Quicken Loans National 2016
Round 4 - Billy Hurley III claims maiden PGA Tour win
June 27, 2016
Billy Hurley III held the club in his left hand and fist pumped with his right. The ball disappeared into the hole in front of him as the crowd roared, and Hurley let loose the emotion he'd been holding in.
''That's probably like the most emotion I've ever shown in my life,'' Hurley said.
An hour later, not far from his Annapolis home and the Naval Academy he graduated from 12 years ago, Hurley became a champion. He shot a 2-under 69 on Sunday to win his hometown Quicken Loans National at Congressional for his first PGA Tour victory.
''Couldn't be a better tournament to win from all the facets of it,'' Hurley said with the trophy in front of him. ''From just being close to home, being close to the Academy, close to where I grew up. It's just perfect.''
The 607th-ranked player in the world finished at 17 under in Tiger Woods' annual tournament, three strokes ahead of three-time major champion Vijay Singh, who said it was nice to see Hurley play well and not lose it at the end.
Hurley didn't lose it. He only got better as it went along.
To beat Singh, Ernie Els and 21-year-old Jon Rahm, Hurley showed the poise he developed at the Naval Academy and during his five years of service. Mental toughness and focus he said help with adversity on the course, and that showed through in his 104th PGA Tour start.
With the 53-year-old Singh closing on him, Hurley was at his best. He holed out from 35 yards on the fairway for birdie on the 15th, a shot worthy of celebration and one Woods himself called ''impressive, really impressive.''
As if that wasn't enough, Hurley made a 27-foot putt on the 16th to seal the tournament and wrap up the $1,242,000 first-place prize and a spot in the British Open. Hurley the family man said it wasn't a foregone conclusion he'd go to Royal Troon because his sister is getting married that weekend in Leesburg, Virginia, where they grew up.
Open or no Open, this is a career-altering victory for Hurley, who served five years in the Navy and showed he could master drives off the tee as well as he mastered driving ships through the Suez Canal. Before now, he had never finished higher than a tie for fourth in a PGA Tour event.
Hurley celebrated on the 18th green with wife Heather, daughter Madison and sons Will and Jacob. His children held miniature American flags as they watched their father win.
''To have a serviceman actually win the event, it doesn't get any better than that,'' Woods said. He's actually truly one that did serve his country, and for him to win an event that honors the military more than any other event, it's very apropos that he did it here.''
Singh closed with a 65. Rahm, the former Arizona State star from Spain, wrapped up his professional debut with a 70 to tie for third with Bill Haas (68) at 13 under. Els was fifth at 12 under after an eventful 72 that included five bogeys and one double.
Hurley, Singh, Rahm and Harold Varner III qualified for the British Open as a result of the tournament and Smylie Kaufman got in through FedEx Cup points.
Future tournaments weren't on his mind this week, but his father was. Willard Hurley Jr. died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound 10 months ago.
Hurley thought of his dad, a police officer, when he saw officers following his group Saturday.
''It's been a hard year,'' Hurley said Sunday. ''It's been a really hard year, so it's nice to have something go well.''
Hurley maintained his focus in the final round with Woods watching in his trademark Sunday red and with galleries full of fans supporting the local boy who proudly sports Navy colors including a club head cover of the academy's goat mascot.
All week, Hurley heard chants of ''Maryland'' and ''21412,'' the zip code for the Naval Academy. The honorary starters on the first hole Sunday were Naval officers Georges Labaki and Matthew Cook, who both had met and talked to Hurley about golf and service.
''He served, for one,'' Labaki said. ''He did his time and he's also representing the Navy. I've had a talk with him, personally, also, a few years ago. He said it's been an honor to serve, but he wanted to follow his passion, golf.''
Memories of his time at the Naval Academy came back amid the birdies that peppered his round. They came flooding back once Hurley won the tournament.
''This is the stuff I remember being in plebe summer at the Naval Academy telling one of my teammates I was going to play on the PGA Tour and he kind of chuckled at me,'' he said. ''And now to have won on the PGA Tour, unbelievable.''
