Hurley returns to Pearl Harbor a PGA Tour champion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 11, 2017, 2:10 am

HONOLULU – He’s been back to Oahu before, strolled the beaches of Waikiki and the piers of Pearl Harbor to recall a life that almost doesn’t seem real any longer.

He first played the Sony Open in 2012, his rookie year on the PGA Tour, and he’s been back to Waialae Country Club the last two seasons, but this week is different.

On Tuesday afternoon, when he made what has now become an annual visit to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, there was added significance. Billy Hurley hasn’t changed, well, he’s happy and after an emotionally draining few years, that shouldn’t be overlooked.

But there will be more attention paid to the former U.S. Navy lieutenant this visit. This is, after all, where he served two years on the USS Chung-Hoon, a 10,000-ton guided-missile destroyer, which is currently docked at Pearl Harbor, about a 20-minute drive from the emerald green fairways of Waialae Country Club and this week’s Tour stop.

Unlike his previous visits, Hurley returns with a new title – PGA Tour champion - following his breakthrough victory at last year’s Quicken Loans National. In his signature-subdued style, the 34-year-old shrugs when asked if this return is different.

“Hopefully, I’ll be sharper,” he smiled, a nod to his slow start last week at the SBS Tournament of Champions where he finished 29th out of 32 players.

Still, he knows times have changed, even if he hasn’t.

“Any time you have success and more notoriety, people like you coming back more, its just human nature,” he said. “It escalates it a little bit.”

It’s not as though Hurley is uncomfortable with the spotlight, but filling a room isn’t exactly his style and being back in Hawaii is a reminder of a distant life before he became a Tour staple.


Sony Open in Hawaii: Articles, photos and videos


During his two years in Hawaii, Hurley figures he played golf about once a month at an embarrassment of military golf course riches, including Navy Marine Golf Club, the layout at Hickam Air Force Base and the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course on the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay.

“They have really good greens and two holes that are right on the cliffs, they call it the Pebble Beach of the military golf courses,” Hurley said. “Fantastic views.

Hurley’s smile brightens as he remembers his time in Hawaii, a time before the complications and concerns of Tour life became his primary concern.

He hasn’t spent a lot of time smiling the last few years. It was at the Quicken Loans National in 2015, ironically, where Hurley learned that his father, Willard Hurley Jr., had gone missing.

After numerous pleas to help find his father in the media, Willard Hurley was spotted in Texas and returned home to Virginia. Two weeks later, Hurley Jr. was found dead near the Potomac River from a self-inflicted gunshot. He was 61.

His victory a year later at Congressional was predictably emotional. “It's been a hard year. It's been a really hard year, so it's nice to have something go well,” he said at the time.

Slowly, however, he’s come to realize that he could enjoy his victory and honor his father, that the two events were mutually exclusive. In many ways, coming back to Hawaii, visiting the Chung-Hoon, which he served on in the Persian Gulf to protect Iraqi oil platforms, allowed Hurley to come full circle.

“They are in dry dock right now, so see the ship is all out of the water. It will be cool,” he beamed.

He concedes his profile is considerably higher this time, that his Sunday last June at Congressional transformed him from an interesting story to a bona fide personality. It’s his elevated Q-Rating that he hopes to leverage in his ongoing attempts to help those who serve through various charitable organizations, including Birdies For the Brave and the SEAL Legacy Foundation.

“Maybe I’m a little more recognized on Tour than I was three years ago and so hopefully we can make that translate into more military folks knowing about me,” he said.

Certainly more people, both in and out of the military, know Hurley’s story, from the Naval Academy and serving in the Persian Gulf to the PGA Tour and his first victory.

It’s the kind of stardom that never really seemed achievable when he used to play golf on Oahu for fun, not oversized paychecks. But that seems like a different life now.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: