Billy Hurley III and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Coordinate Surprise Homecoming
PGA TOUR player Billy Hurley III showed that he is just as skilled at driving his tee shot as he is driving ships in the Persian Gulf last week when he captured his first PGA TOUR championship at the Quicken Loans National. The first graduate of the United States Naval Academy to become a member of the PGA TOUR as well as the only active TOUR player who has served in the military, Hurley’s victory was all the more sweet, given the tournament’s proximity to his hometown of Leesburg, VA.
Par for the course for Hurley, an ardent supporter of Birdies for the Brave as well as the SEAL Legacy Foundation, Hurley was quick to pay it forward. On Saturday during the military appreciation ceremony at the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, Hurley helped to express gratitude to long-time tournament volunteer U.S. Army Major Tim Jenkins and his family by participating in a surprise homecoming.
Major Jenkins, a 16-year U.S. Army member, has volunteered during the Bridgestone Invitational for five years, working in a variety of capacities including serving on the mobile device committee and helping to coordinate military appreciation activities. This year, although he is currently deployed to Kuwait, Major Jenkins continues to volunteer remotely by serving on the volunteer recruitment committee – while he is also helping to raise funds for local charities by participating in the PGA TOUR Volunteer Challenge, a friendly competition in which supporters can visit www.pgatour.com/volunteers and vote for their favorite tournament volunteer. Major Jenkins was previously scheduled to return home later this summer, and will then assume a new position with NATO Land Command in Turkey; however, the Bridgestone Invitational and Birdies for the Brave worked with Major Jenkins and U.S. Army representatives to help coordinate an early visit home and a big surprise for his wife, Rania, and their four children.
Rania Jenkins and her children – one of whom is a specialist in the Ohio National Guard – were invited to the military appreciation ceremony during the Bridgestone Invitational under the guise of accepting Major Jenkins’ five-year volunteer service pin on his behalf. Unbeknownst to the family, Major Jenkins was waiting in the wings to surprise them on stage. Major Jenkins describes the moment his family first glimpsed him on stage as “priceless;” but the TOUR was not done with its surprises yet. To make the day truly unforgettable for the entire family, Major Jenkins – a huge golf fan – was stunned as Hurley, one of his favorite players, appeared at the podium to recognize Jenkins’ volunteer efforts and present him with his five-year pin.
“I am speechless,” said Major Jenkins after the surprise homecoming. “To be given the opportunity to surprise my family in this way was an extraordinary gift, and I am very grateful to the Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave for making it happen. And then to have Billy Hurley take time away from his busy schedule during a tournament, on the heels of winning his first PGA TOUR title…that speaks volumes about his character and his passion for giving back. I really feel incredibly blessed!”
The Jenkins family had an opportunity to relax and reconnect while watching the final round on Sunday as guests of the tournament and the TOUR, including an opportunity to meet other TOUR players and share camaraderie with fellow service members in the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost military-exclusive hospitality chalet.
Hurley is a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Quantitative Economics and was named an Academic All-American. While at the Academy, he represented the United States in the Walker Cup and the Palmer Cup, and received the prestigious Byron Nelson Award. He also won seven collegiate golf titles, was named 2004 Patriot League Player of the Year, and was ranked the #6 amateur player in the world. After his graduation from the Academy, he was commissioned an Ensign and assigned to the USS Gettysburg, a guided-missile cruiser based in Mayport, Florida, where he was a combat electronic division officer. He turned professional in 2006, playing a limited number of PGA TOUR events on sponsors’ exemptions while serving in the U.S. Navy teaching economics at the Naval Academy. From 2007 to 2009, he served a tour of duty in the Persian Gulf aboard the destroyer USS Chung-Hoon. He returned to professional golf following his retirement from the Navy, and earned his PGA TOUR card by finishing 25th on the 2011 Web.com Tour Money List. Highlights from his rookie season on the TOUR included a 4th place finish at the AT&T National and 8th at the John Deere Classic. The career-altering victory at the Quicken Loans National has earned Hurley a two-year TOUR exemption, including spots in this week’s Bridgestone Invitational as well as the British Open, PGA Championship, Tournament of Champions, and a first trip to the Masters. There is no doubt that Major Jenkins and his family will be cheering for their favorite player every step of the way.
Named by the White House among the top 20 charities in the U.S. that support military families, Birdies for the Brave was created in 2006 by PGA TOUR player Phil Mickelson, whose father was a Navy fighter pilot, and his wife, Amy, to support troops injured during combat. Birdies for the Brave was subsequently adopted by the TOUR and expanded to include a variety of military outreach and appreciation activities during tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR Champions, including the TOUR’s Military Ticketing Program. In addition, in collaboration with TOUR players, fans, sponsors and TPC members across the U.S., Birdies for the Brave has raised more than $17 million for 11 military homefront charities that directly serve wounded warriors, veterans and military families.
For more information about Birdies for the Brave, please visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.