Round 3 - Billy Hurley III opens two shot lead
June 26, 2016
Billy Hurley III relied on his experience as a Naval officer to stay focused during a bogey-free round in the Quicken Loans National. Only a few times did his mind slip away.
Hurley couldn't help but drift away from golf when he made the turn and looked at the police officers following his group. Not used to that attention, Hurley thought about his father who died 10 months ago of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
''It dawned on me: This is what my dad did. He walked inside the ropes and did this at Presidents Cups and stuff,'' Hurley said. ''Obviously, I think about my dad a lot.''
With his dad on his mind, Hurley shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over Ernie Els into the final round of Tiger Woods' annual tournament. The 607th-ranked player in the world was 15 under and in position for his first PGA Tour victory.
''I can't think of a better one for me to win,' said Hurley, a graduate of the Naval Academy and a resident of Annapolis. ''To be my first one on tour, it would be probably the best one of kind of the regular-season tournaments, for sure.''
To win, Hurley will have to again tame the Blue Course at Congressional as he has through three rounds and fend off Els and the rest of the pack chasing him. Jon Rahm (70) was three strokes back, and Bill Haas and Webb Simpson (68) were five back.
Even though he believes ''no lead is big enough,'' Hurley was in control because he had just three bogeys. Even when he hasn't hit fairways, the 34-year-old has looked poised and unfazed by the spotlight and the pressure of being the hometown rooting interest.
Hurley credits his five years in the Navy for building up mental toughness.
''That definitely helps in adversity on the golf course,'' said Hurley, who grew up in Leesburg, Virginia. ''Focus, too. When you're driving a ship through the Suez Canal, it's all eyes ahead, focused exactly what we're doing. Land on each side and trying to just keep it in the middle. Focusing on the task at hand is definitely something that I've learned, as well.''
The task at hand now is being paired with Els, a four-time major winner, on Sunday.
Els holed out for eagle on the par-4 12th and finished with a 65. The 46-year-old hit a 9-iron from the fairway from 157 yards.
''When the game gives you something, there's a lot of excitement there and that was really one of the more exciting moments,'' Els said. ''I don't think I've ever slam-dunked it into the hole like that. I've had some run of slopes and run into the hole but that just flew right in. It was a great feeling.''
Els hasn't won since the 2012 British Open but has been building up his confidence despite a poor run of results. He has been thinking about winning at Congressional, the place he captured the 1997 U.S. Open.
''I can't but help think about it because I won one of my biggest events here as a pro and I love it so much and obviously one more win will give me the 20, which is huge,'' Els said. ''On the golf course you think about the next shot and I'm quite focused this week on my next golf shot. I'm not too clogged with that kind of a thought.''
Rahm is trying to maintain his composure after struggling in the third round of his first professional event. The 21-year-old former Arizona State star from Spain, who held the lead after one round and shared it with Hurley after two, had four bogeys in the 70 that left him three strokes behind Hurley.
Rahm said he couldn't drive the ball all day. He sliced his tee shot on 13 past the trees and putted well enough to stay in contention.
''I couldn't seem to find the rhythm to find the fairway,'' Rahm said. ''With the way I hit the driver, I'm lucky to have finished under par.''
Round 2 - Jon Rahm and Billy Hurley III share lead
June 25, 2016
Spain's Jon Rahm kept up his impressive professional debut by posting a four-under-par 67 to share a three-shot, second-round lead with local favorite Billy Hurley III at the Quicken Loans National on Friday.
Overnight leader Rahm, the former Arizona State golfer who was the low amateur at last week's U.S. Open at Oakmont, held sole possession of the lead before missing a four-foot par putt at the last in Bethesda, Maryland.
Hurley, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who calls nearby Annapolis his home, fired a six-under 65 to join playing partner Rahm on 11-under-par 131 at Congressional.
Alone in third place was 53-year-old Vijay Singh of Fiji, whose five-under 66 took him to eight-under at the halfway mark.
