What they said: Billy Hurley III

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June 28, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE: AT&T National transcript archive JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Billy Hurley to the interview room here at the AT&T National. Great playing, first round 69 and certainly in the mix after the first day. If we can get some opening comments, certainly, I'm sure, fun to play well here.

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah, I mean, any time you play well, it's fun. But this is a heck of a golf course. You have to hit a lot of quality shots, and I was able to do that. I hit it really well overall today and had a lot of good looks. I mean, even at this place you hit quality shots that end up with not a good look at birdie sometimes. So you just have to -- I sort of was patient out there, made a couple putts early and then mulled it around and had a couple good looks on the front but didn't make anything.

Q. Where does this stack among the toughest courses you've played??

BILLY HURLEY III: I mean, it's certainly right up there. I can't think of one that was harder. I'm trying to -- Torrey was pretty tough for sure, especially being sort of cold and early in the year over there, the ball is not going very far. But it wasn't half as firm as this.

Q. Can you kind of give us your local background, the years at Annapolis, how many years you lived in this area??

BILLY HURLEY III: Sure, I was born in Leesburg, Virginia, and I lived there until I was 18 years old and then I moved to the Naval Academy. I think they started Plebe Summer today.

I was four years in the Naval Academy, graduated in 2004, then spent time in Jacksonville, Florida, active duty there, and then was active duty teaching at the Naval Academy and then active duty in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on a ship out there. I got out of the Navy in June, actually right at three years ago and a couple days, June 2009, got out of the Navy, and started playing golf again. Moved back to Annapolis at that point and have been living in Annapolis since we got out of the Navy.

Q. Whereabouts??

BILLY HURLEY III: If you go down Bay Ridge past Quiet Waters Park, behind the Giant food shopping center there.

Q. With the round that you had today, the bogey on the last hole, disappointing not to be right there??

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah, I mean, any round that finishes with a bogey is sort of, eh, but I hit a bad shot off the tee, that got a bad break and went further left. I hit a good shot -- as good a shot as I could that didn't get quite to the fairway, could have got to the fairway, didn't quite get there so I had to still lay it up again. Laid it up into a divot and hit a great shot out of the divot to 20 feet, and the putt hit a spike mark, so it sort of just was -- it was a 6 to a 6 to a 6 to a 6.

Q. What happened with the break on the tee shot??

BILLY HURLEY III: Well, I hit it left and it hit a tree and went further left over. I was playing No.4 off No.9.

Q. Tree, divot, spike mark then??

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah.

Q. Two things: One, as you go through this rookie year, do you find people who know your story pretty well, military people in particular coming up and talking to you at events??

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah, I'd say I see a Naval Academy grad about every week, and you get to certain events are closer to bases. I mean, I saw a lot of people in Pearl Harbor, San Diego, last week up near -- I had some friends come who were in Rhode Island at Newport, and then this week you've got a bunch of people all around. Actually the guy tending the flag on 17, sort of the American flag hole there, he works with my roommate from my last ship. It was sort of funny to talk, and I said, do you know this guy, and he goes, yeah, I work with him. Yeah, I see people all the time.

Q. And a five-year commitment, how much golf did you play??

BILLY HURLEY III: I played a lot for the first three years. You know, the Navy let me play a little bit, played the Walker Cup team in '05, but then the last two years I was on the ship in Hawai'i, and I played very little, probably averaged once a month. I played five competitive rounds in two years out there. It was a hiatus in a sense from golf. I became a recreational golfer for a couple years.

Q. Given the uniqueness of your background, how does it translate to playing this TOUR, and how do you fit in with the other players? Their background is far different from yours.

BILLY HURLEY III: I mean, the background certainly doesn't fit. I mean, nobody has ever went to a service academy and played out here, and so I don't think -- there's probably nobody out here, might be a couple guys, who actually took time off of golf at any point in their life. So the background is very different, I think, and that just is what it is.

