PGA Tour

Hometown hero Hurley holds off Els

2016-06-27 06:44
Billy Hurley III, right, is congratulated by Ernie Els (AP)

Bethesda - Billy Hurley sank a 35-yard chip shot and 27-foot putt for late birdies on Sunday to hold off major champions Vijay Singh and Ernie Els and win his first PGA title at the National by three strokes.

The 607th-ranked local hero, who grew up and resides within an hour's drive of the course, fired a two-under par 69 to finish 72 holes on 17-under 267 at Congressional Country Club in the Tiger Woods-hosted event.

"Couldn't think of a better tournament for my first PGA Tour win," Hurley said. "I'm thrilled I could get it done."

Hurley, whose father died last August of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was in tears with his family as they celebrated the victory on the 18th green.

"It has been a hard year," Hurley said. "It's nice to have something to be happy about."

Fiji's Singh, a three-time major winner who matched the day's low round with a 65, could have become the oldest winner in PGA history at age 53 but settled for second on 270, one stroke ahead of American Bill Haas and 21-year-old Spaniard Jon Rahm in his professional debut.

"I played really well and I'm happy I was aggressive all week," Singh said. "I hit the ball great all week and today was the best. I made some putts so that made it easier."

South Africa's Els, a 46-year-old four-time major winner, was one stroke behind Hurley at the turn but faded on the back nine to shoot 72 and finish fifth on 272.

Clinging to a one-stroke lead over Singh, Hurley holed a stunning chip from the fairway at the 15th, then followed with a long birdie putt at 16. Singh, ranked 210th, closed bogey-birdie while Hurley parred 17 and 18 for the victory.

Hurley, 34, spent five years in the US Navy before making the tour and had not finished in the top 30 of a stroke-play event for more than a year.

Hurley, Singh, Rahm and US rookie Harold Varner took four available berths in next month's British Open as top finishers not already qualified to play at Royal Troon.

"It's nice to be back at Troon again. It was my first British Open," said Singh, who remains in an eight-year win drought.

Rahm missed a chance to be the first pro debutante winner since Russell Henley in 2013 but had no complaints.

"I had a lot of fun," Rahm said. "I played great. It was a really good day. I learned a lot."

Els, ranked 296th, could not end a three-year title drought on the same layout where he won the 1997 US Open. He has not won since the European Tour's 2013 BMW International and has not won a US tournament since 2010 at Bay Hill.

Leading scores after Sunday's final round of the US PGA National at Congressional Country Club (par 71, USA unless noted):

267 - Billy Hurley 66-65-67-69

270 - Vijay Singh (FIJ) 68-66-71-65

271 - Jon Rahm (ESP) 64-67-70-70, Bill Haas 66-69-68-68

272 - Ernie Els (RSA) 66-69-65-72

274 - Webb Simpson 67-68-68-71

275 - Harold Varner 66-69-70-70

276 - Francesco Molinari (ITA) 69-73-69-65, Robert Garrigus 67-69-70-70

277 - Smylie Kaufman 67-73-70-67, Rob Oppenheim 69-71-69-68

278 - Chris Kirk 72-70-71-65, Andres Gonzales 69-72-69-68, David Hearn (CAN) 70-67-72-69, Justin Thomas 69-69-70-70, Kevin Streelman 71-68-69-70, Nick Taylor (CAN) 69-70-69-70, Aaron Baddeley (AUS) 73-68-66-71

279 - John Huh 72-69-73-65, Derek Fathauer 71-70-71-67

280 - Martin Laird (SCO) 68-72-72-68, Jim Furyk 73-68-71-68, Hudson Swafford 70-69-71-70, Robert Streb 69-70-71-70, Mark Hubbard 67-69-73-71, Sam Saunders 67-70-72-71, Daniel Summerhays 70-69-70-71, Gary Woodland 69-69-69-73

Read more on:    pga tour  |  ernie els  |  vijay singh  |  golf

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