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March 28, 2006

Juli Inkster


PAUL ROVNAK: Thanks for coming in and joining us. You're a two time champion of this event. I'm sure you wouldn't mind taking another plunge in the champion's lake. Talk about that.

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, it looks a lot cleaner this year. No, I wouldn't. I'm just trying to get myself prepared and ready to go for this tournament. The course has been in the best shape it's been in in a long time. They have the rough up. So I think it's going to be a good test.

PAUL ROVNAK: Talk about playing so well coming off the win.

JULI INKSTER: Well, I worked really hard this winter, working on my swing. I just needed to make some changes. You know, even though I think I finished 8th and 38th or something in the Hawaii tournaments, I felt like I did a lot of good things.

After that week I took two weeks off and worked with Mike again. And then Phoenix, I played really well. I hit a lot of greens, made a lot of good swings, and I putted pretty decent. I just feel like my swing is just starting to repeat, so my rounds are getting better.

PAUL ROVNAK: We'll go ahead and take questions.

Q. On the premise that we think you'll forever be 30, you've had a couple of tournaments the last 2 or 3 years where you were there going into the weekend and then kind of stumbled and didn't get it done. How much were doubts creeping in, or were they at all?

JULI INKSTER: Well, not doubts. I was really frustrated with my swing. I just didn't feel like I could put four good rounds together with my swing and have it hold up.

Right after the AT&T I usually take all of December off. And I took a week off and I went and worked with Mike for three days and just kind of mapped out a plan of what I needed to do to get my swing better and get it to repeat. Believe me, it's still not perfect, but my misses are better. My good shots are better, too. I just feel like now that when I get into the hunt and I get in the lead, I have a good chance of winning because I can count on my swing to repeat.

Q. What does winning mean to you given you've already got the Grand Slam?

JULI INKSTER: That's all I play for, to win and compete and be in the top. I don't play for the money, I just play because I love the game of golf and I love working on my game. I love beating the younger player. I just like to see where I'm at with my game and just to let them know I'm still around. I might not win every week, and I probably won't win every week, but just to let them know that it's not just the younger players, it's the media and sponsors and everybody, that I can still play and I still have the desire to play.

I love the game. I think I have a passion for the game. And I think that's a lot of it. I mean, it's hard to, especially in northern California, to put the work in in the wintertime when it's raining and windy and cold. I have the passion to do that.

Q. Is that where you worked with Mike?

JULI INKSTER: Yes, we worked a lot in northern California and Palm Springs, too.

Q. You won here when you were a rookie in '84. Now you're winning in 2006. Other Hall of Fame players haven't really been able to keep a career going on winning 23, 25 years. Is it that passion or

JULI INKSTER: I think it's that. I started late. I didn't start until I was 15. I feel like I'm very content where I am in my family life. I've been able to raise a family and I have two great kids. I have a very supportive husband. But if I didn't love the game, I couldn't play out here and do it. I mean, I love the game, and my husband is 100 percent behind me. He wants me he doesn't mind being, you know

Q. A babysitter?

JULI INKSTER: Well, yeah. He doesn't really do that much. They more like baby sit him now. He doesn't mind being in the shadows. He's never had a problem with that. He wants what's best for me. And my kids are the same way. Every year I sit down with them and say, "What do you guys think?" And they say, "What do you mean? We want you to play." And they like traveling and they like being out here.

Q. Over the last few years you have talked occasionally about cutting back or not playing as much or playing for one more Solheim Cup, and yet you're still out here. Is the family pushing you out the door?

JULI INKSTER: No, I think I'm pushing myself out the door. I'm 45, but to me it's just an age it's just a number. I'm in the best shape I've ever been. I'm hitting it the best I've ever hit it. I work 18 weeks out of the year and I get the other ones off, and I get paid for those 18 weeks. I think it's a pretty good job. I think other people would trade places with me.

I love what I do. I don't know why to go home for 18 weeks and be Ms. Mom for those other I don't know if I could do as good a job of being a mom and as good a job of playing golf if I didn't play, you know.

Q. I wonder, Michelle was just in here talking about her aspirations, and I know you've probably seen some reference to it, wants to play in the PGA Tour eventually. When you hear that as a veteran player out here, does that disturb you, concern you? Do you have a problem with it?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I just think I'd like to see her support the LPGA a little bit more than she does. I think this is one of the greatest women's organizations in the world and I would love for her to come out here and play full time. I think it would be great. But that's me. That's not her, her family, or whether they have different objectives. But I would love to see her come out here and support the LPGA and make it because she is, she is a phenomenal talent, and I just think it would be great for our Tour if she came out here. But that's just my personal opinion.

