Year After Tragedy Hurst Gets LPGA Chance
She was 15.
And her father -- her mentor, her biggest fan -- was gone.
Vicky Hurst got the call from her mother while waiting out a thunderstorm before playing in the LPGA's Ginn Open qualifying event, where she was expected to win a spot in the tournament field. Instead, still anguished, she and her mom wound up seeing the Ginn's third round as fans, quietly mingling among the gallery.
'I wasn't going to go,' Vicky says now, quietly, eyes looking down a bit. 'But he would have wanted that.'
And Joe Hurst would have loved what's coming next week.
His daughter will be alongside Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and newly crowned major champion Morgan Pressel in this year's Ginn Open in Reunion, Fla., on a sponsor's exemption. It'll be the second LPGA start for Hurst, who missed the cut at the U.S. Women's Open -- Joe Hurst's favorite event -- last summer.
'I will get nervous,' said Vicky, who signed up to play a practice round with Sorenstam at the Women's Open last summer. 'But I know what it's like now. I'm not used to it yet, but I know what to expect. And it doesn't make me that nervous. Makes me more excited than anything.'
Hurst's golf resume is already impressive.
She shot a 10-under 62 -- with a few missed birdie putts -- to win a high school district title in 2005, then shot 64 to win last year's Florida Class 1A state crown. She was second at last summer's U.S. Girls' Amateur and has won a slew of tournaments against other top juniors.
Given how she came into the world, none of that can be surprising.
Koko Hurst was about 39 weeks pregnant in June 1990 when she, her husband -- an Air Force colonel -- and two other men played golf at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Koko's doctor cleared her to play.
They were on their 16th hole when Koko's water broke. Joe Hurst had just hit one of his best shots of the day, setting up a 5-foot birdie try. Joe never took his putt. They left the ball on the green and darted for a nearby hospital.
'Vicky was born in two hours,' Koko said. 'I was beating all three guys when we left, too.'
Golf is in the Hurst bloodlines. Vicky's grandfather was 93 when he went out and played nine holes, set up a tee time for the next day, went to sleep and never awoke. Koko Hurst, who met her husband while he was stationed in her native Korea, was an accomplished club player. And Vicky's sister Kelly is a promising freshman on Florida's women's golf team.
Out of himself, his wife and two daughters, Joe Hurst was probably the fourth-best player.
'He was, you know, just a regular hacker,' said Vicky, a junior at Holy Trinity Episcopal in Melbourne. 'He loved golf. Every chance he got, he would go off to the golf course. He wasn't my coach or anything; he didn't know that much about the fundamentals of the game. But he always encouraged me.'
And his girls play in his memory.
When Kelly Hurst is home, she and Vicky are inseparable. They played a practice round together recently at their home course, Suntree Country Club in Melbourne, and other members greeted them everywhere they went -- the driving range, on the course, near the pool, even in the dining room where they munched on steak and salad for dinner with their mother afterward.
In fact, the girls are so close that when the family threw out Kelly's old bed a couple years ago, she didn't use a new one. Vicky has a king-sized one in her room, so Kelly just bunked there with her sister.
'We always just support each other,' Kelly said. 'I'm always so excited to watch her. There's never once that I've wanted her to fail at something. She handles everything so well. She doesn't show a lot of emotion when she wins or when she loses. It's tough, even for me, to understand sometimes how she's always so calm.'
That calmness was tested last summer.
Joe Hurst had been gone for about two months when Vicky went to play the U.S. Girls' Amateur. In the final against Jenny Shin, Hurst was three holes up with four holes left in the 36-hole match play final.
A birdie putt on the 35th hole would have won it and just slipped by. A two-putt from 25 feet on the 36th hole would have won it, and she couldn't deliver. On the first playoff hole, after her tee ball went into the water and a third shot found a bunker, Hurst conceded on the spot.
'It was tough,' she said. 'I learned a lot from those holes, that shot in the water.'
But the collapse didn't devastate Hurst. Quite the contrary; she says it inspired her to work harder toward playing on the LPGA Tour full time sometime soon, although she hasn't ruled out college, either.
She says she's undecided between college and turning pro. A good showing at the Ginn could change that.
'I've got the shots, I've got the distance,' Vicky said. 'But mentally, I don't know if I'm there yet. I've got time to figure it out.'
Related Links: Full Coverage - Ginn Open
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.