The date was June 19, 1990 when Koko Hurst was pregnant with Vicky as she played a round of golf at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington DC, with her husband, Joe, a retired Air Force colonel. As she teed it up on the 16th hole, there was a delay.
“Mom just looked at Dad and said, ‘I think we need to go the hospital now,’ ” Vicky Hurst said. “I’m sure Dad was squawking to just hit the ball. But her water had broken and it was time to go. Two hours later, there I was.”
Hurst would take the family passion a few steps further.
By age 12, she was wearing the Newsboy cap made famous by Ben Hogan and Payne Stewart. She did it in honor of family favorite Stewart, who died in a plane crash in 1999. She still wears it to this day.
“I was just getting into golf,” Hurst said. “My mom bought a hat one day, I tried it on and it stuck. It’s gotten to the point where people don’t recognize me unless I’m wearing the cap.”
She also lived up to Stewart’s level of play. Supported by the women members at Suntree Country Club in Melbourne, Fla., who wore the caps also, Hurst stormed through the national junior ranks. By the time she completed her junior year in high school, Hurst opted to turn professional.
In 2008, at age 17, she competed full-time on the Futures Tour – now the Symetra Tour – and won a record five times, earned $93,107 and was named Rookie and Player of the Year.
Hurst was ready to become a new-fangled teenage prodigy the next year, alongside fellow rookie Michelle Wie (Hurst is eight months younger than Wie). At age 18, Hurst finished fifth in one tournament, made a hole in one and led the LPGA in Driving Distance with a 272-yard average. By 2011, Hurst had made the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
Take all of this success in and realize what was gained could quickly be lost. By 2012, Hurst was beset with a nagging left wrist injury that grew worse over the next two seasons. She sat out the second half of 2014 and returned earlier this season.
“My wrist still bothers me some; it’s an injury that’s the result of overuse,” said Hurst, who wears a support on her left wrist. “In 2014, I could barely swing and grip a club. I could barely hold a pot of water. I knew I needed to see a doctor. I was told this is so common in golf. I had to learn to manage the pain and be smart on a day-to-day basis.”
Hurst started 2015 with plans to play both the LPGA, where she has some status, and the Symetra Tour. That changed three weeks ago when Hurst won the WB Mason Championship in suburban Boston, her first victory since the win-filled 2008 season on the Symetra Tour. On the LPGA this season, she has missed five cuts and withdrew once.
“It meant a lot, but more so because it’s part of the process for me,” Hurst, 25, said. “I don’t think I’m there yet in my comeback from the injury. It was great to win and great to feel the pressure of being in the lead on the final day. I didn’t get ahead of myself. It boosted my confidence and that will help down the road.”
Hurst has made the decision to focus on the Symetra Tour the remainder of this season, in hopes of finishing in the top 10 and returning to the LPGA fulltime.
“My game has been all about rebuilding this year,” Hurst said. “I’ve been working on a lot of things with my swing and I’m glad to see it coming together. I won’t try to do anything crazy the rest of this year. Just stay in my routine and my practice schedule and see what happens.”