This week already is one that Navy man Billy Hurley III won’t soon forget. About a half hour before teeing off in a Monday qualifier for this week’s Nationwide Tour Stadion Classic at UGA, Hurley was notified that he had received the last of four sponsor exemptions into the event.
That it came the morning after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan was no coincidence.
Earlier this season, Hurley, who has limited status on the Nationwide Tour after reaching the finals of Q-School, wrote a letter asking for a sponsor exemption into the event at the University of Georgia Golf Course. Because the Nationwide Tour reshuffle occurred Sunday night, two players who were in line to receive exemptions had played their way into the tournament. Fortunately for Hurley, officials at the Stadion Classic were waiting until Monday morning to offer the final exemption. After the events of Sunday night, Hurley’s invite was an obvious choice.
A Georgia PGA official notified Hurley on the range Monday morning that he was in the field.
Hurley was a decorated amateur player, winning the 2004 Byron Nelson Award as the nation’s top golfer and competing on the U.S. Walker Cup team. Upon graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, he completed tours of duty near China, South Korea and in the Middle East. In 2009, after five years of mandated duty, he resumed his pursuit of a professional golf career.
In four events this season – two apiece on the PGA and Nationwide tours – Hurley’s best finish is a tie for 44th, at last week’s South Georgia Classic.