Year After Tragedy Hurst Gets LPGA Chance

By Associated PressApril 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Ginn OpenMELBOURNE, Fla. -- A year has passed, but to Vicky Hurst, it's still a blur. The phone call with the news. The few hours in the hospital, before the life-support machines got turned off. The shock. The funeral.
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
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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.