After making just five cuts in 17 starts, Billy Hurley is having a rookie season on the PGA Tour that needs a boost of energy.
He might have found it at the AT&T National, a tournament designed by its founder -- Tiger Woods -- to honor the men and women of the military. Hurley is unique among touring pros. He's a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who served five years of active duty on ships in Hawaii, Florida and the Persian Gulf.
"My background certainly doesn't fit," he said. "Nobody has ever gone to a service academy and played out here. The tour has only a couple of guys who have taken time off from golf in their life."
Hurley shot 69 on Thursday at Congressional Country Club and led the tournament before a bogey on his final hole dropped him to fifth. He's one of three players who are two strokes behind leader Bo Van Pelt going into Friday's second round.
"This is certainly a special tournament," the 30-year-old Hurley said. "You have a lot more military on the course, which is fun for me. There was a lot of 'Beat Army' getting thrown around."
Hurley played in the AT&T National last year in Philadelphia, but the return to Bethesda, Md., has put the tournament closer to his hometown of Leesburg, Va., and his adopted home of Annapolis, Md., where he attended the Academy.
He graduated in 2004 and began active duty, serving on destroyers. When he left the Navy in 2009, he was a lieutenant.
"I played some golf the first three years I was in," said Hurley, who played for the United States in the 2005 Walker Cup. "The last two I didn't play much."
He qualified for the PGA Tour through his performance on the Web.com Tour.
"I don't feel like there is a glaring weakness in my game," he said. "I just need to do everything a little better."
The temperature is supposed to reach 100 degrees this weekend in the Washington, D.C., area, but Hurley said his Navy experience prepared him for that.
"It was 110 in the shade in the Persian Gulf," he explained. "That was as hot as I've ever been."
He may have one other advantage from his military service.
"There's certainly a mental toughness I learned from the Navy and the Naval Academy that translates well into golf," he said. "But the pressures and the life are very different."