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June 21, 2000

Juli Inkster


DEBBIE EARECKSON: Well, if you'd like to give some comments about this week?

JULI INKSTER: Basically, played nine holes on the course yesterday, and nine today, and the course is in the best shape it's ever been. The rough is up, which is good. Fairways are in great shape, and greens are rolling fast; so, it's going to be a good championship, good test, good championship golf. As far as myself, I played last week in France. Didn't play great, but felt like there's kind of light at the end of the tunnel. I feel okay with my game. Probably not as good as where I'd like it to be, but considering I haven't really played that much this spring, I'm looking forward to playing a few in a row and get some time.

Q. How tough has it been going back and forth the last couple of weeks?

JULI INKSTER: I didn't play Rochester, and I only played -- I played Myrtle Beach; and I only played once in a month, so I feel like I'm very rested. I'm not really worried about the jet lag or whatever. It was such a beautiful place that I would put up with a little jet lag to go over there. But I feel good. I feel rested. I had two good nights of sleep. You know, they do it all the time; so we should be able to do at least a week.

Q. Do you see anything different in the course this year than last year?

JULI INKSTER: Well they had a couple holes that are playing a little longer, like No. 12 they moved back, and number --

Q. No. 9 has been lengthened.


Q. They said they took that back. Do you think it's reachable now?

JULI INKSTER: I never reached it before, so -- (laughs). If they lengthened it, I know it's not reachable. But I didn't really notice 9, but I noticed 6 they moved back a little bit, too. Other than that, I think the course is -- even though the rough is a lot more up than it was last year, it's really the only thing.

Q. Would 268 seem reasonable this year, the winning score?

JULI INKSTER: No, I don't think it's going to be that high, but I'll take it. You know, I think it's definitely going to play tougher this year. You know, you're going to have some holes where you get in the rough and you're just going to have to take your bogey and suck it up and try to get a birdie somewhere else. But the greens, how quick they are, and how the rough is up, it's going to put a premium on hitting the fairways and hitting the greens.

Q. How do you see women's golf this year? Karrie has been No. 1, Annika is coming up, you're trying to hold the ground you had, how do you see it all at the present time?

JULI INKSTER: I think you've got a good mixture. You've got a lot of good young players, you've got a lot of good middle-aged players and you've got some good veterans in there. I think Meg Mallon is playing good right now. This is a great course for Dottie because she keeps the ball in play and is an excellent putter. Both Annika and Karrie are playing good. Laura seems to play good on this course. There's a lot of good players that are playing well right now, and you're going to have to play some consistent golf. I think you can shoot a 72, 73 and still win the tournament if you , you know, shoot a few under par rounds. I think if you just, you know, stay -- don't do anything, you know, just stay around par a couple under par, I think come Sunday, you'll be in the hunt.

Q. The term "tournament favorite" is overused in golf, but the way Karrie has been playing this season, does it add a little different meaning to that term?

JULI INKSTER: Well, if I was a betting person, I would every week put my money on Karrie. I would be very rich right now. She's playing great. She's got a lot of confidence. But, you know, Annika is playing good right now. There's a lot of good people playing well. If Karrie is on her game and putting the way she has been putting, she's going to be tough to beat. But four rounds of golf on this golf course, I don't think you're going to have four days where you hit it really well. That's going to be the deciding factor, if you turn in a 75 and a 72, maybe that's how you'll come away winning the whole tournament.

Q. After the year you had last year and coming back this year and playing well again, was there any concern at the end of last year because of all the great things that happened to you, you might get distracted?

JULI INKSTER: I definitely haven't played as much as I played last year, but I wanted to do that. I wanted to just cut back a little bit. I wanted to see if I could not play maybe as much and still be competitive. You know, the thing with me, I enjoy practicing. I enjoy working on my game. I like competing. You know, chances of me having the same type of year I had last year is, you know, maybe I won't be able to do that. But, as far as competing and being in there, in the hunt and trying to win tournaments, I still feel like I can do that and come away with a few wins.

Q. Talking about how well Karrie is playing, on the men's side we see a thing where it's almost one person and everybody else, is there a danger if she plays too well, it becomes -- almost all the attention focused on one person regardless?

JULI INKSTER: I don't think there's a danger of that. I just think we have a lot of good players out here that can step up and challenge her. You know, granted, she's a great, strong -- she hits the ball far, she's got a great short game. But when people are on their games, I feel like they can compete with her. But what are you going to do, tell her to back off a little bit? She's going out there and trying her hardest and practices hard. It doesn't come easy for her. She works hard at her game. She's reaping the rewards right now. I still think that if I'm playing well or someone else is playing well, I think they can compete with her.

Q. Have you told her to back off?

JULI INKSTER: I tell her that every week.

Q. Did you ever get tired of talking about Karrie all the time, especially earlier in the year?

JULI INKSTER: No. I don't have any qualms talking about her. I think she's a great person, and she's learning as she's going how to deal with the media, and, you know, what the LPGA needs from her. I think she wants what's best for the LPGA. I think she's doing a great job. And to be able to keep playing golf the way she has, and, you know, the obligations that she has to do, you know, I think she's handling it quite well for a 25-year-old.

Q. Is this reminiscent of the early days of Lopez in terms of people raving about a game?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, but I think the media attention is more intentful than it was with Lopez. I just think golf is huge right now. I think people expect her to play well every week, week-in, week-out, and it's just really hard to do. You know, she seems to work at it and keep getting in the hunt.

Q. What do you think of what Tiger did last week?

JULI INKSTER: I mean, we were over in Paris, Evian, so we really didn't get to see that much of it. But, it's pretty remarkable. That course, for how narrow it is and how fast it was, and those greens -- I've putted those greens a thousand times, and they are not easy; and he was just rolling them in like it was nothing. It's got to be a little discouraging for the other guys, but there's nothing you can do about it. You've just got to work on your game, and try and improve your game, and hopefully you can get better.

