- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Qualifying for your first major is always a big moment for a golfer. When that major is the U.S. Open the moment only gets bigger. When you are one of only 67 golfers to make the cut and play through the weekend, that’s just the icing on the cake.

Such has been the life of United States Naval Academy graduate Billy Hurley III over the last few weeks.

It was an improbable run that saw Hurley qualify for his first major as he birdied three of his last four holes at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, to punch his ticket to Pinehurst No. 2. On the course at the U.S. Open he managed to avoid early elimination and finish out the weekend tied for 48th.

“Any time you play a golf tournament you want to play well,” said Hurley prior to hitting the links for a practice round at the Quicken Loans National, where he’ll play this week. “I kind of made it pretty hard on myself on the last six holes on Friday afternoon but you know you want to make the cut and gain that extra experience that the weekend gives you and so that was big for me to be able to do that, too.”

Looking ahead, the 32-year-old believes he is at a point in his career where he is ready to move on to the next stage and become a staple on the PGA Tour.

“I definitely felt that I was ready for my first major at that point in time,” said Hurley. “… Had I qualified three or four years ago I might not have been ready and it could’ve been a disaster.”

SEE ALSO: Tiger Woods expects rust at Quicken Loans National, but he’s ready to compete

Hurley will play at Congressional Country Club this week alongside some of the best golfers on the tour including rising star Jordan Spieth and host Tiger Woods, who is using the National as the first step on his way back from injury. Hurley thinks he will be able to keep up with the competition.

“I’ve been playing kind of nicely this year,” said Hurley. “I just hope to continue the consistency and maybe throw on a couple top 10s to finish up the year.”

Hurley earned his best career finish at Woods’ event at Congressional in 2012 when he finished tied for fourth place at 4-under par. Combine that with the fact that he is having the best year of his career and the Leesburg, Virginia, native could quickly become one of the favorites to take the purse this week.

“I’m going to try to hit it as few times as I can,” joked Hurley when asked about his strategy at Congressional. “But you know this place is another U.S. Open-type golf course, obviously held a number of U.S. Opens. So that’s a different type of — not necessarily a different type of golf, but it’s a little bit more strategy, a little bit more thinking. You’ve got to put it in the fairway off the tee and … if I can do that then we’ll be pretty good this week.”

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