Lurking another shot back was Ernie Els, tied with three others at seven-under on the course where the big South African won his second U.S. Open crown in 1997.
Rahm was delighted that he was able to register another strong score in his second professional round after opening with a 64.
"I couldn't be happier," the 21-year-old from Barrika said. "(Thursday) was a great round and after a great round usually it's hard to follow it. I'm really proud of myself."
Three-times major champion Singh, who has not won on the PGA Tour since 2008, could become the circuit's oldest winner with a victory.
Hurley, looking for a first PGA Tour victory, credited his impressive start to his play on the greens.
"I made a lot of good putts today but they were all really tricky," said Hurley, who was encouraged by fans shouting out "21412" as he confidently made his way around Congressional.
"21412 is the zip code of the post office on the Naval Academy," Hurley explained.
Tied with Els on seven-under were Americans Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, Bill Haas and Harold Varnell III.
Round 1 - Jon Rahm leads on pro debut
June 24, 2016
Jon Rahm couldn't remember a single shot he took in a professional debut to remember. Ernie Els recalled shots he hit on the same course 19 years ago.
Rahm shot a 7-under 64 on Thursday at Congressional to take the first-round lead in the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods' annual tournament that started two hours late because of rain.
The soft course, with a fox lounging on the edge of a bunker and darting around with little care for the golf going on around him, allowed players to attack fairways and play aggressively. Rahm took advantage of that with seven birdies in a bogey-free round.
''I was anticipating this moment,'' the 21-year-old Spaniard said. ''I'm working on it a long time that I kind of blacked out a little bit. I don't remember a single swing I made all day or any putting stroke or anything. I just remember the ball flying or rolling.''
The former Arizona State star was the only amateur to make the cut last week in the U.S. Open, tying for 23rd at Oakmont. With momentum from the U.S. Open, Rahm tried to temper his expectations and relied on advice from golf great Jack Nicklaus.
''What he told me is to just never do more than what I can do,'' said Rahm, who cited not looking at social media as another key to his success. ''Try not to risk too much. And that's certainly something I did today.''
The long-hitting Rahm had a one-stroke lead over Jhonattan Vegas and a two-stroke advantage over a pack that included Els, who won the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional. Rickie Fowler and Vijay Singh were among those at 68.
Els, who turned pro five years before Rahm was born, chose to play the Quicken Loans immediately after missing the cut at the U.S. Open because of how much he likes the course. He has the same caddie, Ricci Roberts, who was on his bag back in 1997, and Thursday was full of useful memories.
''Winning a major at a special place like Congressional, playing here again, you just keep thinking back on shots,'' Els said. ''Almost every single hole there's a moment back in '97 where we can remember still.''
The 46-year-old Els is almost four years from his last victory, when he won the 2012 British Open. But he started feeling more like himself during the pro-am Wednesday and showed it by shooting a 66.
''I felt comfortable with my swing this week,'' Els said. ''I've had a very tough year. I haven't played very well, so I need to start playing well.''
Rahm, on the other hand, has been gradually improving. He opened eyes by tying for fifth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2015 and turned pro as the top-ranked amateur.
Now his challenge is to keep expectations low while leading a tournament. Rahm's plan was to go see a movie and get away from golf rather than focus on it.
''It is a challenge,'' Rahm said. ''I've been playing a lot of golf lately and maybe trying to get time off golf is just as important as time practicing, so maybe just resting my mind a little bit would be the best way to do it.''
Bill Haas, Jamie Lovemark, Kyle Reifers, Camilo Villegas, Harold Varner III, Billy Hurley IIIand Wesley Bryan were at 66 along with Els.
The 7,569-yard course, which last hosted the U.S. Open in 2011 when Rory McIlroy won it by eight strokes, could play even longer once it dries out by the weekend. After rain that started before dawn, players said the fairways weren't bouncing, so clean shots could get the job done.
''On this course you had better drive it well in the fairway and it's a bonus if you can drive it long and straight,'' Vegas said. ''Put it in the fairway and greens being a little softer than normal, you can play a good round today.''