But I mean, as far as fitting in out here, the background gives me a little bit of a story as a rookie that some of the older players know, maybe a little more than your average rookie out here.

Q. I don't know if you've been asked this, I just got in here. Does the heat factor in with you? Do you have an advantage given your training? Or is it so far in the past that it's not a whole lot of residual effect with a weekend coming up like this?

BILLY HURLEY III: I guess I've dealt with it a lot. It was 110 in the shade in the Persian Gulf. That was maybe as hot as you've ever been.

So yeah, I've definitely dealt with it a lot. I think that I know how to deal with it. And for whatever reason, even last year, I play really good when it's hot.

Q. Do you think having been in the military can be a plus out here? Are there things you can draw on, or is it totally separate?

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah, they're very different. I mean, I think there's certainly a mental toughness that I learned from the Navy and the Naval Academy that translates well into golf, but the pressures and the life are very different.

Q. Can you go through maybe from high school and going to the Navy and to now what you thought your chances were or wouldn't of being a professional golfer? When you went to Navy, for instance, did you just say no?

BILLY HURLEY III: No, I mean, I knew I wanted to go to the Naval Academy, and I knew what that meant. I wasn't an AJGA all-American, I wasn't a top junior player. I didn't get recruited by anybody else. That might be because I wore a Navy golf hat my junior and senior year of high school.

But I remembered standing on the putting green during Plebe Summer, however long ago that is, 12 years ago, and telling one of my classmates, one of my buddies that I was going to play on the PGA TOUR. He laughed and was like, good luck with that.

So I mean, it was something I knew I wanted to try. I didn't know if I'd be good enough to try. And then all of a sudden my senior year I just got -- like I took a couple steps forward and became good enough to try.

Q. What's it like being an older rookie, especially like today you look over your side you've got a 17?year?old kid you're playing with and you're playing at Tiger Woods' tournament. As an older rookie is it a benefit do you think?

BILLY HURLEY III: It just is what it is. I mean, yeah, I'm 30, and I think in golf years I'm like 25, I mean, in a sense, because not many guys have taken time off like that. So I mean, I have a lot more life experience just with living life in the Navy, and I am married, I have two kids, so I've got a lot of other things going on in life that maybe your 26-year-old rookie doesn't have.

I don't know that that gives me an advantage or a disadvantage, it just sort of is what it is.

Q. Why did you want to be in the Navy or go to the Naval Academy??

BILLY HURLEY III: I really don't remember what initially got me interested in the Naval Academy, but I took a tour there after my freshman year of high school with a retired admiral who was a family friend and fell in love with it. It was the only place I wanted to go. It was the only place I applied to, and I just fell in love with everything that the Naval Academy stood for and just the honor, courage, commitment, traditions, all that stuff that embodies the place and the Navy.

Q. Secondly, what did you do on the ship at Pearl Harbor??

BILLY HURLEY III: I had two jobs there. The first job I was a force protection assistant, so I was in charge of like training and setting up our security measures while we were in port, so sort of like protecting the ship from something in the harbor or whatever when you go overseas and you anchor out and do all that stuff, so I was in charge of setting all that up and training the crew to be ready to do that.

The second job I was a first lieutenant, and with that one, that was more of a management position than a training position, and I had about 20 guys and girls whose average age was probably 20 who worked for me, and we did everything from launch and recover the helicopters to drive the ship's small boats to anchoring, mooring, paint the side of the ship. I mean, we did a lot of -- first division, deck division, there was a lot of stuff.

Q. And you retired as what??

BILLY HURLEY III: I didn't actually retire, but I was a lieutenant when I finished up. Separated would be the right term.

Q. Separated??

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah, separated would be the right term, just resigned my commission or whatever.

Q. You were one of the last academy classes to come before 9/11.

BILLY HURLEY III: That's correct.

Q. So since then the Navy became a hugely patriotic popular place to go, but you went before that line of demarcation. How did you explain to people back then that you were going to the Navy when the reaction might not have been as -- now it would be really enthusiastic.

