Journeyman Hurley secures emotional Tour victory
It took 104 career starts since turning professional in 2006 before Billy Hurley III won on the PGA Tour with a stunning victory in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club.
Hurley carded a final-round 2-under 69 to finish 17-under for the tournament, three strokes clear of Vijay Singh, who at 53 was seeking to become the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event.
Jon Rahm and Bill Haas tied for third at 13-under on a course that played the second longest among non-majors this season and has hosted three US Opens and one PGA Championship.
The US$1,242,000 win has catapulted Hurley, 34, from the fringes of the sport, a journeyman stuck at No. 607 in the world with half of his career spent in golf’s secondary tours, to the secure status of a PGA tournament champion.
After playing the Web.com Tour in three of his six years as a professional, he will be exempt on the PGA Tour through the 2018 season.
Hurley entered the tournament having missed the cut in four out of his past six events. His highest previous finish this season was tied for 41st at the Byron Nelson in May.
He’d never finished above the top-5 in a tournament before and had a reputation of being a consistent driver of the ball who lacked length, yet was a streaky putter in a game of power and a world of bombers.
“It’s been a hard year. It’s been a really hard year,” said Hurley who admitted that he and his wife had talked about retirement plans.
“It’s nice to have something go well.”
Hurley also gained a spot in the year’s final two majors, the British Open and PGA Championship, as well as a berth in next year’s Masters.
This is a classic story of a talented athlete who’s had his share of challenges, both on and off the course.
Hurley was an academic all-American. As a student, with a major in quantitative economics and a head for numbers, the US Naval Academy had him teach economics for two years following graduating in 2004.
As an officer, he served five years in the fleet, in the Persian Gulf, the Red and China Seas and Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.
Last year Hurley gave a press conference at this event to ask for help as his father, a policeman for 25 years and a golf professional for 30 years, had gone missing for nine days and concerns were had for his dad’s safety.
His father made contact, yet nine days later he took his own life in Virginia from a self-inflicted wound.
So in a tournament dedicated to honouring the military, it was fitting for Hurley to win his maiden PGA Tour title.
He’d set his phone on silent during the presentation to not be be distracted, but noticed an incoming call from Admiral Mike Mullen the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Hurley took the call.