In his pro golfdebut at the Bay Hill Invitational, Billy Hurley shot a one-under 287 to finish43rd and earn $18,150. Nice, but Hurley is no ordinary Tour rookie. EnsignHurley, a 23-year-old newlywed, is a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academywho has served seven months aboard the missile cruiser USS Gettysburg andremains on active duty. An All-America at Navy and a member of the U.S.'swinning Walker Cup team last year, Hurley will complete two years of activeduty in May and hopes to get permission to spend the next three years in thereserves while pursuing a career on Tour as well as serving as an emissary forthe Navy, the way David Robinson did during his NBA career. Hurley, who wears aNavy logo on his golf shirt, has not yet received official approval for such anarrangement. "They're only interested if you produce," says Hurley.Maybe a few admirals were watching last week. "This can't hurt," Hurleysays.
Four days afterthe Tour introduced a new event in Fresno for its 2007 fall schedule, itlearned that it would lose the title sponsor of another '07 fall tournament. OnMonday, Booz Allen Hamilton announced it would not renew its support of theTour's event in the Washington, D.C., area. "As we look at the move tofall," said Booz Allen chairman Ralph Shrader, "we feel we would beconstrained from having the world-class event we sought."
Greg Owen'sdouble bogey on Bay Hill's 71st hole was especially shocking when you considerthat he was 58 for 58 on putts of six feet or less. Rod Pampling had an evenbetter week, going 64 for 66 on putts of 10 feet or less. Owen's miscues costhim $396,000 in prize money and a berth in the Masters. Second place vaultedhim from 95th to 53rd in the World Ranking, but a win would have moved himinside the top 50, giving him an automatic invitation to Augusta.
•When JuliInkster overcame a six-shot deficit during the final round to win the SafewayInternational with a 15-under 273, it was her first victory in 49 starts ('03Evian Masters) and the 18th time in her 31 career W's that she has come frombehind.
• Alan Shipnuck'sPower Rankings appears every Tuesday at SI.com/Golf.
Survey Says ...
To gain distance, pros are increasing their driverloft. Here is the percent of players who had drivers with lofts of 9.5 degreesor more last week and in the same week of '02. Nick Watney had the most at BayHill with 11.5 degrees.
PGA .....31% ...51%
LPGA ...42% ...54%
The Darrell Survey has tracked equipment usage at proand amateur events since 1938.
"Part of it was wanting to play well for mygrandfather." --MY SHOT, PAGE G32
After dissing Augusta's changes, Arnie ponders a BayHill redo
[AUGUSTA CHANGES * HOOTIE CRITICISM] / LONG HITTERS +BAY HILL CHANGES? = ARNIE'S IRONY
Hurley hopes to go the David Robinson route.