Leesburg native, Naval Academy grad steers himself to victory at Quicken Loans National

Billy Hurley celebrates Sunday's victory at the Quicken Loans National with lots of friends and family members.

Billy Hurley celebrates Sunday's victory at the Quicken Loans National with lots of friends and family members.

Bethesda, Md. — When Quicken Loans National leader Billy Hurley was asked about staying focused as the rest of the field of golfers eyed his advantage before teeing off Sunday he thought about guiding a naval ship down a canal.

The Naval Academy graduate (’04) certainly seemed battle tested on his way to his first tournament win on the PGA tour.

Hurley almost cruised to the win.

On the 14th hole, with a chance to pull even with Hurley, John Rahm’s birdie attempt pulled itself around the cup but would not fall.

A short while later, on the 15th hole, Hurley chipped a shot from off the green and then realized it had fallen into the cup for a birdie. His jutted both fists in the air and gave a battle cry.

“When the ball disappeared on 15 I didn’t know what to do,” said Hurley. “That’s probably the most emotion I’ve ever shown in my life. The people who know me and served with me will actually say that’s probably true.”

There were plenty of those people to ask. Being from Leesburg, Hurley had friends, family and coaches from Navy surrounding him on the course, watching this veteran score a -17 over the course of the tournament and pick up his first PGA tour win.

“Pat Owen taught me a lot about the game and he’s a short game wizard and taught me a lot of short game shots through college,” said Hurley.

Putting it all together came after Hurley toughed out a rough year. It saw him go through a police manhunt for his missing father and then shortly after his suicide.

Hurley reflected on that once the tournament was in the books.

“It wasn’t 8 weeks ago I was thinking about retiring,” said Hurley. “Not much has gone well and it’s hard. That’s golf. Probably two weeks from now it will be hard again but for one special week it was easy.”

As a sign that the sailing won’t be so smooth, Hurley said he’ll have to decide between taking advantage of the spot he earned in the British Open by winning the National and attending a family wedding in Leesburg.

“It’s not forgone conclusion I’ll be going,” said Hurley.

Once thing is certain, though. Hurley said work on his swing and his wedge game put the 607th-ranked golfer on the PGA tour in position to win his first tournament. He has some holes in the drywall of his basement to prove it.

Timing allowed him to be leagues ahead of the field at a tournament that honors the military and this year crowned a veteran as its champion.