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May 25, 2003

Juli Inkster


NEAL REID: Before we start, just a few housekeeping things, records and such. This 62 is Juli's career-low round by two strokes. It's also a tournament record for lowest 18-hole score. And her 24-under total for this week is also a Corning Classic record and it breaks that record by four strokes. It is her 29th career victory, 17 of which have been come-from-behind victories. This is one of those included, and it ties the LPGA record for the lowest final round in LPGA history as well as the lowest final round by a tournament champion in LPGA history.

Having said all that, it's a lot to think about, I'm sure, tell us what got into you today. Can you just tell us what got into you today?

JULI INKSTER: I don't know. You know, I just was really calm today. I felt good. I felt like I was playing well enough to go out there and shoot a good score. Coming from three back is not easy, Catriona Matthew is a good player and Lorie Kane is up there and Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel, just some very good, strong players. I was just kind of hoping to get off to a good start and get a solid round going and see what happens. And I got off to a really good start. I made some good putts. I 2-putted No. 2 for birdie and I made a good birdie putt on 3 and 4. So I just got onto a good roll. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens on the front side and kept chipping away at it. I really wasn't leaderboard watching. I was just kind of focusing on what I needed to do and just get the ball on the green and get an opportunity for birdie.

Q. What was going through your mind after 13 when you started to struggle?

JULI INKSTER: Well, you know, I went to the restroom on 14. I shouldn't have done it. I hooked my 6-iron. It was kind of a hook lie, and I hooked it a little more than I wanted to and hit it in the trees. So I chipped out, but I chipped out to a yardage that was a lob-wedge for me, and it was 75 yards. So I thought it would play 80, 82 yards and hit a great shot there. And then I made the putt. I made about a 3-footer for par. On 15, I had 121 yards, 122 yards, maybe more than that, 123 yards, you know, so I tried to hit a little wedge, thinking I was playing 118, and flew it over the green. That was a huge wedge for me, so I think it was just a little adrenaline there.

I had a bad swing on 16. I made a bogey there.

And then 17, I had been hitting there just kind of on the right side all week and it just didn't turn over. I hit it in the bunker. I had a good lie in the bunker and felt pretty good -- hit a pretty good shot there.

Q. Was there some point when you felt you had it wrapped up?

JULI INKSTER: Well, yeah, I think the birdie on 17. When I got the ball in the fairway on 18 I felt pretty good. It's a tough driving hole. You have to shape the shot, but you don't want to shape it too much because the big tree on the left comes in. I asked Greg, my caddie, on 18, how everybody stands, and he told me I had a three-shot lead with them still having 17 to play, so I figured if I could get it on the green and 2-putt for par, I was pretty safe.

Q. At some point, are you thinking about a record score?

JULI INKSTER: No, I'm thinking win, just win the tournament. It's great to have those records, but some day they'll be broken, but you'll always be a winner here, which is great.

Q. You hadn't played here since 1996. Did you play partly because of the letter Commissioner Votaw sent to some players that asked them to play Corning?

JULI INKSTER: Well, let's just say it fit my schedule this year. I figured if I'm going to play, this would probably be the best time to play, because I took two weeks off prior and I took Augusta off. I just figured if I played Corning and Chicago, it gives me two weeks before the LPGA Championships, which you kind of want to peak for, so I thought it would be a good time to get here and play. So it worked out perfect for my schedule.

It definitely did help me decide to play here. When I was figuring out my schedule, I was either going to play Augusta and take Corning off, or play Corning and take Augusta off. I decided I hadn't been here for so long, I would play Corning.

Q. It's usually your girls' schedules that dictate your schedule, right?

JULI INKSTER: It's the girls' schedules, and what they've got going on. It just worked out good this week. They're kind of ending everything and it's a good time to get out.

Q. Talk about coming in here and maybe not being totally thrilled about playing here because you hadn't played well here in the past.

JULI INKSTER: I don't know. I got on the golf course on Tuesday and played a practice round and I played pretty well. I was thinking, you know what, I can play this golf course. I was asking Greg, what was last year's winner, and I think he said like 14 or 15 or something like that. I just felt the way I felt with my putter, it was coming around, that I can do that.

The key to this week for me is I got the ball in the fairway off the tee, most the time, and from there I played very good.

Q. What's your all-time best score ever?

JULI INKSTER: I shot 62 once before, just in a Pro-Am. It was a best-ball in Vegas, but this is my best competitive score.

Q. What does this say about women's golf with Annika playing Colonial this week and you playing so well?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I beat Annika by 29, so that feels pretty good (laughter). I can't say that very often. She usually beats me by 29. You know, I think we've got a great Tour out here and I think we have got a lot of great players that sometimes don't get noticed.

Annika won 13 times last year and it was just a blip. I mean, to do that is unbelievable, and it really takes for her to play in a PGA event to get the recognition that she deserves. Two days of recognition that she deserves, when last year she won 13 times and I don't think got the recognition she deserved. So everything she's done, she should get credit for because she works very hard on her game. She doesn't -- she's not complacent with where she's at in her game. She's always "good shot", "nice putt", "congratulations." You know, I think she does a lot for us.

Q. I know that some people were nervous about her playing Colonial. What do you think about that and how it will affect the Tour in the future?

