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Navy's Hurley in contention at AT&T

BETHESDA, Md. -- If Billy Hurley III could have hand-picked a tournament to win, it might be the AT&T National. There is a very strong military presence around the event and the area is home to the Pentagon and Department of Defense. At the first and 10th tee on Saturday, a Marine introduced the players.

Hurley, a former Navy lieutenant and surface warfare officer in the Persian Gulf, carded a 5-under-par 66 on Saturday and is 2 shots off the lead with one round to play.

"It was a lot more scoreable today," said Hurley, who is 5 under through three rounds. "But I wouldn't go as far as to say it was easy. You saw some balls actually spin back, some mid-irons sort of stay where they hit and that sort of thing."

The AT&T is essentially a hometown event for the 30-year-old, second-year PGA Tour player. He is a Naval Academy graduate and a native of Leesburg, Va., which is about 40 miles from Congressional.

This is a very surprising showing for Hurley, who had missed six cuts in a row before getting a tie for 47th last week at the Travelers Championship.

Hurley, who learned how to concentrate in quiet solitude in long hours aboard the USS-Chung Hoon in the Northern Arabian Gulf while guarding Iraq's oil terminals, had mixed feelings about all the alone time the players had on Saturday without the galleries.

"You know, it was a little strange a couple times, you make a nice putt, and you're like, OK, well move on," he said. "But at the same time it was sort of peaceful out there and easy to get around."