Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 4, 2014

Veteran excels on July 4 at Greenbrier Classic

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Billy Hurley is a trendsetter. The native of Leesburg, Va., was the first graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to join the PGA Tour. He has taught economics and served on a destroyer, piloting that ship once upon a time through the Suez Canal.

Friday morning, July 4th, in one of the first groups to take to the Old White Course at the Greenbrier Classic, Hurley set the pace for the day as he shot a 63 to jump to the top of the day’s early leaderboard with a 131.

Playing on Independence Day was special for the veteran.

“There’s special days of the year for our country and having served our country and being the only person playing this week who has served, only military veteran on tour, it adds something to it,” Hurley lamented.

“Fourth of July has always been a special day for me just growing up, and kind of want it means for our independence and that kind of stuff. So you know, it’s pretty cool, I guess, to shoot 7-under on the Fourth of July.”

From a young age Hurley knew what he wanted to do, where he wanted to go to college. “As an eighth, ninth grader I pretty much wanted to go to the Naval Academy. I only applied to one school, I only wanted to go to one place and fortunately I got in,” Hurley said. I just kind of fell in love with the Naval Academy and their tradition, the honor, courage, commitment, all the ideals. It was definitely the right school for me.”

Hurley graduated from the USNA in 2004 and enlisted in the Navy for the five years of service required of academy graduates. He was on the U.S.S. Gettysburg based in Mayport, Fla., for six months before moving off the ship and was allowed to become a member of the Walker Cup team in 2005. He turned pro in March 2006 while still active duty and played in eight PGA tournaments that year. At the same time Hurley petitioned the Navy to be released from active duty, as former NBA player David Robinson, and serve in the reserves. During that process, which took two years, he taught economics at Annapolis. The request was denied and in 2007 he was assigned to a destroyer, the U.S.S. Chung-Hoon for two years, being deployed twice. “I was in the Persian Gulf for a couple of months, right off the coast of China, South China Sea for a little bit. Did some stuff in the Red Sea, drove the ship through the Suez Canal, the highlight of my days on the ship, I was actually the officer of the deck, driving the ship through the Suez Canal which was awesome,” Hurley said. “In July 2009 I finished my five-year commitment and I got out of the Navy, played about a year and a half of mini tours, got Nationwide status, played a year of Nationwide. Finished 25th my first year out there, got to the PGA Tour my rookie year in 2012. Didn’t keep it. Played Web.com last year and got back here for this year.

Hurley’s sponsorship signifies his commitment to America’s defense. He wore a visor representing the SEAL Legacy Foundation.

“I kind of found myself in between equipment contracts this year and went a different direction with my logo space and bag and that kind of stuff. And the SEAL Legacy Foundation is a foundation that was created by SEALs. It’s run by SEALs, and it’s for SEALs, U.S. Navy SEALs,” Hurley said. “They do a number of different things, but they basically help active, retired and reserve or even just the former SEALs in kind of the help that they need and they like to says that SEALs are asymmetrical warfare and they do some asymmetrical stuff in the foundation side of the world.”

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