NORTH BERWICK, Scotland – Billy Horschel wasn’t surprised by the results of a recent ancestry test. Turns out nearly three-quarters of his lineage could be traced back to the British Isles. It makes sense for a man who employs an English caddie and statistician, roots for an English football club and last year picked up one of the biggest titles of his career in the same country. Horschel, the 2014 FedExCup champion, has increasingly set his sights overseas as he enters the second half of his career. The importance of overseas success was emphasized by his college coach at Florida, Buddy Alexander, and Horschel said that watching DP World Tour events in the early mornings only added to his interest. This week, he’s playing the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick. He isn’t an exception in this field, though, as the tournament is co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour. This week, 14 of the top 15 players in the world are gathered in the East Lothian region of Scotland. Horschel is one of them, having reached a career-high of 11th in the world ranking with his recent win at one of the TOUR’s three elevated invitationals, the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, as well as last year’s wins in the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and the DP World Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship. But he was one of just four Americans competing in Germany two weeks ago at the BMW International Open (the other three were members of the DP World Tour, and not the PGA TOUR). It wasn’t Horschel’s first trip to Europe this year, either. He came to England for a vacation in the weeks between the Masters and PGA Championship, attending two matches of his beloved West Ham United and playing golf with some of the friends he’s made in the country. Horschel said his family has lived in Florida for the past century, but he’s embraced the United Kingdom, as well. “I love that they can have a crack, I love the sarcasm and that British humor but they never take themselves too seriously,” he said Tuesday from The Renaissance Club, the venue for this week’s Genesis Scottish Open. “They care about what they are doing, they are very serious, but they can get away and relax.” Horschel was the first American since Arnold Palmer to win the BMW PGA Championship and finished the year ranked second in the DP World Tour Rankings behind Collin Morikawa, who became the first American to win the tour’s season-long race. The strategic alliance between the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour was strengthened this year, and the 10 PGA TOUR cards that will now be awarded to the DP World Tour’s top performers was one of the most revolutionary items announced. If the past year is any indication, however, the alliance also will increase the number of Americans competing on the DP World Tour. Will Zalatoris currently leads the DP World Tour Rankings. Justin Thomas ranks sixth and Morikawa ranks 12th. They’ve accumulated points via the major championships and World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, but they also will need to play four DP World Tour events outside the majors and World Golf Championships to be eligible for the season finale, the DP World Tour Championship. The Genesis Scottish Open is one such event. “I always had a fascination with The European Tour,” Horschel said. “I didn’t take advantage of it earlier in my career and now I’m somewhat on the back end, planning on playing another seven, eight years, and as of right now I want to be able to take advantage of that opportunity and play (the DP World Tour) and play tournaments that I’ve watched growing up.” Horschel, 35, said he will likely stop playing at some time between the age of 40 and 45, similar to his friend, Justin Leonard, who won the 1997 Open Championship and 1998 PLAYERS, but played his last full TOUR season in 2015, when he turned 43. Like Leonard, Horschel wants to be home for his kids’ events and games. Until then, a handful of DP World Tour events each year are likely to be part of his schedule. This year, he also plans to play the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, defend his title at the BMW PGA Championship and possibly play the Italian Open at next year’s Ryder Cup venue in Rome. He may have to remove the Italian Open from his schedule, however, if he makes the U.S. Team for the following week’s Presidents Cup. He is 10th in the U.S. standings. The top six after the BMW Championship will earn an automatic spot on the team, and Captain Davis Love III will round out the team with six Captain’s Picks. After playing last year’s Dunhill with his father, who quickly endeared himself in the pubs of St. Andrews, Horschel is scheduled to play this year with Mark Noble, who’s nicknamed Mr. West Ham because of his legendary tenure with the club. Horschel has rooted for the team since watching the movie “Green Street,” which features the club. West Ham’s logo is on his bag, as well. By embracing his past, Horschel has opened a new chapter in his career.
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