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September 28, 1999

Juli Inkster

KIRSTEN SEABORG: Good morning, everyone. As most of you already know Juli Inkster won last week's Safeway LPGA Golf Championship and by virtue of that victory she became the 17th woman to enter our LPGA Tour Hall of Fame. Just to give you a little recap on Juli's season, at the age of 39 she has won 22 LPGA titles; five of which were recorded this year, and two of those victories included two MMajor Championships this year. When she won this year's McDonald's LPGA Championship in June, she became only one of four women ever in the history of the LPGA to achieve the career Grand Slam. She ranks 2nd on the 1999 money list with $1,263,703. After last week's victory she surpassed the $5 million mark in career earnings becoming only the 7th LPGA player to do so. Juli is currently second in Player-of-the-Year points with 283. She is second in the running for the Vare Trophy award with her lowest scoring average ever 69.88. She recorded 16 Top-10 finishes out of 21 starts and has yet to miss a cut. Gosh, that is quite a year. Juli, why don't we start with a comment from you. Have you had time to absorb all of this.

JULI INKSTER: Kirsten, I really haven't. It has been a whirlwind. I took the red eye from Portland to here and went and saw Celine Dion; tried to relax. That was kind of fun. It has been just an unbelievable year. But it has been so much fun and it is one I will never forget. To accomplish the Grand Slam which is just a feat that -- it just means so much to me and then the start of this year, seven points just seemed like a milestone to win to get in the Hall of Fame. Six months later I am in the Hall of Fame. I mean, it has been an unbelievable year, but it is -- really, a lot of my hard work has paid off and to be able to share it with the kids that really understand what mom does, it is something I will never forget.

KIRSTEN SEABORG: I guess we are ready to open up the lines for questions.

Q. Hi, Juli, congratulations to you.

JULI INKSTER: Thank you very much, Doug.

Q. You kind of touched on this a little bit already but when they came up with the changes in the criteria back in February, was that any kind of incentive for you or did you still look at least two, three years away?

JULI INKSTER: It was, I mean, it felt like it was definitely a more obtainable goal, but considering I have only won twice in the last two years I just knew I wasn't going to play out here for six or seven more years. If you win two tournaments a year you had a great year. It even though I felt like it was easier, I just felt like it was still out of reach for me. I was okay with that. I think that is why I played good. I didn't stress: Oh, God, I need to win; I need to win. I was okay if I didn't get in the Hall of Fame because I knew I accomplished and I worked hard and for me, I have my Hall of Fame back at home with my kids. That really means the most to me.

Q. I don't have your record in front of me, but it seemed like after du Maurier it has been such a hellacious summer that there was a little bit of the well-went-a-little-bit-dry?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, well, I took a lot of time off too. I played two out of seven weeks and you do lose a little momentum. I played Springfield and I played the Samsung. Springfield I didn't play well at all. The Samsung I finished 9th but there was only 20 players. So I was kind of concerned: Did I lose the magic or was I tired or whatever. I took another ten days off; I went and worked with my coach Mike on Wednesday, and we were just kind of talking and he says: Juli, you can still finish this year up good. That's really what I was trying to do. I was trying to finished the year up on a positive swing. If I won, great. If I didn't, I still had a great year. I was trying not to let this Hall-of-Fame-thing get in the way of me having a great year.

Q. I know you have talked about cutting back on your schedule. When you have a year like this, do you feel like maybe you might stick around a little longer, play more than you thought you might have?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I know I am going to play next year. I am going to play a full schedule next year just because of the Solheim Cup is next year and just the obligations I have to play. After that, I am really seriously thinking about cutting back just because -- not because I don't love what I do because I do and it is not because I am not playing well, cause I am. It is just that my kids are really getting into doing their activity and doing their sports and doing their dance and it is stuff -- it kills me every time I miss a game. I just don't want to do that. My five-year-old is going to be doing sports next year and they are only young once and they have followed me around supported my career and I think I just need to follow them around and support them a little bit.

Q. A lot of players peak in their early 20s. Do you feel like you are peaking now and how much better do you think you might able to get?

JULI INKSTER: You know what, it is not that I am peaking. I think I think I just appreciate what I have out here. I think I appreciate the opportunity to play golf and to make a living and to do what I love to do. If I would have done this in my rookie year or my first three, four years out here, I wouldn't have appreciated it the way I appreciate -- it is like when I won two majors in my rookie year, they were just golf tournaments to me. Then winning two majors this year I really appreciate what I have done this year and I think that has helped me. I think I don't put as much emphasis on my golf game as I used to. Believe me, I am very competitive out there. But if I don't play good, I work hard, I do the best that I can and I go home.

Q. Congratulations.

JULI INKSTER: Thank you, Pat. You are up early. You got that morning voice working Pat.

Q. Yeah, I worked late last night.


Q. Didn't you watch the 49er Game?

JULI INKSTER: I did. I watched the end of the game. I had Celine during the middle of the game.

