Although it's still far too early to start predicting who will be on the 2009 Walker Cup team, it is a safe bet to say, given his track record in international play, University of Florida junior Billy Horschel
will have a spot waiting for him. Horschel was undefeated in the 2007 Palmer Cup and racked up a 3-1 record in his turn with the 2007 Walker Cup team, helping the Americans to victory in both events. With the World Amateur Team Championship just over a month away, there was no doubt that he'd be on the squad.
Horschel was often put out in one of the early matches at Northern Ireland during the Walker Cup, both for his good, and the good of the team.
"Billy likes to go and he wants to go and he wants to get out there," team captain Buddy Marucci told the USGA. "For Billy, waiting around is not really a good alternative. So we wanted Billy out there first."
It was his emotions that kept Horschel from realizing his potential heading into UF.
"I wasn't anything special as a junior golfer," Horschel told the USGA. "I had the ability, I had the game. I just needed to get over the hump and prove to myself that I belonged at the same level as these other players.
"Everyone who knows me knows I'm a very emotional person, and me and Buddy have done a lot of work to try and be a little bit calmer out there," he added. "He tells me when I'm playing well; he doesn't care what I do out there because that emotion is what takes me to a low score. But when I'm not playing well, I just let too much show. I just need to be calmer when things aren't going well."
But after breaking into the Gators' starting lineup, Horschel quickly became a fixture, notching consecutive NCAA First-Team All-American honors in his freshman and sophomore year, as well as an SEC Player of the Year title (voted on by conference coaches) in 2007.
He won a pair of NCAA East Regional titles at Florida, and has been a model of consistency by placing in the top-10 in 20 events.
The one thing his career seems to lack however is a victory at an amateur major.
Horschel introduced himself to the national scene when he carded a USGA-record 11-under 60 on the first day of stroke play at the 2006 U.S. Amateur in Chaska, Minn., eventually taking medalist honors making it to the Round of 16.
He got even closer in 2007 when he tied with Wake Forest's Webb Simpson at the Azalea Invitational, only to fall in a playoff. He finished in the top-5 in three more majors that year (Northeast Am, Porter Cup and Southern Am) but couldn't get over the top.
The 2008 season was more of the same, with a third place finish at the Northeast Am and T-5th at the Porter Cup, but a major victory still eludes him.
We'll be sure keep an eye on Horschel in the coming season for that breakthrough.