VICKY HURST etched her name in the record books after only one season on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. By age 18 and still in her first year as a professional, she was the LPGA developmental tour's 2008 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
She also won five tournaments and shattered the previous single-season earnings record by $11,578, setting a new official single-season earnings mark of $93,107 and $114,107 in total earnings. Hurst became the fourth player in 10 years to win four or more tournaments on the Duramed FUTURES Tour.
With her first professional win in McAllen, Texas, she became the Tour's youngest-ever professional winner at 17 years, 10 months and eight days old. At the 2008 Jalapeno Duramed FUTURES Golf Classic, she set a new 54-hole scoring record of 198 (-18), with rounds of 67-67-64. That par-72 score eclipsed the 1999 mark set by GRACE PARK of 200 (-16) on a par-72 course, and the par-71 scores set by CRISTINA KIM (14-under 199) and LORENA OCHOA (14-under 199), both recorded in 2002.
Hurst finished No. 1 on the 2008 Duramed FUTURES Tour money list and earned her full LPGA Tour membership for 2009. So far this year as an LPGA Tour rookie, she has posted three top-10 finishes, including a career-best tie for fifth at the LPGA Corning Classic. She is ranked No. 46 on the LPGA's money list with official earnings of $269,356, and currently is ranked 63rd on the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.
Statistically, Hurst's low 18-hole score this season was a 63, and she currently holds the LPGA's top driving average at 273.2 yards.
Here's what she had to say to Duramed FUTURES Tour senior writer Lisa D. Mickey last week when Hurst stopped by LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.:
DFT: How would you describe your rookie year so far?
Hurst: I came into the season with high hopes of playing well and finishing high every week. I was sort of satisfied with how I was playing but as the season went on, I wanted to do even better. Every week, I'm more and more comfortable on the LPGA Tour, but rookies have a disadvantage because everything is new. You learn so much. I can say that I want to win every tournament I play and I want to be the top rookie, but I think I started the season not experienced enough to know what that takes. I was missing a plan. I was focusing more on the result instead of the plan to reach my goal. Out here is a lot different than it is on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. You travel a lot more and now it's all about golf. The golf part is easy; the tough part is dealing with fans, media, other players, traveling every week and being really organized. My mom [Koko Hurst] travels with me and that helps a lot. I'm still very young, but I've already learned so much.
DFT: What has been the biggest surprise this season?
Hurst: No surprises, really. I had played in LPGA events before, so I knew what they were like, but it's about getting a routine that works. These girls who have been out on the LPGA Tour for five to 10 years know what they're doing. They know what they're doing when they travel, too. I've only had a couple of bags luggage that didn't make it, but it's tough when you're trying to prepare for a tournament and your clubs don't show up. I guess one surprise was in France this year when a hotel where the players were staying caught on fire. Amy Yang was on the second floor and they had to throw a mattress out the window and jump. I didn't go to that tournament and I didn't have to jump out of a window. Still, I think you learn that so many things are out of your control, like a hotel burning down or an airline losing your stuff, and sometimes it's just hard to stay focused on your golf game.
DFT: You have always played with such a calm demeanor. There are some pretty fiery players out on the LPGA Tour. Has your exterior calm changed?
Hurst: Laugter You just think I'm calm! No, the more I see some other players going crazy out there, the calmer I get.
DFT: It seems that the biggest transition for players from the developmental tour to the LPGA is finding and working well with a caddie. Is that true?
Hurst: Oh yeah, it's really tough. The top players are the ones with the great player/caddie teams. I've tried four different caddies, and now I have John Cunningham on my bag. He is not a professional caddie, but an agent who actually manages Iny race car driver Sarah Fisher. I've tried caddies who have had wins and who have been out there for years. They know what they're doing and give you the right clubs and yardages, but for me, I need somebody who can keep me loose and relaxed. I talk to my caddie a lot on the course. It's different for everyone.
