CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Bob Pauley first saw Billy Horschel play golf on a sunny Florida golf course more than a decade ago, he immediately knew the skinny eighth-grader would become an extraordinary player.
Horschel, who is competing at this weekend's Greenbrier Classic, now ranks among the best professional golfers worldwide. He entered the 2013 U.S. Open earlier this spring and tied for fourth place. Today, he stands fifth in the FedEx Cup Standings.
Pauley, a Kanawha County native, coached Horschel throughout high school and watched as the young man blossomed from an amateur into a world-class professional golfer.
Horschel always had heart, commitment and a drive to become the best, said Pauley, who has taught high school athletes for 35 years.
"He has worked for everything he's got," Pauley said.
According to his former coach, Horschel does not come from a wealthy family and, unlike many professional golfers, he didn't learn to play on the manicured lawns of country club golf courses.
"He's a real blue-collar kid," Pauley said. "His parents were just normal folks."
Without fancy lessons or expensive golf tours, Horschel advanced through dedication and hard work, Pauley said. According to Pauley, Horschel was always the first student to arrive at practice and the last to leave.
"It was obvious that he didn't need to be pushed," Pauley said.
That work ethic is incredibly rare, Pauley said. Many high school golfers are reluctant to practice year-round, he said. Horschel, though, devoted hours to one-on-one practices with Pauley to prepare for high school tournaments throughout the year.
"He just wants to do everything perfectly," Pauley said.
All that hard work paid off.
According to Pauley, Horschel took the Bayside High School team by storm. As a freshman, he already had assumed a leadership position, edging out talented seniors who had played on the team for four years, Pauley said.
That take-charge attitude has led some to consider Horschel arrogant, Pauley said. He disagrees, and thinks Horschel simply exudes a confidence that could be mistaken for arrogance.