BETHESDA, Md.—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 had 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 two-under 69 yesterday to win his hometown Quicken Loans National at Congressional for his first PGA Tour victory.
Before now, he had never finished higher than a tie for fourth in a PGA Tour event.
“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,” he noted.
“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, as well as a spot in the British Open.
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,” said Woods.
“He’s actually truly one that did serve his country, and for him to win an event that honours 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.
David Hearn (69) of Brantford, Ont., and Nick Taylor (70) of Abbotsford, B.C., finished in a tie for 12th at six-under.
Hurley, Singh, Rahm, and Harold Varner III qualified for the British Open as a result of the tournament while Smylie Kaufman got in through FedEx Cup points.