It was a question Rory McIlroy couldn’t help but laugh at as he was asked to pick between two of his most heated match play opponents during his career – but it turned out to be an easy answer.
The four-time Major champion was asked by SubPar Podcast host Colt Knost who he’d rather have punched at the time out of the Billy Horschel he played in the 2007 Walker Cup or Patrick Reed from the 2016 Ryder Cup.
They were two of the more infamous matches McIlroy has been involved in down the years, and as the Northern Irishman laughed at the question – his answer was pretty unequivocal.
“Billy Horschel, and that’s saying something,” said a smiling McIlroy on the Golf.com Podcast. “And that is saying something.”
“Ohh, I absolutely despised him,” McIlroy added. “We’ve actually become really close since, which is great.
“But, Billy in that ’07 – we were all probably obnoxious at the time, but I think because I was at home as well and he was pretty rude to the crowd at times too and they are my people.
“It was like, ‘I’m going to beat his ass.’ But we actually have forged a really good friendship since. Billy’s a good dude. I like him a lot.”
Although almost everyone saw McIlroy’s stellar match with Reed at the 2016 Ryder Cup, there was even more venom in his meetings with Horschel – as Knost knows full well having also been on that 2007 American Walker Cup team.
Played at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, an 18-year-old McIlroy and 20-year-old Horschel faced off in three of the four matches.
Familiarity obviously bred contempt in that situation, with Horschel doing his best winding up job in front of McIlroy’s home fans as the American team won by a point.
Rory told me about this last week @IrishOpen_ when we played together. My response… I probably would have punched myself as well. 🤣🤣🤣 https://t.co/ECspOxz555September 15, 2023
Even Horschel, who has acknowledged he is an emotional player, admitted that he was maybe not the best opponent in his younger years.
He reacted to McIlroy’s answer in typical…