Family always comes first to Billy Hurley III, the Navy veteran who won his first PGA title on Sunday at the Quicken Loans National Tournament and made grown men across America cry.
His win earned him a two-year exemption in addition to invitations to the British Open, the PGA Championship, and next year’s Masters. But Hurley will skip the British Open to attend his sister’s wedding. His sister Megan is getting married in Virginia at the same time that Royal Troon is holding the British Open.
After graduating from the Naval Academy in 2004, Hurley “spent five years post-graduate in the Navy, two of them aboard a destroyer, the USS Chung-Hoon, in the Persian Gulf in a time of war.” He also reportedly won “two ship-handling awards doing his Navy stint.”
Last year, Hurley’s father, a retired police sergeant who had taught him the game, committed suicide. At last year’s Quicken Loans tournament, Hurley asked the public to help find his missing father. His dad was reportedly found at a Texas public library checking Hurley’s golf scores at a computer. Soon after, though, his dad was found dead in Virginia due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Hurley also lost his tour card last year, and, as Golf Digest noted, Hurley, who had been ranked 607 in the world, was only in the Quicken Loans tournament at Congressional in D.C. because Tiger Woods, the tournament’s host who also comes from a military family, gave him a sponsor’s exemption.
“I couldn’t think of a better tournament for my first PGA Tour win,” he said. “I’m just thrilled to have gotten it done today.
It’s been a really hard year. So it’s nice to have something go well.”
On Tuesday, Michael Greller, Justin Spieth’s caddie, approached him at the Firestone Country Club in Ohio and said, “Thanks for making us all cry.”
“I’m a little flabbergasted, I didn’t know that many people cared that much about me,” Hurley told reporters while preparing for this week’s Bridgestone Invitational. “I’ve heard from so many grown men telling me they were watching golf and crying on Sunday. I had a friend from California leave a message and he was fighting back tears the whole time. So that surprised the heck out of me.”
After Hurley’s win, Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly took time from a fishing trip in Montana to call Hurley and hell him how proud he was of him.