JULI INKSTER: I really think that she gained a lot of respect from a lot of people, not just the PGA players. I'm talking about people that don't know golf, that don't know women's golf. You know, people that still think we hit it 210 off the tee and we just scrape it around. I think she gained a lot of respect outside. When you have someone like Charles Barkley or Kenny Smith, TNT, talking about Annika Sorenstam, and just the people that usually don't talk women's golf, talking golf, it's good for us.

The way she played on Thursday was awesome. And I think she played well on Friday. She just kind of struggled a little bit with her putter. But to have all that pressure for two days, I'm surprised she played as well as she did.

Q. With the Commissioner sending letters this year, maybe Annika will get one next year. How would you like to defend against her next year?

JULI INKSTER: I would love to. I like to play against the best, and she's the best. So bring it on.

Q. Can you talk about the competitive nature with you, Meg and Beth going into today?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, Megan and Beth are very good friends of mine. We've played on a lot of Solheim Cups together. I played with Meg yesterday, who is easy to play with. It's like playing a practice round with her. I played a couple of times with her in the Solheim Cup. We've been partners. And then Beth the same way. I feel very comfortable with Beth. And Beth was shaking her head all day today. Beth played great today. If I could have putted for her, she would have won the tournament. She had a lot of good putts that didn't go in. She could be standing here right now.

Q. Does it help you relax more and focus in more easily?

JULI INKSTER: We talk a lot of non-golf issues out there. So I mean, it's very relaxing and very easy going.

Q. What role did your caddie, Greg Johnston, play for you this week?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, he's always there. I mean he's always, you know, trying to be positive, telling me what the yardage is. We discuss clubs together. It's a team out there. We've got to work as a team in order to win this thing. He's a big part of it.

Q. How'd you wind up with a caddie from Sara, Pa.?

JULI INKSTER: It's a long story. Do you want to get into it? Ralph Scarinzi was working for me before, and when I got pregnant with my second child, Cory, Dottie Pepper was looking for a bag, for someone to carry her bag, and I said, "Why don't you use Ralph." And they started playing really well together, so I didn't have the heart to say come on back. They were doing well. I knew Greg previously. He went home. He wasn't caddying anymore, and I called him and I said, "Would you come out and work for me?" And he did. And we've been together ever since.

Q. Can you give your version of the trash-talking you and Lorie Kane did last night on the putting green?

JULI INKSTER: It was just as she said it. She had a 6-footer and I was walking off the thing. I said, this is your 6-footer for second place. You better make it.

Q. Do you like to play with the lead too?

JULI INKSTER: It's nerve racking, and that's the way I play. I love to be in the limelight. And sometimes it doesn't work out and you take your lumps and move on. I felt pretty comfortable coming from behind. It's a lot easier to come from behind than it is to hang on to the lead.

Q. What other options were you thinking about on 15?

JULI INKSTER: Greg wanted me to chip out. I wasn't chipping out. I can't believe that ball didn't hook more than it should have. When I first hit it, I thought it was a good shot, then I see it going to the right side of the tree and then the left side of the tree and I thought oh my God.

I left my third shot -- I didn't think I could actually hit it on the green from there and keep it on. I left my third shot right where I wanted to, short, and I didn't hit a very good chip. It was a pretty easy chip. And I ended up making the putt for bogey. That was a pretty big swing.

Q. On 16, you had trouble and Lorie was making pars. What were you thinking on 17 from the bunker?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, I didn't hit a bad shot -- it just didn't draw. Usually my shots draw off the tee and it just stayed there.

Q. Did it cross your mind at all that she could be within one going into 18?

JULI INKSTER: Not really, because I just felt it wasn't that hard of a shot. I felt like I could make par. She would have to birdie the last two to tie me. I was just kind of -- the only shot I had was going right at the pin, too. I didn't want to go left. I didn't want to go right. I just thought hit it and make sure you hit it more than 95 yards, and that was to carry the bunker and get it on the green, and I had a great shot there and then I hit a good putt. I was just cruising. Everything, I just had it all in control. And then I hit a bad 6-iron on 14. I didn't know where that came from.

Q. When did you know you had the lead?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I knew I had the lead, because we had a delay on the 13th tee, and I saw Catriona and Lorie's scoreboard that they were 19 and 18, or 18 and 19, or something like that, so I knew I had the lead. But that's the last time I really saw the leaderboard.

Q. What happens to you at that moment?

JULI INKSTER: Momentum, yes. It's weird. You feel it shifting. You try to slow everything down, slow the whole process down, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I definitely feel like I had the momentum going and I made one weird swing on 14 and then -- I didn't hit that bad of a shot on 15. I just flew it farther than I've ever flown a wedge before. Really, 16 was a bad swing. Other than that I felt like I hit some good shots.

Q. Did you feel like you had the momentum shifting your way?

JULI INKSTER: I birdied 2. I made a good birdie on 3. I hit a 5-iron in there to about 10 feet, made a good birdie there. Then on stuffed it on 4. Made about a 3-footer for birdie there. And that's what I kind of felt like I've got some stuff going.

Q. Are you playing next week?

JULI INKSTER: I am playing next week, yes.

End of FastScripts....

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