Needing a 2014-like run to make playoffs, Billy Horschel wishes for more playoff spots in future

Needing a 2014-like run to make playoffs, Billy Horschel wishes for more playoff spots in future
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Billy Horschel is hoping for a repeat of 2014 — when he won the FedExCup. 

Only this time, the road to the PGA Tour’s season-long title will be much more difficult. 

With two regular season events left this season, the 36-year-old Floridian is teeing it up in this week’s 3M Open, sitting 119th in the FedExCup standings. If this was years past, the top 125 would make the playoffs and Horschel would be inside the threshold. However, this year, the first playoff event was shaved from the top 125 to the top 70. 

“I sort of consciously realized I may not make the playoffs this year about a month, month and a half ago,” Horschel said Tuesday at TPC Twin Cities, “and I wasn’t going to worry about the FedExCup playoffs. As much as I want to be a part of it, as much as I love being in that arena and trying to win another FedExCup trophy, I just couldn’t stress about that anymore, I couldn’t worry about it anymore.

“I’m fortunate enough I’ve got a card for the next three or four years based off the wins I’ve had the last couple years.”

Full-field tee times from 3M Open

Horschel has two top-10s this season, the same amount he had entering the 2014 playoffs. But nine years ago, he finished the regular season 69th in the FEC standings and slipped to 82nd after missing the cut at the playoff opener in New Jersey. 

Prior to 2019, though, the playoffs consisted of four events, rather than three. Therefore, in ’14, Horschel’s season was still alive after The Barclays, and he went on to finish T-2 at the following week’s Deutsche Bank Championship. He then rattled off back-to-back victories at the BMW and Tour championships en route to claiming the FedExCup. 

Now, the seven-time Tour winner will need to string together two strong finishes just to make the playoffs. Horschel, however, is part of the reason that number of playoff spots has been slashed by 55. 

“I was a part of those (Player Advisory Council) meetings at the time,” he said, “and I was part of the top players group discussing some of these changes. I think we all thought 70 was a good number.”

But roughly a year since that decision was made, he wonders if there are enough berths at stake. 

“Looking back at it and talking with some guys, we’re thinking maybe that number needs to be a little bit more,” he said, “maybe it needs to be around 100, maybe it needs to be around 90. I don’t know if that’s been talked about at PAC meetings, I don’t know if that’s even been discussed or if there’s even a chance of that being changed next year. Knowing how the Tour works, they’re not going to change something within one year the majority of the time. They’re going to give it a little while.

“But I think it would be probably a little bit better if that number was a little bit higher.”

However, the world’s 47th-ranked player recognizes why the Tour dwindled the playoffs, even if it’s detrimental to his season, along with Justin Thomas, Shane Lowry, Gary Woodland and Adam Scott, who are also in jeopardy of having their seasons end early.

“At the same time I understand why we have 70, 50, 30,” he said. “We’ll see how it works out. But yeah, that 70 number is a lot daunting now sitting in this seat not playing good golf to where I was a year ago when I was playing really quality golf and I never worried about that at all. Yeah, it’s a little bit of a daunting task to all of us now.”

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