Father's death on Hurley's mind at Wyndham
August 19, 2015
By Helen Ross , PGATOUR.COM
- Billy Hurley III is currently ranked No. 131 in the FedExCup standings. (Marianna Massey/Getty Images)
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Billy Hurley III and his family used to joke that watching his father watch golf was a spectator sport in itself.
"He rode the roller coaster of every shot that I hit, every shot that my brother hit," Hurley said Wednesday afternoon, shaking his head and smiling at the memory. "He'd mutter under his breath when we hit in the front bunker.
"He was so into it. He loved watching us play."
And Willard “Bill” Hurley Jr. would have admired his son's determination as he comes to Greensboro this week to play in the Wyndham Championship. Billy ranks 131st in the FedExCup standings and needs a good finish to move into the top 125 and secure his playing privileges for next year.
Hurley's father died a week ago of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, three weeks after his son tearfully announced during the Quicken Loans National that his father had disappeared. Law enforcement officers found the elder Hurley in a Texas library, watching golf online, a few days after his son made the announcement. But he never returned home to his family in Virginia.
The funeral was Tuesday. More than 800 attended the memorial service and another 300 or so, mostly missionaries whose work worldwide the elder Hurley helped supervise for Reston Bible Church, watched online.
On Wednesday, Hurley was at Sedgefield, discussing his father for the first time since his death. Afterward, he planned to practice, hoping that getting back to a routine might help him deal with the pain.
"Obviously I wouldn't be here if I wasn't 131 in the FedExCup and needed to play decent to keep my card," Hurley said. "If I was 100th, I wouldn't be here. So I mean, it's just part of life. Life goes on. The job goes on."
One of those watching the memorial service online was Hurley's oldest sister, who gave birth to a son named Jackson at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. So many were logged into the video stream that she couldn't hear the audio of the service.
Hurley learned of his father's death on Wednesday afternoon after a series of telephone calls and messages on his cell phone. He and his family were moving into a new home in Annapolis, Maryland.
Hurley had not been able to talk to his father since the police located him in that Texas library. He said there was no history of depression in his family.
"I think any time this kind of thing happens, he probably had some," Hurley acknowledged. "But we didn't know of anything.
"It was crazy out of the blue, really."
The memorial service brought closure, of sorts, to Hurley and his family. He was overwhelmed to see how many people whose lives his father had touched.
"Everybody at the memorial service said he was the most black-and-white person they had ever known," Hurley said. "There was no gray area in my dad's life, and that was definitely true having grown up with him.
"There was fact and there was fiction, but there was not anything in between. That certainly shaped me and drove me to the military and the Naval Academy."
Hurley's father played golf in college and helped get him interested in the game. He was a retired policeman who often worked off-duty details to earn some extra cash for golf clubs and baseball bats and running shoes for his kids.There was fact and there was fiction, but there was not anything in between.
"Between he and my mom, they saw every tournament my brother played in college (at George Mason) and all but two of mine … which was amazing," Hurley said. "They loved golf."
Hurley hasn't played the game in 10 days, which is not exactly how you want to enter a tournament where your livelihood is at stake. He knows he'll feel a lot of support from his fellow players and the fans this week. Several members of his family are planning to be in Greensboro, too.
"I'm sure everybody will be incredibly supportive," Hurley said. "Maybe thankfully Tiger's here so not too many people will care about anybody else. When I saw that, I was actually kind of happy, relieved.
"But the people have been great. They say that they're praying for me and our family. People I've never met."
Hurley knows the shots will come. But he says he's actually most concerned about how he feels physically.
"I'm exhausted," he said. "Mentally, the Naval Academy prepared me to do stuff like this … although I've never done anything quite of this magnitude.
"I'm not quite so concerned mentally as physiologically. Will my body allow my brain to focus?"
Hurley will have a little something of his dad's to carry him through the week, too. While he was cleaning out his father's truck, Hurley found his golf clubs and took them to the service.
Protecting his dad’s 3-wood was a Navy goat headcover – similar to the one that Hurley uses.
"Everyone kind of gives me a hard time for how old (mine) is and scrawny and beat up," Hurley said. "So I'm going to put that one on my 3-wood."