DFT: If you had to complete this sentence - "If I knew then, what I know now ..." - how would you complete it moving from your Player-of-the-Year success last year to being a rookie on the LPGA Tour this season?
Hurst: I wouldn't change anything. It helped me a lot to start on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. It's the same thing as the LPGA, tournament to tournament, just with fewer events. It really is the same thing, just on a smaller scale. But there are some things I would do differently this year. On the LPGA, you have to fly everywhere and you have to be very organized with paperwork and luggage. Last year, we just packed up the car and took off. My "big sister" on the LPGA is Rachel Hetherington. If I could go back and do this year over, I'd talk to her more. So many times, I had so many questions. Rachel helped me a lot and so did Lorie Kane and her caddie. So if I had to give any advice to future rookies, I'd tell them to be sure to talk to their "big sister."
DFT: The Golf Channel put a microphone on you a few weeks ago during tournament play. What did you think of that experience?
Hurst: I liked it, but the camera guy was right beside me. That's why you probably heard me tell my caddie to stay with me. It was a good opportunity for exposure and for my sponsors. It felt cool to be wired. I felt like James Bond.
DFT: Now that you've made a little prize money this year, have you made any fun new purchases?
Hurst: I haven't bought a car yet, but I'm going to buy a little car in the off-season that's big enough for my clubs. Not a Smart Car, though. I did get my bathroom renovated at home. And I bought a JPK purse.
DFT: What has been your most exciting off-course adventure this season during your rookie year?
Hurst: I helped build a house for Habitat For Humanity when we were in Williamsburg, Va. That tournament is a lot of fun. I also rode the roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Virginia. I was riding beside Sean Pyun, who works for the LPGA. That roller coaster dropped straight down and it was pretty scary. I'm sure I saw tears in his eyes. Laugter
DFT: When you are able to come home to Florida during the Tour's off-weeks, what do you do with your free time?
Hurst: I relax, meet up with my friends and go to the gym. I need to do a better job of working out.
DFT: Are you surprised that you are the LPGA's longest hitter this year?
Hurst: Yes and no. I've always powered the ball, but I'm surprised because I'm pretty young. I'm pleased to be No. 1 in driving. If I'm No. 1 in anything on the LPGA, that's good!
DFT: What is the best advice you're received this year?
Hurst: To use my time wisely. It's easy to go to these tournaments and spend all day at the golf course. It's really important to make time for something else. I'm going to these amazing places around the world and I need to do more of that - to get out and see things away from golf. It's just hard because this year, I feel like I've needed to be out there practicing all day. A lot of rookies do that. Next year will probably be easier because I'll know more about the tournaments and the courses. I'll spend more time relaxing and exploring.
DFT: That said, have you managed to do any fun sight-seeing this year?
Hurst: After the RIO Women's British Open, we stayed over there for two weeks and went to Paris. We walked about 15 miles a day and took pictures. I could have used better time management in Paris, for sure, but I got some great photos. They really know how to cook over there.
DFT: What does the rest of your 2009 season look like?
Hurst: I'm doing an Under Armour photo shoot in Las Vegas this week with [PGA Tour player] Hunter Mahan and [European Tour player] Ross Fisher. Under Armour is my apparel sponsor, along with Callaway Golf for equipment and Zero Friction golf tees. And I'm playing in the Mia Hamm Foundation Charity Golf Tournament this week in North Carolina. I played a lot of competitive soccer growing up and I was a huge Mia Hamm fan. She was always my hero. Even now when I see her, I'm like 'Woah, it's Mia Hamm!'
DFT: What is your best memory of playing on the Duramed FUTURES Tour?
Hurst: I miss the girls out there. They're really fun and easy-going. There's a lot less chat on the LPGA. It's different now, with more money. I also miss how all the tournaments were fairly close to each other and everybody just hops into their cars and drives to the next tournament. We had some long highway drives last year, but it was still a lot of fun.
Topics: Hurst, Vicky