Saturday’s roundup: Hurley has 2-shot lead over Els
Bethesda, Md. — 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.”
Top-ranked Lydia Ko eagled the par-5 18th to tie the course record at 9-under 62 and take a share of the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship.
Ko matched Morgan Pressel at 14-under 128 at Pinnacle Country Club, tying the tournament 36-hole record set by Veronica Felibert in 2012.
The 19-year-old Ko played the final eight holes in 7 under, making five birdies and the eagle. She has two LPGA Tour victories this year, including the major ANA Inspiration, to push her career total to 12.
Pressel, winless since 2008, had a 63.
Jean-Francois Remesy had two eagles in an 8-under 64 to take the second-round lead in the inaugural American Family Insurance Championship.
The last alternate to get into the field after losing a playoff in a Monday qualifier, the 52-year-old Frenchman holed out for eagle from 92 yards with a 52-degree wedge on the par-4 first. He also eagled the par-5 11th, and had four birdies in the bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at University Ridge in Madison, Wis.
Gene Sauers and Bart Bryant were a stroke back. Sauers, tied for the first-round lead with Estaban Toledo after an opening 63, had a 69. He’s is in contention two weeks after withdrawing from the Constellation Senior Players Championship because of a bulging disk.