News & Opinion

Beneath the emotions, another victory for Horschel

We never really know what might be happening with a professional golfer when he tees it up and plays poorly.

Generally, we assume it’s just the unpredictable nature of a game that can go well one day and terribly wrong the next.

If you play or cover the game long enough, it is the only answer that can explain the crazy results.

It seemed to be an easy explanation for Billy Horschel’s lack of success in recent years.

With two playoff victories and the FedEx Cup title in 2014, Horschel displayed an emotional and exciting game in a sport that shows little outward passion.

After his victory at the Tour Championship on Sept. 14, 2014, Horschel struggled. Earlier this year, he slipped to 81st in the Official World Golf Ranking amid some middle-of-the-road results.

So, when Horschel won in a playoff over Jason Day at the AT&T Byron Nelson on Sunday, he understandably released some raw emotion. The reasons for his passionate reaction, we have come to realize, likely concerned more than merely his first tournament title in nearly three years. The next day, Horschel’s wife, Brittany, explained her husband’s emotions by disclosing on Twitter her struggles with alcoholism.

“Billy had to take on the 100% responsibility of taking care of 1½ year old daughter, moving us into our new home, competing on Tour and God only knows what else and all went through the man’s head during that time,” she wrote in her Twitter post (

It’s impossible even for Billy Horschel to know what his wife was enduring and what she continues to face as an alcoholic. At the same time, she acknowledges that she can’t understand how her husband has dealt with her disease, which afflicts an estimated 1 in 12 U.S. adults and requires lifelong vigilance.

Gary Woodland has seen his life change dramatically when he and wife Gabby lost one of two unborn twins recently.

Day pulled out of the WGC-Match Play because his mother was facing cancer surgery, he explained as tears ran down his cheeks.

Vijay Singh, Henrik Stenson and David Toms faced their own personal and professional challenges after having been defrauded in convicted swindler Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme.

Those are some of the known issues facing PGA Tour players. Many other issues remain unknown.

It’s interesting how we spend time analyzing a swing or question an equipment move in trying to explain a player’s success or failure when it could be something entirely different.

On Monday, we again were educated that the world of professional golf concerns more than the game inside the ropes. Touring pros face the same sorts of everyday issues as the rest of us.

That makes Billy Horschel’s success on the golf course and Brittany Horschel’s revelation off the course even more compelling and inspiring.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email:; Twitter: @AlexMiceli