From Pearl Harbor
To PGA Tour Q-School
ORLANDO, FLORIDA | The fact that Billy Hurley
III teed it up last week at the final stage of the
PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament is mind bog-
gling. Not because the odds of a professional ad-
vancing from first stage to the final stage aren’t
very good. It’s because Hurley spent the past
two-and-a-half years at sea aboard Navy ships,
replacing a golf course with a course of action.
“There’s not a whole lot of people here that
have played only five competitive rounds from
June 2007 to June 2009,” said Hurley.
This summer marked the first time Hurley
enjoyed a full year of competitive golf since
graduating from the Naval Academy in 2004 as
the most decorated player in program history.
After competing for the United
States in the 2005 Walker Cup,
everything was pointing toward
the Tour. He petitioned the
higher authorities, saying
they “could use me bet-
ter than as an officer
on a ship,” insist-
ing upon utilizing
his skill to be a
on Tour for the Navy.
But when his petition
was denied, Hurley’s
five-year tour of
more years at the Naval Academy before heading out in 2007 to finish the remainder of his
service at sea. He spent six months aboard a
cruiser and two more years on a destroyer in
places like Pearl Harbor and the Persian Gulf. A
portion of his time, however, was spent in port
where Hurley was able to break out the golf
clubs for some practice … but not right away.
“I knew enough to not show up the first day
with my clubs on my shoulder,” he said. “I went
there and did the job and got some respect as
an officer, and then I was a golfer and people
respected that, too.”
And after taking a five-year break from a
game that takes a lifetime to attempt to master,
Hurley has gained the respect of his fellow pro-
fessionals with his quick return to form, though
he admitted it took a little longer than expected.
“I had to get on the tricycle first, I’ll tell you
that much,” he said. “It took a little while longer
to come back than I thought it would. But I’m a
better player than I was in 2006.”
So, with his old career put out to sea, and a
new one setting sail, only one question re-
mains: Do the pressures of Q-School compare
to those of serving on a ship at war?
“I think that most of my peers would say that
this is probably more difficult,” Hurley said with
a smile. “I think it’s a different type of pressure.
If I let someone down this week, it’s just me,
but if you do something wrong on the ship, you
could hurt a lot of people.”
Q School’s Monday finish: