Hurley can't imagine a better place for first win

By Nick MentaJune 26, 2016, 12:50 am

Sure, there’s the prospect of Ernie Els overcoming the yips to win for the 20th time, or of Jon Rahm taking the title in his pro debut.

But with 18 holes to play at Congressional Country Club, it’s tough to find a better story than Billy Hurley III’s.

Thanks to a bogey-free 67 Saturday, Hurley leads Els by two and Rahm by three at the Quicken Loans National. 

This is the second 54-hole lead of Hurley’s career. The first came two years ago at The Greenbrier and ended with him seven shots behind winner Angel Cabrera after a closing 73.

A resident of Annapolis, Md., just an hour away, Hurley is facing the added pressure of trying to lock up his first PGA Tour win in front of his friends and family.

“I'm probably making it look a little easier than it is, but I'm also probably a little more relaxed than I have been in the past, too,” Hurley said.

“I've been here before and so, yeah, hopefully that experience and just the growth and maturity that comes from having been in the position to win golf tournaments before will show tomorrow and we'll be able to get it done.”

In his second attempt to close, he’ll be chased by a 19-time Tour winner and a kid who evidently wants to win 19 majors. Els and Rahm are both compelling, but a victory Sunday would likely mean even more to Hurley given his unique relationship to this event.

Quicken Loans National: Articles, photos and videos

Following a standout amateur career at the Naval Academy, Hurley spent five years in the Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant. In addition to supporting the Tiger Woods Foundation, the Quicken Loans National also supports the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, with special perks for military members in addition to a tribute wall and a pavilion on site.

Asked about the relationship between the tournament and the military, Hurley answered: “I can't think of a better one for me to win to be my first win on Tour. It would be probably the best one of kind of the regular-season Tour events for sure.”

The military connection aside, there’s also what this tournament means to Hurley personally. It was during a news conference at the Quicken Loans last year that an emotional Hurley asked for help in finding his missing father, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound two weeks later.

Now, one year later, at this same event, Hurley finds himself on top of the leaderboard.

“You know, obviously I think about my dad a lot. Today was interesting,” Hurley said. “I was walking from 9 to 10 and I've never really had a whole lot of police officers following my group, you know. I'm not like that cool. But playing in the lead, you know, they have a couple police officers following you around.

“It dawned on me like, ‘Hey, this is what my dad did.’ He walked inside the ropes and did this at Presidents Cups and stuff. So that kind of made me think about him for a second there between 9 and 10.”

In addition to the hunt for his first win, Hurley is looking to lock down an invite to the Open Championship at Royal Troon and, with a victory, his first trip to Augusta National next year. It's a big deal for a guy who's played just 12 events this year out of the reshuffle.

He and Els, who won the U.S. Open at Congressional in 1997, will go off in the final pairing Sunday afternoon.

"Yeah, it should be fun. Ernie's been really nice to me over the last couple years here on Tour," Hurley said. "Obviously he's a great player and he's got great success around this place, too, so it should be a good day."

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

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Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

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Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

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Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm