Billy Horschel goes low to take lead

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MADISON, Miss. — Billy Horschel was one of the few players who walked off steamy Annandale Golf Course in a good mood on Friday afternoon. While others looked haggard after broiling in Mississippi’s brutal summer weather, Horschel could have gone another 18.

Billy Horschel shot 63 in the second round of the True South Classic and leads by one stroke.  ROGELIO V. SOLIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ROGELIO V. SOLIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Billy Horschel shot 63 in the second round of the True South Classic and leads by one stroke.

“Playing the way I am,” Horschel said. “I don’t want to go home.”

It’s hard to blame him. The 25-year-old shot 9-under-par 63 in the second round of the True South Classic to take a one-stroke into the weekend at waterlogged Annandale. It was his best round on the PGA Tour.

Horschel’s performance was just two strokes shy of the course record. He played a bogey-free round and made eagle on both No. 5 and No. 18 for a 13-under 131 total. Matt Bettencourt shot 6-under 66 and is one stroke back, and Steven Bowditch had 67 and is another stroke back.

First-round leader Jason Bohn was also at 12-under through nine holes and must finish his round this morning.

Players fought the weather all day. There was a one-hour rain delay in the morning and temperatures that reached the low 90s in the afternoon. The heat index approached 105. Several caddies couldn’t finish the round while Mark Carnevale and Steve Wheatcroft withdrew because of heat exhaustion.

Horschel had an advantage over most of the field as a Florida native, but even he admitted the heat was oppressive. His spare time on the course was spent chugging at least a bottle of water or Gatorade on every hole.

“That’s the most I’ve ever sweat,” Horschel said.

He played 31 holes on Friday, finishing most of his first round in the morning after thunderstorms ended Thursday’s round early.

About half the field will have to finish the second round today. Play resumes at 8:30 a.m. ET.

For the players who could stand the heat, low scores were possible. Weeks of rainy conditions have left Annandale’s fairways soft and forgiving, and the slow greens have allowed players to be aggressive.

Players were allowed to lift, clean and place balls in the fairway during both the first and second rounds because of the wet conditions, which further aided scoring.

Defending tournament champion Chris Kirk shot 4-under 68 on Friday and is four strokes back.

“I think (the course) suits my game pretty well,” Kirk said.

“It’s reasonably forgiving off the tee and more of a second shot golf course, which is definitely my strength.”

Horschel is just 179th on the PGA money list so far this season. He’s played well in the early rounds of several tournaments this year, but said he has a bad habit of scoreboard-watching on the weekends. That’s caused him to think too much about shots and slide down the leaderboard.

So this weekend, he wants to trust his swing and quit overanalyzing shots.

“You’re going to have to make birdies out here this week to win,” Horschel said. “I’m just going to go out and play my game, and hopefully the putts fall and keep falling. If they do that, then it may be a pretty good weekend.”

LOCAL INTEREST

PATRICK REED

Augusta resident

Score 73-65

Shots back 7

WILL CLAXTON

Swainsboro, Ga.*

Score 67-DNF

Shots back 7

VAUGHN TAYLOR

Evans resident

Score 72-67

Shots back 8

KEVIN KISNER

Aiken native

Score 68-DNF

Shots back 8

SCOTT BROWN

North Augusta

Score 72-DNF

Shots back 10

BRIAN GAY

Louisville, Ga.*

Score 71-DNF

Shots back 11

BLAKE ADAMS Swainsboro, Ga.

Score 70-73

Shots back 12

* former resident

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