HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Last Saturday, Billy Horschel painted a determined picture on the Augusta National practice tee, grinding hard on his game as a storm approached.
Horschel had missed the cut at the Masters but had remained in Augusta, Ga., and when the final groups set out for the third round he joined his swing coach, Todd Anderson, on the range in a continuing quest to find a fix for his iron play, which is normally the strongest part of his game.
The work paid off on Day 1 at the RBC Heritage, where Horschel opened with a 66, two strokes behind front-runner Rory Sabbatini.
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“We’ve been working on this for a while and just found something on Saturday [at Augusta National],” Horschel said. “My ball-striking has always been the strength of my game so this was nice.”
After starting his round with three consecutive birdies, he made the turn at 4 under and added two more at Nos. 1 and 2. A pair of late bogeys (Nos. 3 and 7) slowed his progress but he was still pleased with his start.
“You always want to get off to a fast start, but the birdies at 10 and 11, two fairly difficult holes out here, it was nice,” said Horschel, who ranked 17th in strokes gained: tee to green at Harbour Town.