Q. Having played here and won here, what's special about this tournament and I guess the entire week?

JULI INKSTER: One, it's a major. That's what it's all about. It has a lot of history. Dinah Shore, a lot of the younger players don't even know who Dinah Shore is, but she was a remarkable woman and a very huge sponsor I mean supporter of the LPGA. I still call it the Dinah Shore. I know it's the Kraft Nabisco. But she was a great woman. That was one thing.

Another thing, it's a golf course that does not every year it gets better and better. It never gets old to play. It's a classic golf course. You have to hit a lot of different clubs. You have to hit a lot of different shots. The wind can come up. I think every year it plays different and I think that's what's fun.

Q. There's been a lot talk about the wave that the LPGA seems to be on with a lot of these new players coming up. Do you as a player who has been around for a few years sense something different about the Tour right now or the way people are seeing the Tour?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I just think the media is a lot more supportive of us than they ever have been. You know, when I was growing up it really wasn't cool for girls to play sports. And now I look at my daughter, now the homecoming queens are the ones that play basketball and soccer.

Times have changed. Now it's cool for kids to play sports, for girls, for women to play sports. I love seeing Paula out here and Natalie and Cristie Kerr and Laura Diaz, and Julieta Granada. These girls are young, they're good looking, they are athletic, they're vibrant, and they dress cool.

I love seeing the little kids out here following them around and wanting to be like them. I think it's great. I think it's great for the juniors to come. I think it's going to build our American junior teams to play golf. I just think right now we're at the most popular point that we've ever been with the media and with the fans. And I think it's just something we need to build on.

Q. When you came on Tour in the '80s, that seemed like it was a pretty good Tour at the time, because you had Betsy King and Amy Alcott and Beth Daniels, Hall of Famers all, including Juli Inkster. Is the talent any different now?

JULI INKSTER: No, it's just the media. I think the talent level is just as good. Those girls can play. The clubs and the golf balls we were playing back then, it's remarkable how technology has changed. The girls coming up now, they all have swing coaches. I couldn't even spell swing coach. I would just go out and play. They all have the video and the swing coach with the best technology.

These girls coming up, they have it all. Back then we all went to college. We all played in college and we all came out here and played. It was definitely a different path. Times have changed and you have got to learn to change with the times. That's what I'm trying to do.

Q. Going back to your passion for the game for a moment at this stage of your life. You've always remained pretty distraction free or pretty focused on golf and family. Are there any outside activities that you would like to pursue with the status that you really have now as a Hall of Famer?

JULI INKSTER: You know, I love to coach. I coach my daughters' basketball teams in the winter, sixth grade girls. I coach two teams. And I love working with kids. I love doing that. I don't really like teaching golf. I don't think that's my thing. If I could coach kids or work with kids, that would be great. I love to workout. I like to cook. I have other interests, but right now my plate is full. I just can't seem to I would love to learn how to use a computer. That would be another thing I'd like to learn how to do. I've got some interests I want to do, but right now I have just enough time to do what I'm doing.

Q. Do you e mail?

JULI INKSTER: Do I e mail? Not well, no. Ask Carolyn if I e mail. I don't do that very well.

Q. You must have been starting right about the time Lopez was going through her big rookie season. Is that about right?

JULI INKSTER: I don't know. I don't remember. I was more into Giants baseball than women's golf.

Q. The Willie Mays era?

JULI INKSTER: Yes, Pete Fuentez and Jose Uribe.

Q. Is this a big week for the Tour, given you're finally off The PLAYERS Championship date and the NCAA final weekend?

JULI INKSTER: Yes, it's kind of been a tough start. Two weeks in Hawaii and a week off, then Mexico, Safeway, and then a week off. There hasn't been a lot of continuity. I think for the fans. I mean it's hard to know, are the women playing this week or are they not playing this week.

I'm just as big a fan of the NCAA and The PLAYERS Championship and all that stuff. I watch it all. Hopefully people will tune into us and do the same thing, watch the NCAA and watch us and watch the men, and satisfy all their sports needs for the weekend.

Q. What's the measure for the success of this Tour?

JULI INKSTER: I would really like to see our TV increase, you know, for major networks. I like to see us sometimes play maybe a little better golf courses. I'd like to see our fan base increase galleries wise. I'd like to see some of the men CEOs come out from big major corporations believe in us and give us a shot of hosting maybe one of the AT&Ts and the Buick Challenge, some of these huge companies that we women support them, but sometimes I feel they neglect to support us. I'd like to see the attitudes of them change, because I really think when it comes to dealing with their customers, there is no other Tour that does it better than us.

I think the way the status of golf is right now, I think this is probably the best golf the LPGA has played. Really, any given week anybody can win. You're still going to have Annika Sorenstam up there. I think Lorena is still going to win her tournaments, but I think after that, it's going to be anybody's ball game. I just think I don't think you can pick a winner week in and week out these days.

