Billy Horschel left Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s first round of the RBC Heritage. Why would a tour pro abandon valuable practice time ahead of the tournament? Horschel’s wife, Brittany, was in labor with the couple’s second child.
Colbie Rae Horschel was born early Tuesday morning. Billy stayed with his family until Wednesday morning and returned to Hilton Head later that day. Call it the nappy factor if you like, but Billy Ho opened with a tidy one-under 70.
Maybe it’s a product of the fact that there’s no real off-season in professional golf that this seems to happen so frequently at PGA Tour events. In fact, Horschel himself had already faced the dilemma of “Do I play, or do I wait at the my wife’s bedside at the hospital?”
Brittany Horschel was due to give birth to the couple’s first child around the time of the 2014 Tour Championship. The couple decided that, even if Brittany went into labor, Billy shouldn’t leave the event.
The whole “playing for $10 million thing” apparently weighed heavily on her mind. “I brought up the question [of withdrawing from the tournament] She said, ‘You’re staying,” Horschel said at the time.
“I will just keep playing, because $10 million is a lot of money and I’m not going to pass that by.”
Ultimately, Horschel did win the Tour Championship and the $10 million, and Skylar was born two days later, so the couple didn’t have to face the decision. What a couple of days that was for the Horschels: Win. $10 million. First child born.
Anyway, as mentioned, Billy Horschel is the most recent in a long line of pros facing “the question,” perhaps tracing to Phil Mickelson at the 1999 U.S. Open. Lefty wore a beeper at Pinehurst this year and was prepared to leave the tournament if his wife went into labor.
More recently, in 2014 Hunter Mahan withdrew from the RBC Canadian Open, which he was leading, to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter after his third round. His daughter was born that Sunday, and Brandt Snedeker went on to win the tournament.
Sneds was all class in victory, laying out the prevailing philosophy among PGA Tour players.
“Zoe will be getting a very nice baby gift from me,” Snedeker said. “I can’t thank Kandi enough for going into labor early. I don’t know if I’d be sitting here if she hadn’t. But that is a way more important thing than a golf tournament. I missed a golf tournament when my first was born, and it was the best decision I ever made. I’m sure Hunter would say the same thing.”
In a sense, praising millionaires for attending the births of their children, even at the expense of additional millions is a back-patting for clearing a pretty low bar. However, it’s always good to see consistency between words and actions on the “family values” strong PGA Tour.