Deutsche Bank notebook: Billy Hurley III takes issue with Colin Kaepernick
NORTON — Sports and politics were woven together once again when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the national anthem last week for a third preseason game in a protest against racial injustice.
While there was an immediate backlash against Kaepernick’s move (some called him unpatriotic and said members of the military deserve respect for their sacrifices), signs of support for the quarterback started to emerge, particularly behind a hashtag “VeteransForKaepernick.”
Billy Hurley III, who is in this week’s field at the Deutsche Bank Championship, is a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He paused when asked about his thoughts on Kaepernick before giving a thoughtful answer.
“I think he’s made it very clear that he’s not trying to disrespect the military in anyway, and obviously that’s an important part of it to me,” he said. “The great part about America is that we have those freedoms, and that’s what the Navy is there for, that’s what the military is there for, to protect our freedoms, to protect us and keep us safe. So he gets that right to do that as an American.
“Obviously I don’t agree with it, and I think there might be a better way to go about it, but that’s what he has the right to do.”
Hurley captured the Quicken Loans National at Congressional for his first career PGA Tour win in June, less than a year after his father committed suicide. Winning the tournament gave him a spot at Royal Troon for the British Open, but he passed that up because it conflicted with his sister’s wedding.
Ranked 77th in the FedExCup playoffs, he enters this weekend currently on the wrong side of the bubble to make the 70-man BMW Championship next weekend at Crooked Stick.
“What I have to do this week would be the same if I was 65th or 77th,” he said. “Really, unless you’re guaranteed to be in next week, I don’t think it changes.”
In his only previous appearance at TPC Boston in 2014, Hurley tied for 57th.
“I think it suits (my game) well,” he said. “It’s a good mix of holes, and it’s a good, fun golf course. .?.?. If you hit some good wedges, you’re going to have a good score.”
Reed stays focused
Do not expect Patrick Reed to change his approach now that he is on top of the FedExCup standings following his Barclays victory.
“I feel the same. I’ve been in this position before winning golf tournaments, so the main thing is keep the energy level up and continue to do what I’m doing, and that’s play some golf,” Reed said. “Whether I was No.??1 or No.??100 in FedEx, my goals are still the same, and that is to win golf tournaments and play good golf.”
A more measured approach served Reed well at one of the toughest tracks in golf, in Bethpage Black.
“When I play, I’m always trying to make 100 birdies, and at a golf course like that, you can’t,” he said.
Reed finished in a tie for fourth place last year here, and this marks his fourth appearance at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
“I really like this place. I feel like I’ve played pretty well here,” he said. “I think last year I played solid, so I feel comfortable. So it’s just kind of stick with what we’re doing and continue hopefully to play some good golf.”
A day after he was bypassed by European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke for a spot on the roster, Scotsman Russell Knox was refocusing his goals.
“With Ryder Cup behind me, FedExCup is now my main priority,” he said. “I’m trying to win one of these and try to take the pot of gold.”
While there was little surprise Clarke used two of his three captain’s picks on Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer to give the young Euros some veteran presence, his inclusion of Belgian Thomas Pieters caught some off-guard.
Pieters won last week’s European Tour event in Denmark and was an NCAA champ at Illinois in 2012.
Knox has won twice on the PGA Tour this season, at the HSBC Champions and last month at the Travelers in Cromwell, Conn. He is seventh in FedExCup points and finished 60th at the Barclays.
“It’s sunk in, so there’s nothing I can do,” he said.” I wish them all the best.”
As a dual-citizen with both British and American passports, Knox is eligible to compete for both squads. He hopes to compete for Europe in the future.
U.S. captain Davis Love III will make three of his four captain’s picks following the BMW Championship next weekend and then hold on to one more until after the Tour Championship.