WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Billy Hurley III has been waiting for a breakthrough moment on the PGA Tour. On Independence Day, the former U.S. Navy officer might have set himself up for one this weekend in the Greenbrier Classic.
Hurley shot a season-best 7-under 63 on Friday to take the second-round lead.
Hurley’s bogey-free round included a chip-in from 29 feet on No. 4 in cool conditions before the wind picked up considerably late in his morning round.
You know, anytime you play good, it’s great, right? Hurley said. There’s special days of the year for our country, and having served ... adds something to it. It’s kind of pretty cool, I guess, to shoot 7 under on the Fourth of July.
Having military experience wasn’t on his mind in jumping to the top of the leader board.
I was just trying to keep getting the ball in the hole, he said.
Hurley was at 9-under 131 at Old White TPC. Eleven players were within four shots of him.
Kevin Chappell (65) and Chris Stroud (66) were a stroke back.
Troy Matteson had a 61 to vault into fourth place at 7 under.
Brice Garnett (66), Steve Stricker (68) and Chris Kirk (69) were another stroke back at 6 under.
Hurley graduated from Annapolis in 2004 and spent five years in the Navy. He played golf sparingly while stationed in Hawaii and worked out as much as he could.
Being mentally tough on the course comes easy for Hurley, whose missions included steering a destroyer through the Suez Canal.
Playing partner Stroud said it was special for a former military man to be leading the tournament and was amazed at how Hurley could recapture his golf game.
There’s a lot to be said about that, Stroud said.
EUROPEAN: In Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, American Kevin Stadler increased his lead to three strokes in the French Open, following his opening 64 with a 68.
Stadler, the Phoenix Open winner, had a 10-under 132 total on Le Golf National’s Albatross Course, the site of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
France’s Victor Riu was second after a 67. Defending champion Graeme McDowell was tied for fourth at 3 under after a 69, and U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer was another stroke back after a 68.