US’ Billy Horschel leads Texas Open, McIlroy in the hunt

AFP and Reuters, SAN ANTONIO, Texas

Mon, Apr 08, 2013 - Page 19

American Billy Horschel, who is seeking his first career PGA Tour victory, posted a two-under 70 to maintain a two-shot lead after the third round of the Texas Open on Saturday.

Horschel, who would also get an automatic berth into The Masters with a win in San Antonio, finished 54 holes at 10-under 206.

Horschel had to battle some windy conditions on Saturday.

“Today was a good round,” Horschel told reporters. “Obviously there was a lot of emotion going on starting the day, but I felt like I hit the ball pretty well, made some key putts, missed a couple coming in. But with this wind blowing you just have to stay patient and just try to hit every shot solid.”

“I think I did a pretty good job of that, there were a few loose ones, but all in all a good day,” he said.

Jim Furyk carded a three-under 69 to move into a tie for second place, and two-time major winner Rory McIlroy remained in the hunt by posting a one-under 71 to get into a tie for fourth.

Furyk was joined at eight-under 208 by Charley Hoffman who shot a 70.

McIlroy was tied with two others at six-under 210. That group also comprised Ryan Palmer (68) and Bob Estes (69).

McIlroy added the event to his schedule at the last minute to finetune his game for this week’s Masters.

Horschel said he is trying not to think about The Masters. The winner here receives a free pass into the first major championship of the season if they have not already qualified.

“I can’t allow those thoughts to get in my head. I can’t forget about the task at hand,” Horschel said.

“So I’m just going to do a little putting, get some dinner, go back to my room, and wake up tomorrow and focus on playing a solid day,” he said.

“If I can just play my game, play solidly and just keep doing what I’ve been doing all week I’ll be just fine,” Horschel said.

K.J. Choi (72), Padraig Harrington (70), Martin Laird (70), Jeff Overton (70) and Daniel Summerhays (73) were tied for seventh at five-under-par 211.

Despite the breezy conditions, Furyk was able to get off to a quick start with two straight birdies. He also made birdie on the par-five No. 18. It was the third consecutive round Furyk birdied the opening two holes.

“I didn’t have to scramble too much today,” Furyk said. “I got off to a great start in the wind. I was able to get through the first three holes in two-under.”

Of the top 11 players on the leaderboard, only four are in the field for The Masters.