Q. You mentioned you want to play on the Solheim Cup given that team competition. What was your reaction to the Ryder Cup and do you think the guys were overexuberant on No. 17 that kind of thing?

JULI INKSTER: I just think you just get caught up in the emotion. You get caught up in that whole atmosphere of the team and the comeback. I mean, the comeback was just awesome. Granted, if they would probably do it over again, I think probably wouldn't have dropped down on the drain. You can't write a script for that. I am just -- I am sorry but if they were over in Europe and Sergio Garcia would have made that putt, you don't think everybody would have gone crazy over there too? So I mean, it is -- when you are playing on foreign soil it is just a different atmosphere. I know when we played over in Scotland, I mean, it felt like there was 20 people out there rooting for us and 20,000 rooting for them. You just get caught up in the emotion and I am sure there is a little bitterness, but you know what: Maybe when everybody dies down and the feelings die down, the emotion dies down, maybe things will calm down a little bit.

Q. Congratulations.

JULI INKSTER: Thanks, Cliff.

Q. Coming down the stretch I was wondering, Sunday, did you feel anymore pressure than you would have coming down the stretch with an opportunity to win because of the situation or was it just like another tournament, you had a chance to win?

JULI INKSTER: Well, it was funny, I started the day with a 3-shot lead and even though that is a big lead, it is really not, you make a double and someone else makes a birdie and you are tied. I just really wanted to come out and -- I hit the ball extremely well that day and that helped. Hit a lot of greens and had a lot of opportunities at putts. When I made the turn I asked my caddie how I was doing and he said: You are doing great, you got a 7-shot lead. So then I went for the middle of the greens and just was trying to 2-putt and get out of there. So the pressure coming down the stretch wasn't as tense as it would have been with a one-shot lead or tied or one back. You just don't know how many opportunities there are to win that one extra point. It was great to be able to coast down the stretch without anybody on my back.

Q. Hello, Juli.

JULI INKSTER: Hey, Bob, how are you doing?

Q. Good. You are now sort of in a unique situation in sports. No other Hall of Famer, as a member, is still competing. I just wondered if you have had any time to think about what is out there for me now when you have reached the ultimate?

JULI INKSTER: I think that is the thing I have got to really work at right now. Who would have thought at the beginning of this year that I would have accomplished what I have accomplished. Being competitive like I am, I mean, there is still a lot of goals out there as far as trying to maybe get Player-of-the-Year or next year trying to -- I doubt I will ever have the year I had this year, but just try and compete and be in the hunt next year too. I am very competitive and I don't like to play bad so I think that is enough for me to get myself going.

Q. You touched on it briefly, but I was curious as to your goals. Now that you have accomplished so much this year, I wanted to get you to address the Player-of-the-Year race and also the race for the Vare Trophy?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, those are two great races. I think Karrie and I should at least take one each. But Karrie is having such a great year. I mean, she has won six tournaments already this year and her stroke average is lower than mine. I have had a career I will never forget and I am still behind her in Player-of-the-Year. For me to win Player-of-the-Year I am going to have to at least win another tournament or maybe I will have to win two because Karrie could win this week easy too. It is a great goal. It is a good one to shoot for but right now I'd take the year I have and give her Player-of-the-Year.

Q. I guess I heard that you and Justin Leonard might be playing together in the JC Penny event.

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, we are.

Q. I wondered (A): How did that transpire and (B): Are you going to chide him a little bit for stealing a little of your thunder?

JULI INKSTER: You know what, I just thought after the first couple of days he was saving those points up for me for the mixed team. You know what, he called and asked me if I would be interested in playing. Playing with Justin Leonard is going to be just so much fun. He is such a nice guy. I was so happy for him when he made that putt because there was a lot of undue ribbing from the media and stuff about Justin. Here is a guy that has played so well over his career and has always been a great team player and I think he is a very popular player on the PGA TOUR. I just think he took a lot of ribbing that he really didn't need to take. Then to come away with making those putts I was so happy for him. I called him afterwards left him a voice mail. I am really looking forward to playing with him. Whether we win or lose, we are going to have a good time playing.

Q. I know you are a big sports fan in general. I wonder as long as you have been in golf, can you recall a year quite like this and how does it feel to be such a big part of a big golf year like it has been?

JULI INKSTER: It has been great. I can't ever recall -- what is so weird about it is you have me and my year and you have Karrie Webb and her year. Two women golfers that, I mean, if you win two tournaments a year you are having a great year and Karrie has won 6 and I have won 5. It is just unbelievable. I don't know if you will ever see it again. It has been great.

Q. I guess it was like five years ago that you sort of made the commitment that I am not going quit; I want to recommit myself to the game. I was just wondering how difficult was it to tell Brian that you can stay as a husband but as a coach I have got to go somewhere else?

