BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 19, 2008 - Rookie Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., carded an even-par 71 to win her fifth tournament and close out the 2008 Duramed FUTURES Tour season at the inaugural $150,000 Duramed Invitational.
Hurst held off a final-round charge from 2007 Tour winner Vikki Laing (71) of Musselburgh, Scotland, to finish with a three-day total of 211 (-2). Laing ended one stroke back with a three-round score of 212 (-1).
Hurst claimed the top $21,000 paycheck and received respective trophies for Tour Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year honors. She was awarded an additional $5,000 from Duramed for her season accomplishments. It counts as another official win for Hurst, but monies earned at the Duramed Invitational were unofficial.
"I wanted to play a great tournament and I just tried to stay focused all week," Hurst said. "This was my chance to prove to myself that I've worked hard all season."
It was anything but a flashy final round for the five-time Tour winner, as she mixed in three birdies and three bogeys, but the timing couldn't have been better as it became a "Battle of the Vickies" down the stretch.
Hurst broke a late tie at 2-under par with Laing on the 16th hole, holing a 20-foot par putt that proved pivotal as the last three holes unfolded. She would follow with a seven-foot birdie putt on the potentially hazardous 17th hole to take a two-shot lead and seal her fifth win.
"When I made the (20 foot) putt (for par) on No. 16, I felt like I was going to win," Hurst said. "After I made that putt, I felt like I was ready for the LPGA Tour. The 17th hole is probably the toughest hole we've had to play all year."
Laing gave Hurst all she could handle in Sunday's final round, taking a two-shot lead on No. 11 after a birdie on the 10th hole. Hurst made up the deficit after Laing made bogey on No. 14 and 16.
"Coming down the stretch I didn't hole anything and you need one or two of those," said Laing, winner of the 2007 Gettysburg Championship. "She (Vicky) has a great golf swing and rolls the ball well on the green. She's doing all the right things."
Added Hurst, "She (Vikki) played really well and drained some tough putts while making great shots all day."
It was a year to be chronicled for the 18-year-old Hurst, who won tournaments in McAllen, Texas, Decatur, Ill., Hammond, Ind., Bloomfield, Conn., and Braselton, Ga. She shattered the Tour's single-season earnings mark previously held by Tour alum and LPGA Tour member Beth Bauer and officially recorded nine top-10 finishes in 13 events, and a total of 10 top-10 finishes in all 14 events she entered.
The Duramed FUTURES Tour is saying goodbye to one of its most accomplished players in its 28-year history, but the memories are forever etched in Hurst's mind as she prepares to move on to the LPGA Tour in 2009.
"For it to be my last Duramed FUTURES Tour event and see the staff members and the players for the last time, it was pretty special to get a win," Hurst said. "The journey isn't over for me. I want to stay focused on the future and not look back in the past."
The special on-course chemistry with her mother and caddie, Koko, continued to the very end as Vicky thanked her best friend at the awards ceremony.
"Mom and I are a great team," Vicky said. "I didn't do it -- we did it."
For complete scores and more information, visit www.duramedfuturestour.com.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images