Joy of Golf: Bill Hurley III provides golf with feel-good story

Joy Chakravarty 08:16 30/06/2016
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Bill Hurley receives his trophy from Tiger Woods.

As far as the feel-good story of the year in golf is concerned, it will be extremely hard to beat Bill Hurley III winning the Quicken Loans National.

In a tournament that aims to honour and raise funds for soldiers, Hurley’s win at the fabled Congressional Country Club in Washington was the best possible script.

The 34-year-old American, as we all know by now, is a US Naval Academy graduate and served the country for several years before achieving his dream of becoming a professional golfer.

The Quicken Loans National, hosted by Tiger Woods, an unabashed fan of the military having grown up with his soldier dad, has played a major role in Hurley’s life. It was in this tournament last year that he experienced some of the darkest days of his life.

On July 30, 2015, Hurley made an impassioned plea for the safe return of his father, who had gone missing. He was found a day later, but two weeks after the incident, Willard Hurley shot himself dead.

A former Walker Cup player and one-time world No. 6 amateur, Hurley’s game suffered and he lost his card. Then came some incredible bad luck when he played well in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals, only to miss a full membership for 2016 by a mere $394.

Playing on sponsors’ invitations and events his low category could give him a start in, Hurley continued to struggle this season, missing eight cuts in 13 starts with his best finish being tied 41st at AT&T Byron Nelson Classic. There were time he thought of quitting the sport, but for someone who had the famous dying command of James Lawrence ‘Don’t give up the ship’ drilled in him, that wasn’t an option.

It all changed last week on a golf course that is just a short drive from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he graduated from. Hurley shot 17-under par and played like a champion.

One of the best stats of his win was that he became the lowest ranked player in the world to win on the PGA Tour this season. He had started the week as world No. 607, the previous lowest was No. 513 Brian Stuard at Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

But even after the tournament, the legend of Hurley continues to grow. The win had earned him a place in the Open Championship at Royal Troon in two week’s time. Giving up on an Open spot is not the easiest thing for a professional golfer, but Hurley did just that on Wednesday, preferring to be present for his sister’s wedding which is scheduled the same week as The Open.

Bill Hurley III…truly, an Officer and a Gentleman.

RAHM’S SENSATIONAL DEBUT

Hurley hogged the entire spotlight at Congressional, but spare a though for Jon Rahm.

Enjoying pro life: Jon Rahm.

Enjoying pro life: Jon Rahm.

The Spaniard, who was the low amateur the week before at the US Open, turned pro at Quicken Loans National and showed his enormous potential once again by finishing tied third in the tournament.

Rahm, a former amateur world No. 1, had earlier played in the Waste Management Phoenix Open last year and finished tied fifth. The 21-year-old is already up to No. 285 in the world and while a dream Ryder Cup spot at Hazeltine in two month’s time would be asking for too much, he could be Europe’s star in 2018.

THE DREADED WEEK IS HERE

We are in the midst of what has been the most contentious week in the recent history of professional golf.

At one stage, June 27-July 3, 2016, was threatening to tear through the fabric of world golf. The 100th Open de France was always scheduled for this week by the European Tour, and when forced to change their calendar to accommodate Olympics, the PGA Tour pushed up the dates of WGCBridgestone Invitational to this week.

Given the importance of the French Open – France is hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup and the French Open is the biggest and oldest tournament in continental Europe – the European Tour threw a hissy fit and when all failed, they withdrew their sanctioning of the WGC event.

A lot of additional perks were given to the European Tour members who are playing in Paris, including double Ryder Cup points.

Shane Lowry, the defending WGC champion, decided to go to Akron and defend his title, but a majority of other stars have shown their support for European Tour by either playing the French Open, or missing both the tournaments.

STAT OF THE WEEK

1 – Maverick McNealy, son of Sun Microsystem founder Scott McNealy, is now the best-ranked amateur golfer in the world.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I promise you, I would have thrown a fit. I wouldn’t have hit another shot. I would have sat there.”

– Jordan Spieth when asked what he would have done if he were in Dustin Johnson’s position during the US Open rules fiasco.

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