Q. (No microphone.)

JULI INKSTER: Well, I think it's tough, but you know what, everything takes time. I think it's just a matter of time before I think Carolyn Bivens is going to be very good for us. She has a direction she wants to take us and she's going to stick to that. We might not please everybody, but I think it's about time we start sticking up for ourselves a little bit and taking this Tour where I think it needs to be.

Q. You mentioned the younger players. I was curious, how much does that motivate you? Would you still be pushing as hard as you would

JULI INKSTER: The younger players I love. I just have a huge amount of respect for them to come out at 17 and 18 and have the heart and the tenacity in the world to be out here. I know I don't think I could be out here at 17 and 18 and feel like I belong. And these girls come out here and feel like they belong.

But on the other hand, these girls respect the older players and how the Tour was made. And I think that's a huge thing with the older players, that they realize, you know, why they have these endorsements and why they are playing for the money they are playing for is because the people before them.

I have had no trouble with any of them as far as having a big head or thinking they're bigger than the game of golf, because no one is bigger than the game of golf. And I think Annika Sorenstam does that very well. She's bigger than the game of golf because she wins eight or ten times a year, but she realizes golf is where it's at and that's the main thing. And these younger players I think are doing a great job at that and hopefully they continue to do a good job at not only promoting the LPGA but themselves, and I think Natalie Gulbis does a great job at that.

Q. The younger players have created all this buzz. Is there a point where they have to win before that buzz wears off a little bit?

JULI INKSTER: Buzz is good for us. I think sometimes you have to prove that you can win out here. Winning is the No. 1 thing, no matter who you are or what age you are or whatever. I mean, it's just like me, it took me to win last week to really you know, it's kind of like what have you done for me lately. It doesn't matter what I've done in my past, it's what I'm doing right now. And winning is important. To me, it is. I don't know, maybe to some of the other players it's not.

To me, I feel the last couple of years have not been good years because I haven't won. I feel like that was my goal this year, to get back in the winner's circle. That's my No. 1 goal, is winning. And I think anybody out here, wherever you finish on the money list, if you haven't won, it hasn't been a good year.

Q. (No microphone.)

JULI INKSTER: I don't know. I'm trying to get into the playoffs, but I'm trying to get my World Ranking up a little bit, too.

Q. You mentioned Dinah. If you could single out the moment or encounter that you can share with us that defined who was she as a person and what she actually meant for the game?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I've been fortunate that I got to spend a little bit of time with her. What I loved about her, she treated everybody the same. You know, there are a lot of people, when you see and Nancy Lopez has that. Her smile lights up the room. Dinah was just like that. The fans loved her; not only older ones, but the younger ones. I was younger back there. I knew who she was and I knew who she represented and stuff like that. She always had a warm heart and a hug for you. That was good for me.

Q. Juli, you've been out here long enough to see a couple different leader shift changes. I want to get your thoughts on Carolyn. And is her direction for the Tour sort of in line what the players have envisioned?

JULI INKSTER: Yes, I think Ty Votaw was great for us. I think he really stabilized the Tour. Charlie Meecham probably was our first for me, where I really first knew what a commissioner did, before I really wasn't quite sure, but Charlie really business wise had a lot of respect out there in the business world and he took the LPGA on his back and said, Hey, listen, this is the right thing to do for your business. He had the voice to do that. At that time that's what we needed. When he retired, Ty came in. And Ty, I felt, did a really good job for us. He took our Tour, he kept it even keel, raised it a little bit.

But I think Carolyn is going to be she's going to be very good for us. She has got a lot of she's not afraid to say no. She's not afraid to say this is the way it's going to be, but she also too has the respect of the business world and we need both.

Right now, she's got a lot to work with. Right now the Tour is in the best shape it's ever been, and I think she's going to make some changes. And a lot of people aren't going to agree with them, but I think they're changes that the LPGA needs to make. And I know the Tour is behind her.

I think we're all trying to work together, so I think right now you've got to give her a chance. You can't do this thing in 2 or 3 months. It's a strategy she has mapped out and you have to let her run her course and I think she's going to do us a good job.

Q. How much interaction have you had with Morgan Pressel?

JULI INKSTER: I'm her big sister, so I got 20 bucks off her from Phoenix. That's good. She keeps handing me 20's every week. Morgan is going to be just fine. She is a great kid. She's trying to finish high school and also play on the LPGA. So right now she's got a full plate. Again, she's the type she loves golf. Like she said, she would rather play every day than practice. She's got a lot of good shots. She doesn't like to play bad, and she'll show those emotions, but I think overall she's a good kid.

Q. (No microphone.)

JULI INKSTER: I think it's grandmother, but I don't know. She calls me Nana. No, just kidding.

End of FastScripts.

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