Leesburg native Hurley III in mix at AT&T National

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Leesburg native Hurley III in mix at AT&T National

A little more than three years ago, Billy Hurley III was a Navy officer aboard a destroyer charged with protecting Iraqi oil platforms in the Persian Gulf.
On Thursday, the 30-year-old was at Congressional Country Club, playing his way into early contention in the AT&T National.
If the journey from active duty to the PGA Tour sounds like an intriguing story, it is and then some.I remember standing on a putting green 12 years ago during Plebe Summer, Hurley said, referring to the Naval Academys training program for incoming freshmen, and telling one of my classmates that I was going to play on the PGA Tour.
He laughed, recalled Hurley, who wasnt a top junior golfer and whose only scholarship offer was from Navy. He was like, Good luck with that.
Hurley, who grew up in Leesburg, Va., and currently lives with his wife and two children in Annapolis, knew it was going to be a difficult path.
He just didnt know how difficult.
During his four years at Navy, Hurley blossomed into a standout golfer, capturing seven collegiate golf titles and captaining the 2004 Palmer Cup team. He also earned a degree in quantitative economics.
Then, all of a sudden my senior year, I just took a couple of steps forward and became good enough to try to become a professional golfer, he said.
The Tour, however, had to wait. First, Hurley had five years of mandatory service in the Navy to serve.
During his time away from game, his sweet swing and short game skills deteriorated. In his words, he had become a recreational golfer.
I played a lot for the first three years, he said. The Navy let me play on the Walker Cup team in 05. But the last two years, I was on a ship in Hawaii and I played very little, probably once a month. I played maybe five competitive rounds in two years out there. It was a hiatus in a sense from golf.
After resigning his commission from the Navy in 2009 and stepping off the USS Chung-Hoon for the final time, Hurley went about fixing his neglected game.
In 2011, he joined the Nationwide Tour and, in 20 starts, amassed one runner up finish, four top-10s and nine top-25s. By finishing 25th on the Nationwides money list, he earned the final tour card on the PGA Tour for 2012.
So far, though, Hurleys transition to professional golfs top rung has been a difficult one. In fact, hes only made the cut five times in 17 starts this season.
Which is why his first-round 69 created such a stir at Congressional.
That and, of course, his unique background and ties to the tournaments support of active and retired members of the military, all of whom receive complimentary tickets and food.
That connection was not lost on Hurley as he carded a round that included three birdies and one bogey.
You have a lot of military out here, which was really fun for me today, Hurley said. There were a lot of Beat Armies getting thrown around there.
Somebody said, Go Army, he cracked. So we had to correct him.

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Morning tip: Weaker the opponent, weaker Wizards' 1st half defense

Morning tip: Weaker the opponent, weaker Wizards' 1st half defense

The starts have to be better,  or 60-point first halves against the likes of the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers will wear down the Wizards by the end of an 82-game season.

The Wizards (20-19) play the Portland Trail Blazers at Verizon Center where they've won 11 in a row.

They came back from a 13-point deficit to beat the Sixers on Saturday, a 12-win team that put up 56 points in the first 24 minutes.

"We had to play harder. We just let them run their offense the way they wanted to run it," Brooks said of the start. "We didn’t make them play with any duress, and we had to do that. We had to put pressure on the ball, we had to put pressure on all the screens, and we wanted to not only challenge shots but to challenge passes because that buys our backside defense time. I thought the guys did a good job.”

It's a troubling trend for the Wizards, who tend to get off on the wrong foot in first quarters against teams that shouldn't be so offensively potent. They allowed the Sixers to score 30 points, 36 to the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls, 32 to the Brooklyn Nets and 33 for the Miami Heat. 

Against the better teams, the Wizards have more of a tendency to hold them to less than 30. In two meetings, the Houston Rockets were limited to 23-point and 14-point first quarters and 23 and 24 for the San Antonio Spurs. 

The ability to play solid defense is there, but the effort isn't. 


[RELATED: By the numbers: Wizards' home streak reaches 11]

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Need to Know: Redskins' cap room could be a dilemma for McClouthan

Need to Know: Redskins' cap room could be a dilemma for McClouthan

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 16, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 44
NFL draft 101
First Sunday of 2017 season 237

A six pack of thoughts to start out the week

1. I think that by the end of the week the Redskins will have two new coordinators. It looks like Matt Cavanaugh will be the offensive coordinator. Haven’t heard why Bill Callahan isn’t getting the nod; it’s possible that he likes what he’s doing now and he’s getting paid as well as many coordinators.

2.  For a quick game with the $100 in imaginary casino chips on the defensive coordinator candidates, I’ll make Greg Manusky the favorite at $40 with Mike Pettine right behind him at $35. I’ll put $10 of the rest on Gus Bradley—we’ve heard of an interview with the Chargers but not anything like a hiring—and $15 on the field. The situation is fluid but that's the way it looks right now. 

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

3. On November 21, after the results of Week 11, the Redskins were 2.5 games ahead of the Packers. They were also a half-game better than of the Falcons. Those two teams are now playing for the NFC title. It’s not how you start, or even how you do in the middle of the season. It’s how you finish.

4. I’m not much of a hockey guy but I think I’ve got to get down to the Verizon Center to see the Caps. They are blazing hot and you can tell it’s a great atmosphere at the VC.

5. I have a feeling that an announcement about a new stadium for the Redskins is going to happen sometime in the next few months. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe can’t run again; he is out of office about a year from today. He’s going to want a legacy item and a state of the art stadium in the commonwealth would fill the bill. The process of approval, financing, and construction will take up most or all of the 10 years that remains on the FedEx Field lease.

More Redskins: The Redskins week that was

6. Normally having a lot of cap space to work with is a good thing but it may not be for Scot McCloughan this year. If the Redskins trim some veterans from the payroll they could go into free agency with around $70 million to spend. McCloughan would prefer to build through the draft. But the current situation almost forces the Redskins to spend. McCloughan took some heat for going into the 2016 season with $15 million in cap space and some unfilled needs on the defensive line and at safety. If they have issues again in 2017 and there is, say, $30 million just sitting there the noise will get louder. And it won’t just be coming from fans and the media; plenty of it will come from the offices of Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.