34-year-old Billy Hurley III’s first ever PGA Tour victory at Congressional this weekend is incredibly bittersweet. Sweet because his persistence and determination are inspiring, he’s a really nice guy, and he even put his dream on hold in order to serve his country as a lieutenant in the Navy.
Bitter because his biggest fan, his father, wasn’t there to celebrate in the victory, which was all but sealed up after this amazing hole-out on hole #15.
Miraculous chip on 15 helped secure the win
Hurley fended off late charges from 21 year old upstart Jon Rahm as well as PGA Tour veterans Vijay Singh and Ernie Els. It was an especially fitting victory because the event honors those who serve in the United States Military. Tiger Woods, who hosts the event, was particularly moved.
“To have a serviceman actually win the event, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Woods said. “He’s actually truly one that did serve his country, and for him to win an event that honors the military more than any other event, it’s very apropos that he did it here.”
But that’s only half the story. The personal devastation Hurley has dealt with recently is heartbreaking. Less than one year ago, while playing in the very same golf tournament, Hurley learned that his father, a police sergeant, mysteriously vanished from the family home. He’d never done anything like that before, so naturally the Hurley’s were extremely concerned. Billy broke down as he held a press conference and asked the media and viewers to help find his dad.
The plea worked – Hurley’s dad was found thousands of miles away in Texas, safe and sound. Hurley had one simple message for his father:
“I love you. We love you. Please come home.”
But, for reasons that will likely never be known, dad never came back. Tragically, about two weeks later, Billy Hurley Jr. took his own life with a self inflicted gunshot wound.
Knowing all of the emotions and thoughts Hurley must have been battling as he faced the best golfers in the world, with his family from nearby Leesburg watching on, this was truly a remarkable feat.
His dad was a really good golfer himself, playing four years in college. Many of Hurley’s childhood memories revolve around golf – whether it was riding on the cart as he tagged along with dad & his buddies, or all the lessons and tips that were passed on – it’s impossible for him to play a round of golf and not have something remind him of his dad.
They’re all good memories, too.
“I still think I had the best dad that the world’s ever known,” Billy’s brother Dan said. “My hope is that that’s the way he gets remembered, no matter how it ended.”