In a blink of an eye, Billy Horschel shot himself to the top of the leaderboard Saturday at the 2022 Memorial Tournament. Continuing to keep his foot on the gas from there, the Florida product will now enter the final round at Muirfield Village with a five-stroke lead.
Beginning the day two strokes off Cameron Smith’s 36-hole lead, Horschel started with a flurry, chipping in on the first hole and never looking back. Tacking on six additional birdies, Horschel’s third round of 7-under 65 marks the lowest of anyone this week.
While his birdie-making prowess was prevalent on Saturday, throughout the first 54 holes, it has been his bogey-avoiding ability which has caught my attention. He has only committed one blunder thus far – a 3-putt from 20-feet on the par-4 No. 1 hole in Round 1 – and has been mistake-free for his last 44 holes during which he has played the golf course in 11 under.
Horschel arrived at the Memorial Tournament fresh off a missed cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first instance of him missing the weekend in 2022. Disappointed with himself, his course management and his overall process, Horschel has quickly righted last week’s wrong and is primed to enter the winner’s circle for the first time since last year’s BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour.
“Very pleased with the Fooch work [caddie Mark Fulcher] and I have done, “Horschel said.” Not only today but over the last three days. I think just going through our process, making sure we have a number where we’re trying to land the ball, talking about the shot, the club selection, the wind. When we do that, it allows me to have a clearer picture and have a little bit more of a higher acceptance level over the golf shot. “
Rick Gehman and Jonathan Coachman recap Saturday’s action at the 2022 Memorial Tournament. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
1. Billy Horschel (-13): The 35-year-old has been close to adding a seventh PGA Tour title to his resume this season having finished runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Zurich Classic. Coming up just short in both instances, he is now in full command of the Memorial Tournament thanks to a near flawless 54 holes.
This is the second 54-hole lead of his career and his first since the 2014 BMW Championship. Outside of Cameron Smith, I am not sure there is too much concern regarding those behind him and if he simply takes care of his own business, Horschel should be the one shaking Jack Nicklaus’ hand Sunday.
“I just go to the tee understanding I’m leading the tournament, I know I’ve got however many shots I have ahead of the lead,” Horschel said in regards to how he will play with a five-stroke margin. “Just going out, trying to play a really good round of golf. I’m not going to be protective, I’m not going to be overly aggressive. I’m going to play the way I have the last three days.”
T2. Aaron Wise and Cameron Smith (-8)
T4. Daniel Berger, Francesco Molinari and Jhonattan Vegas (-7)
T7. Patrick Cantlay, Joaquin Niemann, Davis Riley and Denny McCarthy (-6)
Sevens have been wild the last two Sundays on the PGA Tour with Justin Thomas ‘victory at the PGA Championship and Sam Burns’ at the Charles Schwab Challenge. While it is unlikely for this trend to continue, it is extremely encouraging to see a player like Molinari in the top five after a bout with injuries and swing changes.
“It’s been harder than I ever thought it would be, between injuries and just other things that kind of got in the way,” Molinari said. “I lost my way for a while. I feel like this year there’s definitely been some improvement in the game, maybe not yet in the results and in the scores, but even just the last few weeks … I think there were some signs that things were improving. “
Rory gets stuck in neutral
Saturdays may be the new Thursdays for McIlroy as this marks the second consecutive third round in which he has fallen flat. Signing for a 1-over 73, the Northern Irishman who started the day only three strokes off the lead now finds himself nine behind Horschel.
“It’s getting a little bit tricky,” McIlroy said. “You’ve got to land it on your spots with your iron shots and you’ve got to put it in the fairway to get chances to get it close. Greens are getting fast, so having to play a little more break. It’s hard to keep the ball below the hole, so you’re – there’s a lot of putts out there that are a little bit defensive. “
Perhaps that is why McIlroy’s performance Saturday was so surprising as he was striking his irons beautifully and has long been known as one of the best drivers in the world. Losing more than a stroke on approach and two more with the putter in hand, McIlroy is left with yet another chance to enter the top five through the backdoor.
The US Presidents Cup Team may slowly be taking shape
For a second, let us project Horschel as this week’s winner which would propel him to No. 8 in the US Team standings for the Presidents Cup. With the current top six likely locked in whether through automatic qualifying or not, that leaves captain Davis Love III with six selections between: Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Horschel, Will Zalatoris, Tony Finau, Cameron Young, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
Horschel has never represented the United States as a professional and desperately wanted to be a member of the Ryder Cup Team at Whistling Straits. A winner at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play last year, one has to imagine he will get the nod for Quail Hollow if his form persists. While there are certainly question marks on the list above, it is a great problem for the United States side as they will be tasked with dismantling one of the strongest International Teams to date.
Updated odds and picks
Here’s a look at the updated odds with one round remaining, via Caesars Sportsbook.
- Billy Horschel: 4/7
- Cameron Smith: 13/2
- Aaron Wise: 12-1
- Daniel Berger: 22-1
- Patrick Cantlay: 25-1
- Francesco Molinari: 30-1
- Joaquin Niemann: 35-1
- Jhonattan Vegas: 35-1
- Davis Riley: 40-1
Sometimes it is more than fine to sit out the final round, but if there is a play to be made, it is laying the juice with Horschel. For reference, Scheffler was priced the exact same last week at Colonial when he went into the final round with a two-stroke lead. I am not comparing the world No. 1 with Horschel, but I am saying there is still value in this price if you are willing to stomach it.