The Independence Day weekend is special for all Americans, and things are no different on the PGA Tour. The Tour is known for its work with military charities, and this week at the Greenbrier Classic, active and retired military personnel and their families are offered complimentary admission. Those service members in attendance might be extra proud tonight, as Navy veteran Billy Hurley III holds the lead heading into the final round.
Hurley, a 2004 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, was a seven-time winner in college, and was named the Patriot League player of the year in his senior season. However, although he was one of the top-ranked amateurs in the world, he put his dream on hold to fulfill his military commitment. For most players, five years in the service could put a damper on their game, but Hurley found a way to balance life in the service with sights on living his dream of professional golf.
Although Hurley did take three years off of professional golf when he was assigned to the destroyer USS Chung Hoon, he earned his PGA Tour card in 2011, fell $165 short of holding onto it the following year, and worked his way back through the Web.com Tour. It’s only fitting, of course, that he fired the low round of the tournament, a seven-under-par 63, on Friday, the Fourth of July.
Hurley is the only former service member currently playing on the PGA Tour, and he also bears the logo of the SEAL Legacy Foundation on his visor. He’s sure to have plenty on his mind on Saturday night, with veterans like Angel Cabrera and Steve Stricker not far off his pace, but with everything he’s done just to get here, playing golf should be a breeze on Sunday.