Former LPGA pros using experience to lead alma mater San Jose State to NCAA regionals

San Jose State

Former LPGA pros using experience to lead alma mater San Jose State to NCAA regionals

College

Former LPGA pros using experience to lead alma mater San Jose State to NCAA regionals

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Pat Hurst used to shag her own balls on the baseball field, football field, soccer field – whatever field was available at San Jose State. If she wanted to work on her chipping, her coach had to put in a call. If she wanted to hit balls after dark – mats only.

Boy do the players nowadays have it good.

The newish 15-acre Spartan Golf Complex features two practice putting greens, a strategic short game area, a lighted driving range – with grass.

“If your game doesn’t improve,” said Hurst, “then you’re not one that is going to improve.”

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San Jose State’s rich golf history includes the likes of Juli Inkster, who won 17 times in college, Janice Moodie (11), Tracy Hanson (10), Pat Hurst (8), Patty Sheehan (5) and Dana Lofland (4).

Current players will recognize that last player by her married name, Dana Dormann. Last June Dormann was elevated to head coach of her alma mater after 13-plus seasons as an associate coach to husband John, who retired.

Dormann hired Hurst, her former SJSU teammate, as her assistant. On Monday the two former LPGA pros will lead the eighth-seeded Spartans in Round 1 of the NCAA Cle Elum Regional at Tumble Creek Club in Washington. The top six teams advance to the NCAA Championship in Fayetteville, Ark.

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There’s nothing these players can face that Hurst and Dormann together haven’t already experienced. Whether it’s competing for and winning an NCAA title (both team and individual), an LPGA major or a Solheim Cup. They have eight LPGA titles between them.

“The fun part about it is,” said Hurst, “is being able to tell them how it feels because you’ve been there.”

Dormann recently won a qualifier herself, advancing to the U.S. Senior Women’s Open for a second consecutive year. The only catch: the NCAA Championship and Senior Women’s Open overlap.

Let’s just say this is one time Dormann wouldn’t mind skipping a USGA championship.

“I bleed blue and gold,” she said.

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In probably the most interesting walked-a-mile-in-your-shoes twist, two players on Dormann’s team arrived on campus at age 16. Dormann can relate, having done the same in 1984.

“I definitely feel younger,” said Natasha Andrea Oon, “but I don’t feel like a baby.”

The Malaysian player celebrated her 17th birthday by opening with a 67 in her first collegiate round. Oon went on to win the Minnesota Invitational, the first of two titles in her freshman year.

Abegail Arevalo also arrived at San Jose State from the Philippines after graduating high school at age 15. John Dormann discovered both players at the IMG Academy Junior World Championship, an event Dana won in 1985.

“Even my teammates thought I was too young,” said Arevalo. “The whole athletics (department) thought I was too young. They were kind of skeptical of me, but I kind of proved them wrong.”

San Jose State’s Abegail Arevalo and Pat Hurst (Photo: Anh Dao)

Arevalo, who has eight top 10s this season, has taken Oon under her wing this year and the pair couldn’t be closer, with each taking 2,020 strokes over the course of 28 rounds.

Their 72.14 scoring average helped lead San Jose State to a 27th ranking by Golfweek.

Dormann read about Loyola-Chicago’s “Wall of Culture” during their 2018 NCAA Final Four run. Inspired, she put up a banner with her program’s new motto: “Strong women come from here.” There are other phrases on the wall too, interspersed among the program’s accomplishments.

San Jose State’s “Strong women come from here” sign. (Photo: San Jose State)

Winning used to be at the forefront of Dormann’s coaching style. Now she views winning as a byproduct of a bigger goal.

“It’s life lessons first,” said Hurst, “and then golf second.”

The Spartans have won three NCAA team titles (1987, 1989, 1992). Dormann, this season’s Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, was on the 1987 team and Hurst was there in ’89, taking the individual title as well.

Dormann’s favorite memory from the NCAA Championship was when a teammate’s shot took a favorable bounce off the leg of legendary Arizona State coach Linda Vollstedt.

“Sometimes you have to wait until the bounce goes your way,” said Dormann.

Hurst has applied some of what she has learned during her time as assistant captain to Juli Inkster at the last two Solheim Cups. The San Jose State team sees Inkster on Thursdays when they play her home club, Los Altos Golf and Country Club.

Inkster made the Solheim Cup about hard work and grit. But she also made it about fun. Dormann and Hurst want that for San Jose State too.

“I just feel like I wanted to learn from those who have experienced it all,” said Arevalo.

She came to the right place.

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