JULI INKSTER: You know what, it was more of his deciding. He said, you know what, Juli -- because the thing is we have known Mike for a lot longer than five years -- and Brian and Mike have always talked to each other and when I am out there and Brian is confused or I am not listening to him - which is usually the case - he'd always have Mike -- hey, Mike, can you look at Juli; just maybe help her out. I don't know, it was just something that if I was going -- if I was going to rededicate myself I needed to get a game plan. It was just too hard with the kids and with Brian's work and my travelling to ever really get a game plan. Plus it is that husband/wife thing. I would listen to Mike and I wouldn't really listen to Brian. I decided to keep him as a husband and it has worked out great. He really has a lot of confidence in Mike and Mike runs a lot of things by Brian. So they are working on the same page and it has really been a team thing.

Q. Your reaction and your peers' reaction to the announcement on the Titleholders.

JULI INKSTER: Well, I hate -- I am very disappointed we lost it because it is at our headquarters and I just think hopefully somebody will pick it up there. It is one of our -- four, five years ago was our biggest event. It just shows you how strong our Tour is getting is -- you know, year after year we are getting bigger and bigger events. I am disappointed we lost it but hopefully someone will pick it up.

Q. Speaking of goals, you kind of touched on Player-of-the-Year before, but I was curious to see with the revisions in the Hall of Fame point system, would you like to see the system to determine Player-of-the-Year go to maybe something other than the way it is set up now?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I think so. I don't know. I guess it has been in that place for so long, but it always seems like women's organizations always has points for everything instead -- got points for this and points for that. I think if they could maybe do it with their peers voting, I think that means a lot and maybe with the media voting that means a lot and then have some type of point system and have like maybe a three-thing, to determine the Player-of-the-Year. But you know what, it is in place. It has been run like that for years and you just got to roll with it and do the best you can.

Q. Going back to that four, five year ago period did you ever entertain the thoughts of calling it a career and did you ever come close to that thinking?

JULI INKSTER: Oh, yeah. I was entertaining it a lot. I just didn't like to come out here and be a mediocre player and that is what I felt like I was doing. I felt like I was just out here going through the motions and hauling my kids around and really wasn't accomplishing much. That is when I really decided I need to start working on my game. I need to get a game plan. I need to -- I wanted to see, you know, talk to Mike and see if that was possible to get back to where I was. He said it was definitely possible but it is going to take a lot of hard work and it is going to take time. Being the impatient person that I am, I didn't want it to take time. I wanted it to happen along the way. But basically it did. It took two years to really get back where I was starting to play consistent golf again.

Q. You hear people talking about the fact that you need to learn how to win. What are some of the things that you have learned over the years and was there anything specific even this year that has helped you?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I think the thing I have learned best is I don't have to play my best game to win. I think I have to think the best and I have to grind the best. But a couple of times this year I have won and I haven't had my best game. I am a hard worker. I work hard on my golf game. I work hard on my family life. So when I am at a tournament I feel like I am prepared. I feel like I have done everything I can to give myself the best shot to win. That is the attitude I take. But I do feel that even if I don't have my good game, I feel like I can still contend to win.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the company that you are in the Hall of Fame, such wonderful company if you can comment on that a little bit?

JULI INKSTER: These are the ladies that have made the LPGA what it is today. These are the ladies that have given us an opportunity to play for the money we are playing for today, and playing for the sponsors and the crowds that we are. I was very fortunate to be able to play with the Whitworth and Carner and Bradley and King and Sheehan and all those people I look up to and I respect a great deal because they have sacrificed a lot in their career to make the LPGA what it is today. It is really hard for me to think of myself in that company. It is going to take me a while to think of me that way.

Q. You have mentioned money, and I don't think at the U.S. Open, I don't think we asked. There was much made about the disparity in the payment for the men's and women's Open Champions. As you look back now does -- I know also as a mother, does it bother you that it is that different or would you like to see it change?

JULI INKSTER: Well, you know what, I look at, you know, for winning the U.S. Open I won $315,000. I would have won the Open for nothing. Granted, it is not as much as the men, but you know what, the men are the best of what they do. They have been doing it a lot longer than we have been doing it. Hopefully in five years from now, ten years from now we will be playing for as much as the men. But I just feel we have to take little steps before we take big steps. I am doing what I love to do and I am making a great living and I just really don't have any complaints right now.

Q. I just wanted two things, just if you could go through some of the people you have heard from either telephones or telegrams whatever, since Sunday and how much, if any, did you have chance to watch the Ryder Cup live?

JULI INKSTER: Best thing about being on the West Coast and it being on the East Coast is as soon as I owned my eyes I turned on the TV and it is funny I got to watch a lot of it. Didn't get to watch the end of the single matches, but I got to watch all the way up to David Duval and Davis Love winning. So it was a lot of fun. I was in my room high-fiving my walls and jumping up-and-down and I wish someone was there that I could high-five, but that was very special. I have heard from Amy Alcott called me and Patti Sheehan called me and Nancy Lopez was there on the green. So I mean, and friends and family, I mean, it has been overwhelming the -- but I mean these are all the people that have supported me throughout my career when I wasn't playing good and have been there when I have been playing too so it is a lot of fun to be sharing it with them.

KIRSTEN SEABORG: A transcript from this teleconference will be available at the end of the business day today on www.lpga.com.

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