The term ‘great ball striker’ is one that in my opinion is used far too often in a sport that’s all about getting the ball in the hole. But when a player hits 18 greens in any round of golf, that small ball is pounding the center of the clubface. Following his stunning second round 67 at Merion yesterday, I tip my hat and say, Billy Horschel is a great ball striker.
Horschel negotiated Merion’s notoriously treacherous links as if he was playing a Saturday morning fourball for $5, and in doing so, took a well deserved position at the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard, alongside Phil Mickelson. The duo were the only two players under par at the close of play yesterday.
Playing in his second U.S. Open, his first as a professional, Horschel may have surprised others, but not himself. Speaking to Sky Sports’ Tim Barter after his round, Horschel stated simply, “It didn’t surprise me, I’m a great ball striker”. He also quoted his victory at the Zurich Classic in April as a major source of confidence.
Horschel has worked hard on his short game this year, and while his chipping and bunker play was redundant yesterday, he displayed some excellent long putting on treacherous greens. It’s unlikely that conditions will become any more favorable over the weekend, and Horschel’s game looks more than ready for the challenge.
Should they be paired together today, the swashbuckling Mickelson and the ever-steady Horschel will offer a tremendous contrast of styles, and two very different ways of tackling Merion.