All of the paperwork says that Vicky Hurst is a teenager and an LPGA Tour rookie, so the origins of her 40-year-old cerebral cortex are a mystery.
Hurst wants to shoot low scores, wants to win tournaments, but she spends little time pondering such things. She concentrates on the next shot, or to be more precise, preparation for the next shot.
"It doesn't matter where you are, what tournament it is," she said. "You've just got to keep it really simple and focus on the next shot. That's all you can really do."
Hurst, 18, is one year removed from high school in Melbourne, Fla., and just months removed from a dominant performance on the Duramed Futures Tour in 2008. She won five events, finished top-10 in five others and set a record for mini-tour earnings with better than $93,000.
That earned her an LPGA Tour card for 2009 and provided invaluable experience as she got a jump-start on her professional career.
"There's so much more of everything out here," Hurst said after Thursday's first round of the Michelob Ultra Open. "Media, fans, the courses are longer, tougher. Out here, all players can shoot a low score and win, have the ability to win. But the attitude I try to keep is focusing on what I can do and what's under my control, because all that other stuff I can't control."
Such as playing partners and galleries. Hurst was paired with fellow rookie Michelle Wie and with 2009 Kraft Nabisco champ Brittany Lincicome in one of the tournament's marquee threesomes.
Wie, 19, has practically grown up in front of us, though she has yet to realize the vast potential she first displayed as a 12-year-old. She still occupies an outsized amount of attention in women's golf because of her appearance, her length off the tee and that very promise.
"Fans come out and watch her," Hurst said, "and it's good for me. I get exposure, too."
Indeed, Hurst was unfazed by Wie's gravitational pull Thursday and isn't likely to be bothered today, either.
She was at 4 under before giving back two shots with consecutive bogeys on the home stretch and settling for a 2-under 69. Wie finished at 1-under 70, while Lincicome shot 3-over 74.
Hurst betrayed little emotion Thursday, more a function of a fairly flat round, she said, than her personality. Five birdies, three bogeys. Nothing worthy of a leaping chest bump, or of tomahawking an iron into the soggy Kingsmill River Course turf, either.
"I mean, I'm out here," she said, "and really, there's nothing to worry about. If I just stay prepared before every tournament and every shot, there's nothing to worry about."
Hurst was a decorated junior player growing up in Florida, the 2007 American Junior Golf Association Player of the Year and a Junior Solheim Cup team member. She considered college, but in the end chose to turn pro.
"It was a tough decision," she said, "but this is my dream to play out here. I had an opportunity that most people don't have, and I took it."
Hurst graduated from high school last May and then took off.
"When that's your only focus, every tournament, you really improve fast," she said. "You learn that every practice shot you hit counts, and it adds up at the end when you're out on the course."
Don't confuse mature with stuffy. Playful and engaging, Hurst's tour rookie blog site on LPGA.com includes entries on a New Year's Eve trip to New York City, and one she titled "Man's Best Friend" — an ode to the life and death of her pet fish, RedRum Jr.
A brief excerpt: "Death is always a sad process, but it's part of life and the world moves on. Maybe I'll get a snake next."
Hurst is 5-foot-8 and one of the tour's longer hitters. She is third in driving distance (276.0 yards), but presently scores better than she hits. She ranks just 105th in fairways hit and is tied for 65th in greens in regulation, but is 38th in scoring thanks to a solid putting game.
She is 45th on the money list ($54,087) and just recorded her first top-10 LPGA Tour finish, a tie for 10th at the Corona Championship in Mexico. In hindsight, she said, she probably should have finished a little higher, but it's all a process.
"That's my goal right now," she said. "Just taking something from every week."
Hurst's mental wiring and ability suggest that in the very near future, the lessons she takes each week will be accompanied by large checks and trophies.
Dave Fairbank can be reached at 247-4637 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Fairbank, read his blog at dailypress.com/fromthetarpit.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times