BILLY HURLEY III: I didn't have any bad reaction to it from anybody at all. I mean, it was just -- yeah.

Q. I'm just curious when you were at Pearl Harbor, was there any sense of, I don't know, kind of you're the protector of a sacred place or anything??

BILLY HURLEY III: Well, the one thing we got to do was every December 7th they have like a Pearl Harbor ceremony, so in 2008 we were like the ceremonial ship for that ceremony, and so we drove right past the USS ARIZONA at 8:03 when the first bomb hit and sort of did the commemorative ceremony, which was a really cool experience.

Q. What ship were you on??

BILLY HURLEY III: USS CHUNG?HOON. Ship names are in all capitals.

Q. Just talk about your major in college. It was a pretty specified major, what that was??

BILLY HURLEY III: It was quantitative economics. I can't spell it. Hopefully she can. It was basically math and econ sort of merged. It was jointly taught by the math department and the econ department, a lot of statistics, and I sort of did my final stuff in game theory.

Q. Military background or quantitative economics set you apart on the TOUR??

BILLY HURLEY III: Probably the military.

Q. A lot of guys with that background who choose ships end up on Wall Street, don't they? Don't they become quants?

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah, I mean, there was a good MBA program in the service Navy, but I -- and I know a couple of guys who have gone there, very competitive at Wharton and Harvard out of the Navy, and lots of guys from the Navy, they go to those schools.

Q. You're unique but so is this golf tournament and its connection to the military. Could you discuss that as the military person here on the TOUR as to what this means and how you interpret the relationship??

BILLY HURLEY III: I mean, I think it's -- this is certainly a special tournament, and you have a lot more military out here, which is really fun for me today. There was a lot of military, a lot of "Beat Armies" getting thrown around there. Somebody said, "Go Army." We had to correct him. (Laughter.)

But the tournament here is -- I mean, the connection to the military, and I got to play here last year when it was in Philly, so just the way that this tournament has decided to honor the military is fantastic, and it always seems to fall around 4th of July. I mean, not obviously this week, but sort of in that mix.

And I think that any time that we as an American public take time to pause and remember, reflect and honor the military, it's a great thing.

Q. Does this tournament because of that hold more meaning to you than other TOUR stops, or once you get into the flow of the TOUR, it's another big tournament??

BILLY HURLEY III: I mean, there's so many of them. It's funny, as I've gone through this year, it's I really like that place and obviously Hawai'i and San Diego are military towns. But this one is different, I think, in the way in which they have purposefully set the military out as the sort of -- what we're going to do here this week. So yeah, that's special.

Q. In general, where is your career now three years into it? What do you need to do with your game? What do you need to do with money winnings, and where does this week fit into that?

BILLY HURLEY III: Well, let's talk on Sunday and we can figure out where it fits (laughing). I mean, I think I just need to keep getting better. And that sounds a little strange, I'm sure, or not very quantified, but I don't really feel like there's a glaring weakness in my game, I just need to sort of do everything a little better.

I mean, I have not hit the ball very well this year, but I hit it well last year and I've hit it well this week so far, so hopefully we can keep going with that. You know, I think that it's also just about our getting comfortable out here. Everything is a little bit -- courses are a little bit longer, a little bit firmer, a little bit faster. So it's all little increments.

Q. Are you going back home to Annapolis every night or staying close to here??

BILLY HURLEY III: I commuted the first part of the week, but I'm staying over here now.

Q. Can you say where??

BILLY HURLEY III: Yeah, I'm staying in Tysons, just sort of at the Ritz there.

Q. And your dad, correct me if I'm wrong, he's a club pro??

BILLY HURLEY III: Well, he was before I was born, so that's, whatever, 32 years ago the last time he was a club pro. But I mean, yeah, he was, he played in college and did that for a while before, but he was a police officer.

Q. Police officer before or after golf pro??

BILLY HURLEY III: He was a police officer after golf pro for 27 years or something.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Billy, thank you.

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