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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Before Billy Horschel's first-ever PGA Tour event, he attempted to downplay the adjustment necessary to make the jump from college to professional golf.

"It's just the same as my four years in college," the former UF men's golfer said. "Even though the level of play is higher, you are still playing the golf course."

However, Horschel might have underestimated the growing pains that come with a promotion to the professional ranks. This past weekend, he missed the cut in the St. Jude Classic and was eliminated after the second round with a score of 4 over par.

After a first-round score of 1 over par, he struggled with his putting in the second round as he, shooting 3 over par and missing the cut by three strokes.

Unlike Horschel, UF men's golf coach Buddy Alexander acknowledged the acclimation period the former UF golfer will experience.

"Obviously he's disappointed and I was disappointed for him, but I think it's not totally surprising," Alexander said. "That's a different level. That's a whole other ball game when you move up to play in PGA Tour events."

But if Horschel wants some inspiration, he will not have to look far. Former UF men's golfer Camilo Villegas entered the PGA Tour in 2004 and missed the cut in his first event with a score of 9 over par. Now, according to Golfweek, Villegas is the 13th best golfer in the world. Also, former Gator Brian Gay won the St. Jude Classic by five strokes.

"There is a certain learning curve and a certain comfort level that he will have to work on," Alexander said. "He will learn from this and be better the next time out."

According to Horschel's Twitter page, the next time out might come in the Fort Smith Classic. He is currently attempting to qualify for the event, which is part of the Nationwide Tour, a developmental tour for the PGA Tour.

"For the first time, it's his occupation, and he knows if he plays well and makes the cut it will lead to more exemptions and a PGA Tour card," Alexander said.

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