Hurley, Tryon advance to Q-School finals
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. – Sixteen months ago, Billy Hurley III was aboard a cruiser ship in Singapore. He was on the front lines defending Iraq’s oil platform in the Persian Gulf. He was guiding a ship through the Suez Canal.
So trying to advance to the finals of PGA Tour Q-School? Apparently, it’s simpler than some military cadence.
Hurley shot a final-round 67 Saturday and shared medalist honors at Southern Hills Plantation Club, keeping alive his dream to become the first Naval Academy graduate to play full time on the PGA Tour.
Read about the other five second stage qualifiers by clicking here.
“I haven’t really sat back and thought about it,” said Hurley, who finished at 18-under 270, tied with Scott Brown. “Obviously my game has come back quicker than I thought it would, and hopefully it just keeps getting better.”
Hurley, 28, graduated from the Naval Academy in 2004 after a breakthrough senior season in which he won six of the 12 events he entered. Upon graduation, he served as a combat electronic division officer on the guided-missile cruiser U.S.S. Gettysburg in Florida, then played on the U.S. Walker Cup team in ’05, taught Economics 101 at the academy and, oh yeah, turned pro in ’06.
The Navy denied his request to serve only two years of active duty, and Hurley fulfilled his obligation on a destroyer ship in Pearl Harbor (June 2007-June 2009). He played only five rounds of golf during that stretch.
When he returned home to Maryland last summer, Hurley played well enough to qualify for the second stage of Q-School.
“I went there with very low expectations, and my golf swing wasn’t quite ready for the pressure,” he said.
So he split time this season on the eGolf and Hooters tours, capturing one Hooters title in March, earning $56,735 and finishing 15th on the money list. This time, with 16 months to hone his swing, he knew he was ready for a promotion.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the finals shake out,” Hurley said. “I think I’m ready to play out on Tour again, but I think the Nationwide Tour is a good steppingstone, as well. I’m going to try my best and see what happens in a couple of weeks.”
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Tryon again: The last time Ty Tryon played a Q-School stage at Orange County National, he was 17. You may remember the events that followed.
Teen phenom. Spectacular slump. Brief retirement. And now, spirited comeback.
“I’ve struggled so much, but it’s still golf, and I still know how to play,” Tryon, 26, said after finishing 13th at Southern Hills Plantation Club (top 19 advance). “Hopefully something goes my way there.”
Tryon qualified for this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he tied for 80th, earning a trip to Q-School’s second stage. It was his only PGA Tour start of the season, a stark reminder of how far he has fallen. Tryon tied for 39th at the 2001 Honda Classic as a 16-year-old amateur, and later that year became the youngest player to earn a PGA Tour card. He missed 22 of his first 27 cuts on Tour, and his massive potential never was realized.
“I’m definitely more mature now,” he said.
Tryon was well on his way to advancing to this year’s Q-School final before sloppy bogeys on 15 and 16. But on the par-4 18th, he nearly holed his approach from the right rough, lipped out for birdie and tapped in. He finished at 6-under 282, right on the cut line.
“It’s just a constant exercise in suppressing your anxiety,” Tryon said. “I hate making it this hard. It could have been easier, but it seems like that’s the way golf is.”
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Cut-line casualties: The cut fell at 6-under 282. Among the notables who failed to advance (final-round score in parentheses): Marco Dawson (69), Justin Bolli (74), Cliff Kresge (73), Bob Heintz (69), Frank Lickliter (76) and Jay Williamson (74).
Short shots: Matt Every, who was suspended by the PGA Tour for three months for “conduct unbecoming of a professional” after his arrest in July on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession, finished T-41 and failed to advance to the finals of Q-School. ... Scott Stallings birdied seven of the last eight holes, a back-nine 29, to shoot 65 and finish T-3. ... Bubba Dickerson aced the par-3 13th hole Saturday, but that didn’t help him secure a Tour card; he finished T-47. ... Former PGA Tour players Grant Waite, Robert Damron and Robert Gamez each withdrew after the third round.