The Pepper Mill

May 11, 2008

TO GLIMPSE thegeneration gap between today's up-and-comers and the players from my era, lookat Vicky Hurst and Juli Inkster. Hurst is a 17-year-old high school senior fromMelbourne, Fla., who leads the Duramed Futures tour money list. (The top fiveat year's end get LPGA tour cards.) Ever on the fast track, Hurst (below) hadspoken about skipping graduation on May 17 to play in a tournament in Kansas.The 47-year-old Inkster, on the other hand, will end her streak of 56consecutive majors by forgoing the LPGA Championship to attend her daughterCori's eighth-grade graduation. I had the opportunity to play with Vicky lastNovember, after she won the Futures qualifying school, and was impressed withher skills—she was powerful off the tee and terrific with the long irons,although her short game needed some work. In my opinion a year or two incollege would have served her well, but she had already decided to turn pro.Vicky has matured quicker than most after losing her dad, Joe, to a stroke twoyears ago, but I still feel that kids are shortchanging themselves by skippingso many life moments. Having roommates and teammates and no money list loomingis worth experiencing. Lorena Ochoa, among others, has talked openly about theimportance of college in making her a more complete person. Thankfully, Vickydecided to attend graduation, so she'll at least have that memory.

LORENA HAS notbeen shy about saying that she believes she can win all four majors this year,but what are her chances? Pretty good. After a five-stroke win at the KraftNabisco, she moves to the LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock, in Havre de Grace,Md., where she has never finished out of the top 10. The Women's British Opensite, Sunningdale, plays to her strength—big tee shots—by starting with twopar-5s that set the tone for each round. Her greatest challenge will be theU.S. Women's Open at Interlachen, outside Minneapolis. Interlachen is thetoughest test from a course-management perspective, with many holes bendingopposite the slopes of the fairways. At least Ochoa will have caddie DaveBrooker (right) at her side. He's one of the best and worked with Carin Koch atthe 2002 Solheim Cup at Interlachen.

Dottie Pepper, a17-year LPGA veteran and an analyst at NBC and Golf Channel, welcomes lettersat dottie@siletters.com.

PHOTODAVID WALBERG (PEPPER)
PHOTODAVID WALBERG (HURST) PHOTOROBERT BECK (BROOKER)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)