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July 7, 2002

Juli Inkster


JULI INKSTER: I found my swing. (Laughs) made the day a lot easier.

Q. (Inaudible)

JULI INKSTER: I played some good ones but under the pressure and I would say I did everything well today. I hit the ball better. I chipped great. Putted great. You know what, that's what I needed to do to win.

It's tough playing with the lead in the Open, and I had a great pairing, the group in front, and you know, it hard. It's hard -- Annika was probably -- you guys have probably bet money Annika was going to win this thing and that's a tough position to be in. I feel like I really had nothing to lose, just go out there and try to get some birdies early which I did, stayed focus, made some good par putts out there, made some good birdie putts, so, here I am.

Q. Could you go over 15?

JULI INKSTER: 15 I hit the ball left, hit 5-iron left, I got a drop. I thought I hit a pretty good chip but it just kept rolling. I had about a 16-, 18-footer and I didn't know Annika birdied the hole before that. I didn't know Annika birdied 14, so I am figuring, I need to make this to have -- keep my lead. And I hit a great putt, Greg and I read it right. I thought maybe it was going to lose a little bit of speed and go to left but it hung right there and dropped in, I looked up and I saw that she birdied it. That was the key. I made a great putt on 16 too.

Q. You talked yesterday about one or two shots, good shots really get you going. When did you start feeling it out there today?

JULI INKSTER: It's like 15 minutes on the range before I had to go, you know, Brian just said you need to make a little better turn and so I had my caddie, we have had drill that we do to help me turn back to the ball and I did a few of those, and started hitting the ball, you know, I finally started feel like I was behind the ball and could I drop my arms down. I hit like probably a half a dozen to a dozen good shots out there, and you know, the first hole I hit an okay drive, not a great drive really good 7-iron in there that just kind of got me going.

Q. Round actually started on the range?

JULI INKSTER: Yes, on the range about 15 minutes.

Chip on 6? Hit a good drive on 6, and I thought the wind would take it. It didn't. I am in the first cut. I tried to hit a little pitching wedge up there because I didn't want to go over, came up short, and you know, that's the type of thing I could probably drop 100 balls there and probably not make one of them. But it was just going perfect. I hit it right on the line I wanted to hit and it just dropped in. That was awesome.

Q. What were your thoughts walking up 18, did you know --

JULI INKSTER: I hit 3 good shots on 17. I can't believe I make bogey. You just never want to give Annika a chance to eagle the last hole. I didn't know she birdied 17 either. Obviously is trying to get it on and 2-putt for par and get out of here. But which I did. And it is really hard to play with, you know, I got too much adrenaline going, I don't know how far I hit any club, coming down the stretch. And that's -- I hit that sand wedge about 125 yards, or 30 yards, you know, so -- but may speed on my putts have been great all week, and lined it up there and tapped it in for par. It was nice to par a final hole finally.

Q. Give us a sense of the perspective now overall for what this win means here at Prairie Dunes, the way you came back and in front of this crowd?

JULI INKSTER: Well, it -- the crowd I just fed off of all day. They were just so awesome. I just really felt them behind me. When I made that putt on 16, I mean it was electrifying. It was just so fun. It was so -- it was nervous, I was very nervous, very you know, just trying to take one shot at a time but I was just so excited, and I just like playing in the Solheim Cup, you just don't get the crowd like that going, and it was just -- it was great.

Q. Talk about how special it is to win on the weekend of the fourth of July?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, it's great. I am very much an American, and you know, Americans haven't won the U.S. Open in a while, and you don't get too many opportunities to win a US Open, and I felt like I had the opportunity. I felt like I was in great group, the group ahead with Shani who I get along great with, and to be able to walk up 18 and then chanting "U.S.A. u.S.A.", that was pretty impressive.

Q. (Inaudible) Annika and Se Ri ---

JULI INKSTER: Those guys are awesome. They are good, I just like being Juli and win my tournaments here and there. I got two great kids at home. I like being a mom, so this was a great week, but those three are still the three to beat. Annika is the best player in the world. Last we can she got me and this week I got her so that was kind of sweet.

Q. Inevitable question is the second time around better than the last time?

JULI INKSTER: Well, it's easier last time because I had a bigger lead so I could kind of coast in. You don't have too many opportunities to do that. It was -- any time you can win a US Open -- I can't it believe took me so long to win one and I can't believe I have won two. So believe me, I don't take it for granted, I really cherish these moments.

Q. A lot of shooting around today or the way you held it together last two days to stay ---

JULI INKSTER: I would say it the way I'd held the last two days if I didn't hold it together the last two days I am not even in this position to win. That's why I say with the U.S. Open golf, you just -- when you don't have your great game you got to grind it out, and you know, I putted so well this week, and I really have been struggling with my putting start of the year. And I have worked really hard at it, and it just -- it all came together for me.

Q. I know last week you were kind of miffed that Annika clipped you on the last day. Did it give you a little umpf?

JULI INKSTER: Well you don't ever like -- it's like last week I had a shot lead and she was a group in front of me, and you know, you never want to have a lead and not win. I feel like I am a pretty good closer, but I just didn't play very good, and Annika doesn't make very many mistakes and I just -- I don't know, I just had a good feeling this week that I was going to play well.

Q. From 1980 to this year did anything come into this victory from that experience?

JULI INKSTER: No, because you know, it's so different playing Match Play to medal play. There's so much more strategy in Match Play. Medal play you just got to really keep the ball in the fairway and really play conservative out here. I thought the course was in great shape the last couple of days. The wind didn't blow as much which was probably a saving grace. But I mean this course is all you can handle when you only have got two players in the red. I think the USGA is probably pleased.

Q. Other players talk about how (inaudible) how do you balance that with the mom thing?

JULI INKSTER: I don't know, I am very competitive, but I am also very compassionate. I don't have any trouble you know, when someone beats me going up and shaking their hand saying "good job." But I am competitive and I work hard at trying to stay competitive because it's not easy having you know, two kids and I am already in the Hall of Fame. I could just kind of go off in the sunset and retire, but you know, I still have the desire to --mean, how can you not have fun today out there. I mean, you know, the outcome makes it more fun, but being able to play in front of these fans and get them going like I did, it makes all the hard work pay-off.

Q. The American players been beaten up pretty good by the media and other people about not having much success on the LPGA Tour. Is this sort of a relief or vindication and do you think maybe it says something that a 42 year old American can get to win when --

JULI INKSTER: You know, what I just think -- I really think in a decade from now we're going to have a lot of good American players. I raise my kids -- I raise my kids and they play all sports, they play basketball, softball, they do soccer, they do golf, I mean, and I think that's the way Americans kind of raise their kids. They put them into everything, and let them decide. I think the foreign countries are more -- they pick a sport and they stick with it. I don't know if that's good or bad. I didn't start playing 'til I was 15, and I don't know if I'd still be playing if I started at an early age. So I just think golf is -- I see a lot of good young Americans coming up. Laura Diaz, Jill McGill, Heather Bowie, Wendy Ward, they are all good young players that they are going to develop and they are going to become -- they are going to win U.S. opens.

Q. Third U.S. Open here in the state of Kansas all three have been won by 40 year old, some sort of deal with that?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I am glad I held the tradition because that means that I won the tournament, so that was pretty special.

End of FastScripts....

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