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July 4, 2002

Juli Inkster


MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Juli Inkster shot 67 today, 3 under par, with an unfortunate bogey on the last hole. It's not her lowest opening round of the year. She won in 1999, misfired an opening round of 65, 7 under par, but mighty good golf. Did you expect to score that low in the opening round?

JULI INKSTER: You really never know what to expect. I knew I was playing well, got off to a good start, and that really helped. I had some good iron shots early on, made some good putts early on. That got me going and settled me down.

But I'm very happy with it. The wind was not as bad as it has been, which was nice. And hopefully it will stay that way for us tomorrow. But I always get the bogey the last hole. But I made a lot of good birdies and par saves, so I've got to take it with a grain of salt.

Q. You said earlier in the week that you felt you could play well if you got your putter going.

JULI INKSTER: Speed was very good on our putts all day. I didn't leave myself very many 5-footers for par, made some good early birdie putts, that settled me down and helped me out a little bit.

Q. Did you need settling down today?

JULI INKSTER: You always get the Open, and sometimes it just needs -- sometimes you make it bigger than it is, and I kept telling myself, "This is a golf tournament. Go out there and play your own game," and when they call your name on the first tee, you're trying not to throw up all over yourself. But, yeah, I needed a little settling down.

I threw the ball in the rough in the first hole, and I was fortunate that all the grass was kind of going towards where the playing was, so I hit a little 7-iron 12 feet, and made that for birdie, and it got me going and settled me down and I was off.

Q. You were playing with Annika. You've always played with her before, but she's had the kind of year one week out of the top ten. Does it help?

JULI INKSTER: I enjoy playing with her because it makes me really focus more and makes me concentrate more. When you're playing with the best, I seem to play better, so I enjoy it and she says "nice shot, nice putt," it's very cordial out there. I don't have any problems talking to her, so I thought it was a very good pairing for myself. Especially with Amy in there. She's as sweet as can be, so it kind of offsets me, so makes it a good pairing.

MODERATOR: Other questions?

Q. I wonder if you could talk about the conditions. It seemed like it was pretty friendly, especially early this morning. And I also wonder if it's good to take advantage of that, because what are the chances the golf course might bite back.

JULI INKSTER: I'm just assuming that the wind's going to blow. Every time I get up, the wind is blowing, but it was a little calmer today. When I looked out the window at the flags at the Holiday Inn Express, they weren't blowing as rapid as they have been the last four days, so that was a good sign. But hopefully tomorrow, because we got a late afternoon tee time, that we'll have the calmness, too, but I'll see. If it keeps blowing like this, the greens are going to get harder. Hopefully we didn't see its tamest day, but if the wind's blowing, the scores are going up, there is no doubt about that.

Q. So often, Juli, U.S. Open gets down to a one-stroke margin at the end. When you have the misfortune to miss a putt on your last hole, does that haunt you for a while?

JULI INKSTER: No. Because I made some pars out there when I shouldn't have today, and I look at the big picture and say, maybe I shouldn't have made par there, and I made it, and I gave it back on 18, but I hit the shot the way I wanted to hit it, it just fluffed out on the first cut, and it was a tough chip shot, and I hit a good putt, so I just have to move on.

Q. Could you go over your birdies?

JULI INKSTER: First hole I hit 7-iron out of the rough about 12 feet, made that for birdie. Third hole I hit just a little gap wedge about 4 feet, made that for birdie.

Fourth hole I had a 7-iron about 6 feet, made that for birdied. Is that it?

Q. 6.

JULI INKSTER: 6, 6, 6 -- oh, 6 I hit a gap wedge again about 18 feet, made that for birdie, and then I bogeyed 9, I hit it left in the rough and had no lie, just got it back out in the fairway and hit a sand wedge just past the pin, rolled down, so I had about a 30-footer, 2-putted for bogey, so I made bogey there.

And 17 I hit a sand wedge about 4 feet -- 3 feet, made that for birdie, and 18 I hit short with the sand wedge and chipped up and missed a 12-footer.

Q. For a course that has a lot of long par 4s, you must have been driving the ball well, listening to the clubs you used.

JULI INKSTER: I didn't drive the ball as well as I have been, but I hit my irons pretty good on the backside, which helped. But you do -- you need to keep the ball in the fairway, and hopefully tomorrow I can do a little better job of that.

Q. You were pretty long off the tee, too.

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, it felt pretty good.

Q. Juli, you talked yesterday about experience and how much that can help. How are your nerves compared to years past? Do your nerves go away a little bit?

JULI INKSTER: I think everybody gets nervous. You can't not get nervous. But, you know, I think I handled it pretty good. I -- i was just trying to take it one shot at a time. I know it's a cliche, but on an Open golf course, you just can't look ahead. I felt pretty calm out there really pretty much all day.

Q. I was curious about the conditions at the Holiday Inn Express -- kidding.

You did you get a sense today, noticing that the wind wasn't that strong, that this might be as easy as it gets for you --

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I definitely -- the thing is, you play a practice round, and I played on Monday when it was just howling, and I played 9 holes late Tuesday afternoon, and I played 9 holes early, and the wind has been blowing all the time, so all of a sudden you get out there and the wind isn't blowing as much. You're thinking: Do I have the right club off the tee?

So it's a little bit -- you got to kind of back away and really think about what kind of shot and where you want to hit it because I definitely gear more down on my club selections off the tee because of the wind, but I definitely felt like there were some birdies out there, you just got to get the ball in the right place. I was able to do that a few of those holes.

Q. (Inaudible)

JULI INKSTER: A little bit. You know, I just gear down a little bit on the downwind holes, and maybe took a little more clubs on the into-the-wind holes. Where I was hitting a 4 and 3-iron, I'm hitting 6 and 5-iron, so it was definitely a little better.

Q. Do you feel it was important to take advantage --

JULI INKSTER: An Open it's always important to have a good first round just to get yourself in the ball game. You know with an Open, if you can have -- it seems like in an Open, you're going to have one day where you're going to have a mediocre round, and you're off to a good start, and get yourself in position that really helps out.

It seems like a lot of times I feel like my first round I try so hard that I'm always trying to leave myself out of the hole, and today I was fortunate to get some birdies early and now I feel like I'm off and running.

Q. Is there any similarity between the way the course sets up now and when you played in the amateur?

JULI INKSTER: You know what? I have no idea. I mean, I just can't remember that far back. I hope it's the same outcome, but I don't know how it was set up.

MODERATOR: Great opening, thank you.

JULI INKSTER: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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