Horschel relishes challenge of playing 36 with Woods

Billy Horschel has a two-shot lead heading into the final round. Horschel is still seeking his first PGA Tour win.
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SAN DIEGO — Billy Horschel has spent his first few years on the PGA Tour in relative obscurity, an existence marked by whether Thursday and Friday were good enough to earn a spot on Saturday and Sunday. A solo third-place finish at the True South Classic in 2012 stands as his most notable achievement.

But this weekend has the chance to be special. In sole possession of second place (-9) after 36 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open, Horschel has the opportunity to claim the spotlight as his own.

But in order to do so, Horschel needs to get past a golfer whose barometer for success isn't measured in cuts made, but by major championships won. If Horschel wants the spotlight, he'll have to defeat the man who has tasted victory at Torrey Pines seven times over the last 15 years — Tiger Woods.

A thick layer of fog forced the cancellation of Saturday's third round, meaning Horschel now had an additional 24 hours to dwell on the challenge of going head-to-head with Woods, who leads the field at 11 under par. It's a spot with which Woods is very familiar, having held at least a share of the 36-hole lead 45 times in his illustrious career.

Between a looming 36-hole showdown with Woods and a day spent waiting on a layer of fog that proved more stubborn than the United States tax code, one could assume Horschel was feeling a mounting sense of pressure, right?


"I don't think this week's any more important than any other week," Horschel said Saturday. "It's another tournament, another golf course, another round of golf. It means no more than what last week's tournament did, and it means no less than what the next tournament's going to be like."

The cancellation of Saturday's third round means that Horschel, Woods and Casey Wittenberg (-8, T3) will spend all of Sunday as a threesome looking to complete as many holes as possible before darkness brings a halt to the action. With 87 golfers still in the field, Tour officials are already preparing for a Monday finish.

As for Horschel, he's got his own plan for how to handle the closing stretch at Torrey Pines.

"I thought about going to hit balls, but I'm not going to," he said. "The swing feels good. There is no need for me to go and hit balls. I could tinker a little too much, and get too much in my own way."

Besides, Horschel will have all day to work on his game as he goes head to head with Tiger on Sunday.