Sam Horsfield up for challenge, thrill of pairing with Rory McIlory

VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Sam Horsfield of England selects a club during the second round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on May 25, 2018 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Sam Horsfield up for challenge, thrill of pairing with Rory McIlory

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Sam Horsfield up for challenge, thrill of pairing with Rory McIlory

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Sam Horsfield has achieved a few highs in his young life. He’s about to experience another one: he’s going to challenge Rory McIlroy for the $7 million BMW PGA Championship.

Maybe tournament organizers will use that excuse to spell the former Florida player’s name correctly. Horsfield’s caddie has carried his man’s bag for two rounds with the name “Horsefield” on his back (see image above).

The American-based Englishman returned a 5-under-par 67 to reach 9 under and sit just three shots off McIlroy’s lead. It could be more but he bogeyed the par-5, 17th hole.

“Back nine I played pretty good,” he said. “I had a little wobble around 17, but if you would have said to me at the start of the day I would finish 9 under, I would have taken it.”

Horsfield first became aware of McIlroy’s talent when the Northern Irishman had a chance to win the 2011 Masters.

“I remember sitting on my couch when Rory was doing well in the Masters seven years ago,” he revealed. “I was 13 or 14. Just the way that he played that week was pretty amazing. It’s pretty cool to be playing with him and guys like that in the same tournament.”

The two men have much in common. Both were precocious teenagers who’ve lived up to the hype.

Horsfield is on the European Tour this year because he won the Q School by eight shots. He’s made a good start to his European Tour career. The Ian Poulter protégé has two top 10s – fourth in the ISPS Handa World Super Six Perth, and second in the Tshwane Open. He’s 57th on the money list with just over $260,000 in earnings. That figure will rise considerably this week, but Horsfield isn’t thinking that far ahead.

“It’s all about learning. Every tournament I feel like I’m playing a different type of grass, different conditions. Growing up in Florida you get a lot of Bermuda grass and you don’t get as much here.

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (playing the European Tour) because it’s made me more of a rounded golfer.”

We’ll see just how rounded when he tees it up with Rory.

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