Horschel breaks through at Zurich
And what's next for 14-year-old phenom Guan Tianlang and Tiger Woods?
Billy Horschel is the answer to a good trivia question: Who has made the most consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour? The former University of Florida golfer has made 23 in a row, but more importantly, he won his first PGA Tour event on Sunday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Horschel has been in contention often of late, and now has qualified for, among other things, the 2014 Tournament of Champions and the 2014 Masters. Our experts discuss Horschel's success, the second half of the PGA Tour season, Guan Tianglang and Tiger in this week's Monday Four-Ball.
1. What has impressed you most about Billy Horschel's recent run, including his victory Sunday at the Zurich Classic?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: The most impressive thing about Horschel is his ability to get back up after his second- and third-place finishes so recently. Most guys have a slump after they get that close to a win, but Billy got a ninth and then a win. Smart thing now is for him to take a week off and recharge those high-octane batteries he runs on.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Billy-Ho is a work in progress. He admittedly struggles with containing the proper composure and temperament on the course. For him to play this well over the past month is a testament to his willingness to fight through demons that could arrest even the most seasoned players on tour.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: His consistency. Horschel keeps making cuts and, lately, getting into contention. This was his fourth straight top-10 finish, and he had great chances to win all of them.
2. Horschel became the sixth first-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2013. We've also had veterans such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and Adam Scott win at the halfway point of the PGA Tour's regular season. How do you see the rest of the year playing out?
Collins: With the shortened season, I expect three to four more first-time winners this year, but the rest will be guys we've seen hoist trophies before. Especially as we get closer to the playoffs and guys really start worrying about having to go to Q-school and what it means this year.
Evans: The rest of the year promises to provide a good mix of veteran winners with upstarts such as Horschel getting into the winner's circle. More than anything, I believe that hot players will be rewarded for their good play, regardless of their pedigree.
Harig: It will likely be more of the same, a mixture of veterans and newcomers or first-timers picking off the hardware. It is the nature of the sport that it yields a variety of storylines.
3. Guan Tianlang made the cut in New Orleans after doing so at the Masters, all at age 14. What do you think should be next for the amateur from China?
Collins: As impressive as what he accomplished has been, Guan needs to remain an amateur for a minimum of five years. Even then, at 19, he may still be a bit young, though Kevin Na made the transition. (Na had his mom with him on tour for about five years, though.) The longer Guan stays amateur, the more successful he'll be as a pro.
Evans: Guan should go back to China and resume life as an eighth-grader and amateur golfer. He has gotten a taste of tour life, and he knows what he needs to do to make it to the elite level of the game.
Harig: After he attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open in June -- whether he makes it or not -- Guan needs to get back to being a kid. Despite his recent success -- and it is impressive to make two cuts as an amateur -- Guan is a long way away from being competitive. He needs to learn how to win, and doing that against his peers is the prudent approach.
4. Do you think Tiger Woods is making a mistake by skipping this week's Wells Fargo Championship?
Collins: Big mistake. It's easy for him to win on all these courses he dominates already. Maybe that's why he struggles at majors. Solution? Play at venues where you're not always comfortable but has had at least a little success and build from there. Two weeks on (Wells Fargo/Players), two weeks off (Byron Nelson/Colonial), play Memorial, week off, and the U.S. Open. Is that too difficult a task?
Evans: Tiger is in a good place in his game. And the only reason you enter a field if you don't really want to play is if you feel like it would give you a greater competitive edge. Charlotte loses without his star power, but Tiger will be just fine. He's in the Player's field next week, where he will get a big dose of major championship-quality pressure.
Harig: No. While it is a surprise he is not playing at Quail Hollow, a venue he likes, it is up to him. If he's not ready or motivated, there is no sense in teeing it up.
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