 Ryder Cup. Again, Horschel was not on the list. While he admitted he hasn’t been consistent throughout the season, Horschel was still expecting to be chosen for one of the remaining spots.
Passed On Again
Horschel’s wasn’t completely surprised by the sub. What was surprising — and upsetting — was that Horschel didn’t even receive a call from Stricker to tell him he wouldn’t be making the team.
“I was a little — there was a little added motivation this week,” Horschel said. “I thought I was going to get a phone call; (I) didn’t think it was going to be a phone call that said I made the team. But it was a phone call saying, ‘hey, you had a great year, obviously we talked, but we’re going to go in a different direction.’
“I didn’t get that phone call. I was a little upset. I was a little ticked. Gave me a little bit of fire, not that I needed it. So there was a little more added motivation this week for that.”
Of course, Horschel would go on to shoot rounds of 70-65-69-65 to win the European Tour’s flagship event by a stroke.
“It sucks not making the team,” Horschel said. “As I said all week, I didn’t play consistent enough and well enough after I won the Match Play to warrant a pick or get enough points to be an automatic selection.”
Stricker discussed being in touch with a couple dozen players who he viewed as top contenders for the team. Those he spoke with also included golfers who were on the bubble, but ultimately were not chosen for the Ryder Cup.
Horschel was one of those who didn’t hear from Stricker regarding the team selections.
“I felt like they deserved hearing it from me,” Stricker said. “You know, throughout this whole process, I was keeping in touch with 20 to 25 guys throughout this whole deal. I probably called another five or six guys I think just to touch base with them to let them know where we stood.”
“Yeah, some were easier than others. Again, some of them were pretty difficult. The difficult part is I feel like I’m friends with a lot of these guys and to tell them that they are not part of something that they are dreaming to be a part of is pretty difficult. So all in all it went pretty good I thought, and I left the six of these guys for the end, so I could end on a high note and that part was very special.”
Of course, we live in unpredictable times. There is a chance that a positive Covid test may force one of the players to withdraw. Brooks Koepka is also nursing a wrist injury that could prevent him from competing. In other words, it’s still possible that Horschel would be called ultimately play. We shall see what happens in Wisconsin next week.