Hurley fires on Fourth of July

American Billy Hurley spent Independence Day shooting a seven-under-par 63 and taking a one-shot lead at the Greenbrier Classic.

The former member of the US Naval Academy fittingly took the lead at the Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, with a superb bogey-free, seven-birdie round that left him one shot clear of nearest challengers Kevin Chappell and Chris Stroud.

The 63 was also his lowest round of the season to date.

“Anytime you play good, it’s great; right?” he smiled. “But certainly, there’s special days of the year for our country, and … being the only person playing this week who has served (in the military) … it adds kind of stuff. So it’s kind of pretty cool, I guess, to shoot 7 under on the Fourth of July.”

Hurley played golf in college but left the game for a few years to join the military. Luckily for him, he was able to pick up right where he left off and still succeed as a professional.

“It’s awesome,” said Stroud, who played with Hurley on Friday. “He went to the military and took off three, four, five years of golf and comes out and gets his game back and gets on TOUR.

“There’s a lot to be said about that. He couldn’t be a more solid guy.”

Troy Matteson was alone in fourth place on seven under, followed by veteran Steve Stricker, Chris Kirk and Brice Garnett tied at six under.

Five more players follow on five under, including two-time major champion Bubba Watson, who could certainly still make his precense felt over the weekend.

The top four at this point are all still looking for a place at Royal Liverpool later this month, so there’s more than just a PGA Tour victory to play for.