Billy Hurley III pens touching letter to late father

Billy Hurley III
USA Today Sports Images
In an open letter to his late father published by the Players Tribune, Billy Hurley III celebrates the life -- and shows forgiveness -- to the man who rocked his family's world by taking his own life in 2015.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 | 9:59 a.m.

You probably know the story by now, but in case you need a refresher, here it is...

PGA Tour pro Billy Hurley III -- a veteran of the Navy -- was elated in 2015 to be playing near his family home in Virginia at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club for the Quicken Loans National.

Before the event teed off, Hurley faced the media to make a plea: help him find his missing father, Willard Hurley Jr., a man who served many years as a police officer in that area of the country and also walked inside those same ropes at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club serving as a security guard for early Presidents Cups in the 1990s.

Hurley III found out that week that his father had actually already been missing for eight days. Totally uncharacteristic of the man who introduced golf to Hurley III.

Just a couple days after Hurley III's plea, his father was found safe in Texas. He told authorities that he was simply, "traveling" and fine.

This was confusing to the entire Hurley family. Their dad had literally just got up and left for no apparent reason -- at least no reason that they could wrap their heads around.

Once he was found, Hurley Jr. still didn't make a trip back home. Just weeks after he was found safe, Hurley Jr. was then found by the edge of the Potomac dead, the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Wow. It wasn't the outcome anyone was hoping for to say the least.

Fast forward a year later. The younger Hurley who had been trying to make sense of it all was finally playing some good golf when the Tour stopped at Congressional for the same tournament -- Quicken Loans National -- from a year earlier where it was made public that the elder Hurley was missing.

Wouldn't you know it, Hurley III went out and won the darn thing.

Surreal.

Don't get it twisted: A PGA Tour win isn't worth more than a life. But in this case, it was the ultimate when it came to allowing the healing process to begin. Things came full circle for Hurley III.

That brings us to today, Feb. 14. 2017.

In a beautiful, lengthy letter published by the Players Tribune, Hurley III penned words of forgiveness to his late father.

Wrote Hurley III:

After 18 months of reading stories about your death, our family has decided to focus on something else: your life.

In our minds, the world needs to know the real you.

Hurley III went on to talk about what it was like being raised by the man he so much loved, a proud, dotting dad.

Toward the end, Hurley III summed up the 2016 Quicken Loans victory and what it meant for the grieving family:

Winning a tournament made it O.K. to celebrate life again. It made it O.K. to have joy again. Winning closed a chapter in my life. I would have made it through the grief process without winning, but the fact that I did flipped everything from, "My dad committed suicide," to, "My dad was a great man."

And that's what you were, Dad. You were a great, great man.

It's a sensational letter that's worth your time.  

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.