- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2012

After a stellar college career including seven titles, captaining the 2004 Palmer Cup team and earning the Byron Nelson Award for being the top collegiate golfer and sportsman, Billy Hurley III did something most athletes in his position do not.

Hurley entered the Navy following his graduation from the United States Naval Academy.

Serving as a lieutenant upon his exit in 2009, Hurley played a few tournaments whenever he could use leave days. He then turned his sights on the PGA Tour.

“Initially it happened a little slower than I was hoping,” said Hurley on the transition back into professional golf. “It’s been pretty easy in some ways and hard in some ways.”

Hurley’s lone win came on the developmental NGA Hooters Tour, where he won the Terry Moore Ford Open in 2010. Since then, he’s had four top-10s on the Nationwide Tour, including a second-place finish at the Chiquita Classic in 2011.

Hurley earned the final tour card for the 2012 PGA Tour season by finishing 25th on the 2011 Nationwide Tour money list.

The transition hasn’t been quite what he imagined though.

“It’s been a little harder for me for whatever reason,” Hurley said. “The courses out here are a little longer, a little firmer, a little bit higher rough. Everything is just a little bit more difficult so you have to be that much better and that much more precise.”

This season hasn’t been kind to Hurley. Competing in 17 events so far, he’s only made five cuts and his best finish is a T-32 at the Texas Open in April.

As for this weekend at the AT&T National, Hurley just wants to do well.

“I don’t know what that means [playing well],” said Hurley. “Sometimes playing well means missing the cut by a shot because it was the best you could do. Sometimes it means having a chance to win.”

The week ahead

The bulk of the field will arrive Tuesday for practice rounds that begin at 7 a.m. as players get their first look at Congressional since last summer’s U.S. Open.

Wednesday is the AT&T National Pro-Am with between 30 and 40 pros participating (actual participants will be known Tuesday). They will be split in two group; one will tee off at 6:30 a.m., the other in the afternoon.

The first tee-time Thursday to begin tournament play is 7:10 a.m.; rounds should conclude at around 6 p.m.

Stallings withdraws

Scott Stallings withdrew because of back issues which kept him out of the Travelers Championship last weekend. He will be replaced by Vaughn Taylor, whose last professional win came in 2005 at the Reno-Tahoe Open.

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