As it turns out, blood is thicker than water from a Claret Jug.
It does not suck being Billy Hurley III right now. A week ago, the closest Hurley could reasonably expect to be to stardom would be if someone had accidentally confused him with former NBA star and current Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley.
He possessed the anonymity that came with being the world’s 607th ranked golfer, esoteric information that only the most hardcore golf fans and statsologists would know. He was fortunate enough to be a PGA Tour member, but struggled to even make tournaments. Year to date, he had only made $80,000, a good chunk of change, but nowhere near where he needed to be to have a chance at keeping his Tour Card.
Then Hurley caught a break. He was granted one of Tiger Woods’ two sponsors exemptions for the Quicken Loans National. He won, earning $1.2 million and all the perks that come with it: a two-year tour exemption, Masters Invite, WGC exemptions, etc. Another one of those perks is an invite to the Open Championship, being played at Royal Troon.
An invite that Hurley is passing on.
He announced today that he is withdrawing from The Open, and will instead be attending his sister’s wedding.
The announcement is a surprise to Hurley’s fan base, which has grown exponentially as more people have heard his captivating back story.
It makes you wonder if Hurley’s sister is a golf fan. I can sort of picture her asking her brother if he had an important tournament that weekend, and him looking at his calendar, sighing, and saying in a phlegmatic, defeatist tone, “Nah, that weekend’s good”.
This isn’t the first time a golfer has withdrawn from The Open for non-injury reasons. Kenny Perry famously passed on a spot in 2008, despite being at the top of his game in his late-40s, and having never won a major. Instead of playing The Open, he spent that time in Illinois at Quad Cities, playing the John Deere Classic, focused primarily on making the Ryder Cup team that would be playing in his home state of Kentucky.
That being said, passing up on a major is very rare, but Hurley seems confident that it’s the right choice.
“I wouldn’t miss my sister’s wedding for the world, and I think that at this point in time for me and my family and the trajectory of our family, it’s very important for me to be there to support her and her new husband,” Hurley said. “It was a pretty easy decision at the end of the day. She tried to not really influence me a ton on Sunday night, but I called her while I was playing, and she started crying. I mean, so she was pretty thrilled that I’ll be there.”
His sister must be very special. Or maybe Hurley is just that good of a guy.
Standing in @Starbucks line listening to a conversation about me and my win
— Billy Hurley III (@BillyHurley3) June 27, 2016