See this guy? He wants to beat you. Doesn't matter whether it's a nassau, Words With Friends or a sprint to the telephone pole and back. "When it comes to anything competitive, I'm going to do whatever I can to win," says Billy Horschel. That might sound like hyperbole, but if you've seen him play this season, you're apt to believe it. Through July, he had made the cut in 18 of 20 events on tour, including his first victory (Zurich Classic of New Orleans), second- and third-place finishes, and a memorable T-4 at the U.S. Open. "The octopus pants were unbelievable," he says of his final-round attire at the Open. Even more impressive, he hit all 18 greens in the second round. "This year is a building block," he says. "I'm not content with one win or being a decent player. I want to be the best player."
You can see determination in the way Billy Horschel practices, says Golf Digest Teaching Professional Todd Anderson. Even when his swing looks fluid and consistent, Horschel is constantly pushing himself to fine-tune it. The two met and began working together shortly before Horschel graduated from the University of Florida in 2009. A left-wrist injury that required surgery in 2010 slowed Horschel's progress as a professional, but "he's now showing what he's capable of," Anderson says.
A major reason for Horschel's great play this year is a swing that is "fundamentally solid and efficient," Anderson says. Or, as Horschel puts it, "There aren't a lot of moving parts." That's golf speak for "consistency." Most swings include extra moves that require adjustments to square the club at impact, but Horschel has more of a textbook action. He swings on a wide arc, and the club stays virtually on the same plane during the backswing and downswing. This helps the face stay square to its path—and it's a big reason Horschel rarely hits a ball way off line. (He ranks 13th on tour in total driving, a combination of distance and accuracy.) "Everything he does is working toward hitting it straight," Anderson says.
Horschel says he'll occasionally hook a shot or block one right as a result of swinging into the ball too much from the inside. Anderson says the cause is that his right arm drops too far below his left arm during the downswing, causing this excessively in-to-out approach to the ball."It doesn't happen all that often," Horschel says. "But still, I'm a perfectionist. So even when my swing is good, I want it to be perfect."