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When you think of modern-day golf rivalries, Rory McIlroy vs. Patrick Reed immediately comes to mind. The two have a near decade-long history of back-and-forths with McIlroy very much seen as the hero while Reed the villain.
There is another golfer, however, who sits atop McIlroy’s most-hated players list and it’s none other than Billy Horschel. The 2007 Billy Horschel, that is, because now he and McIlroy are close friends.
Without hesitation, McIlroy said Billy Horschel.
“And that’s saying something,” McIlroy said while laughing. “I absolutely despised him and we’ve actually become really close since, which is great, but I think as well we were all probably obnoxious at the time but I think he was pretty rude to the crowd at times I was like ‘they’re my people’ I was like ‘I’m going to beat his ass.'”
Young Rory McIlroy Legitimately Hated Young Billy Horschel
Horschel was 20 when he played for U.S. in the ’07 Walker Cup at Royal County Down while McIlroy was just 18 representing Great Britain & Ireland. The two squared off three times that week with Horschel getting the best of McIlroy twice, but McIlroy was able to beat the older American in a singles match.
Horschel shared a story of his own about his battle with McIlroy during the ’07 Walker Cup on a previous episode of Subpar. The former Florida Gator certainly remembers when McIlroy flipped a switch, so to speak, during one of their matches.
“And so, the first hole [of Horschel and McIlroy’s Sunday afternoon singles match], [McIlroy] nukes a drive,” Horschel said, per GOLF. “I mean, he hit one so far down there, he had like literally an 8-iron into the green. He hit it to 15 feet, and I had 10 feet for birdie or whatever. And he makes this eagle putt, and he gives out the biggest yell, because he’s letting me know, this sh-t ain’t happening anymore. This is my house today. And I was like, ‘Damn, I’m f–ked.’”
Horschel has always been a player who very much wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s never been one to shy away from putting a fan in their place, and based on McIlroy’s remembrance of this particular moment, it’s clear Horschel was the same type of player 16 years ago.