Q. Nancy is back for the first time in five weeks. Is that always good when Nancy comes out?

JULI INKSTER: Oh, yeah. It's always good to see her back out. You know, she's the icon of the LPGA. She's really made it, as far as popularity, what it is today. It's always good to see her back out, competing. I know she still likes to compete. She probably doesn't work as hard on her game as she did when she was in her prime, but with a family and stuff, it's hard to do.

Q. Bouncing all over the map here, one other thing about Tiger, how it relates to the LPGA, do you think what he's doing it will take any attention away from the LPGA in the broad scope of golf? Or is it possible he could bring extra people to the LPGA because of more attention on golf and the game?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I think what he's doing for golf is going to do nothing but help us, as far as popularity. But on the other hand, I think what Karrie has done on our side of the TOUR is just as good as what Tiger has done on their side of the TOUR, and I don't think Karrie has got the respect or the notoriety that she deserves. Granted, it's a women's organization and we don't get the coverage that the men get, but what she has accomplished and what Tiger has accomplished is pretty remarkable. As far as side by side, if you were to compare her career and Tiger's career, I think they would be pretty compatible.

Q. This is the 20th anniversary of the McDonald's event and you played some of the earlier ones. What are some recollections that you have?

JULI INKSTER: It's grown. And the true winner of the McDonald's tournament is the charities and the money they put into that. Being a mother, and being very fortunate to have two lovely kids, I think that's the biggest part that I'm very pleased with. You know, the tournament as far as -- the course gets better each year; the players are getting better; the hamburgers are getting better; the crowds are getting bigger. I think each year, it's grown and I think it's grown into what McDonald's wanted it to be. With the Pro-Am, the charity, the golf, I think it's a true championship.

Q. Could you speak a little about the course and the differences in the previous few years, as opposed to this year?

JULI INKSTER: I think you guys had a little bit of rain. I think that helps the rough. It's very thick. But the fairways are cut down nice. I don't see as much poa in the greens as there has been over the years. They are rolling very true and very fast. I think the number one priority is hit the ball in the fairway, whether you do it with a driver or a 3-wood or 5-wood, because it's going to be tough making birdies out of the rough.

Q. What are your plans for Saturday to celebrate quite a significant birthday?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I turn 30 on Saturday. (Laughter.) You know what, I have no plans. I know I'm going to be playing some golf, but other than that, no plans.

Q. What's on the breakfast menu this year?

JULI INKSTER: I don't know. I don't know. I'm sure French toast will be on the menu one morning. Saturday, you know, I really don't know. I'm sure my kids are planning a party.

Q. Did you make any French toast when you were in Evian?

JULI INKSTER: No, but you know when you're in France, you should be able to get French toast. You get French fries.

Q. What do you think about the Solheim Cup this year, given there was a little -- the stuff with Dottie from Muirfield then coupled with some bitter feelings on the men's side from September at Brookline?

JULI INKSTER: I would like to see it toned down a little bit. I think when they started this thing, it was more of a get-together, have a match, have a beer afterwards and we move on. I think it's gotten -- it's gotten too heated and I think it's lost it's perspective. You know, I played with Dottie, and Dottie did nothing wrong. I mean, I don't even know where they are getting this from. In their minds, she did something wrong; so, you know, I would really like to see -- I know we're over there, it's going to be -- we're going to be the underdogs. But I would like to see it get back to a friendly match, instead of a rivalry. I mean, I don't know, it's too heated. We play with these girls all year long. We go out to dinner with them all year long, and then for one week, no one talks to anybody. It makes no sense. I mean, would I like to see it get back to being fun and, you know, shaking hands afterwards and move on.

Q. A brunch and play golf?

JULI INKSTER: As far as myself, it's the best time I have, playing golf all year. I love team partnerships. I love playing for the country. It's so exciting. We had such a great venue at Muirfield Country Club, the last Solheim Cup, it was just great. It was the most fun I've ever had. I'm going to go out there, in Scotland, and I'm going to have fun. I'm going to enjoy it.

Q. Do you think there might be any spill-over from Brookline?

JULI INKSTER: I'm sure there's going to be. But as far as our team, you know, we have to play as a team, because it's going to be 12 against a lot of people over there. I think that's what Judy Rankin did so well is we played as a team, and I think Pat Bradley is trying to do that right now is get a team atmosphere. You know, be a leader. She needs to go out there and lead and say: "You're playing today" and "you're sitting out today." And you've got to respect her decision. You're going to have 12 players that want to play every match, and it just doesn't work out. When Judy Rankin says, "Juli you're sitting out," I say, "all right." I respect that, and I know you have a reason why, and you know, I'll go out and put my pom-poms on.

Q. Or you can write a book.

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, it is wild, I'll tell you. It's wild. But we're going to have a good team. Our team is playing well. You know, we might have a couple rookies in there which is great. I think we need some good, young blood in there, get some experience in playing in the Solheim Cup. It's going to be fun. We're going to have a great time.

Q. How do you come up with the idea that you are the underdogs?

JULI INKSTER: I think when you go into their -- the other side of the pond, I think it's like when you go to someone else's home court, I think you are the underdogs. We might have won the Cup, but as far as playing over there, I think we are going to be the underdogs.

Q. Truly all the indications that you go over as overwhelming favorites.

JULI INKSTER: Well, you can put whatever you want in the paper, but the bottom line is, you've still got to play the matches. I don't know, I just think when you go to someone else's home court, I think you're probably the underdogs.

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