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July 3, 2002
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Juli Inkster has 27 career victories. She's been playing very well this year. She had another win just a couple weeks ago. I'd like to introduce you to our 1999 United States Women's Open champion.
Juli, I know how much it meant to you. You were raising your hands, and telling your daughter you're bringing home a trophy this time. Does that feeling -- winning the Women's Open, does that stay with you and linger when you come back to a Women's Open site.
JULI INKSTER: It stays with you through your lifetime, I know that much. I'll never forget that feeling, but you play to play in the majors, the Women's Open, the LPGA, Dinah Shore, because it's testing your golf and testing your patience; and this golf course, that is all that: You've got to drive the ball well, hit good iron shots, chip well, and putt well, so it's going to be four long days, plus the wind, so get plenty of rest.
MODERATOR: You have special memories of this golf course, winning memories, because you won one of your three United States Women's Amateurs here?
JULI INKSTER: I won my first one here. That was 22 years ago, a long time, but I do have fond memories of winning, and it kind of got my career going. I just got married two weeks before that, and I wasn't even going to play, came out here and just kind of -- i think I qualified in the middle and just, as match play goes on, the more I started to play, the more confidence I got. And I remember I beat Carol Semple Thompson in the semis.
The first person I saw when I arrived in Hutchinson was Carol Semple, and I said, "Do you remember anything about this golf course?" And she said, "I remember you beat me on the 17th hole." I said, "I remember that, too." But, you know, I remember good things like that. I don't really remember all the holes and everything, but I remember the good memories.
MODERATOR: Do we have some questions for Juli? And please wait for the microphone.
Q. Juli, you talk about the feeling you had winning the Open and how that lingered. I wondered, go back to the Amateurs that you won here. Do you remember the feelings of winning that? Because you said it was something that got your career going.
JULI INKSTER: I came out of nowhere to beat Patty Rizzo, and she was at that time the hottest amateur there was, and I just -- looking back on my career, winning three U.S. Amateurs in a row is probably my best feat. I mean, I didn't even realize what I was doing at the time.
You, as an amateur golfer, you hit a driver every hole, don't think about anything, brush those 5-footers in like it's nothing. And looking back on my career, if I were to try to win three U.S. Amateurs now, I probably couldn't do it, because I would over-think, and that's the test part is not thinking and letting your instincts do it.
Q. Is that maybe a strategy for you?
JULI INKSTER: Go out there and play, because I'm playing well, I feel like I'm hitting the ball well. I try not to make this tournament any bigger than it is, and come Sunday, I'd like to give myself a chance, and that's I think all you can ask.
Q. Juli, granted an LPGA Amateur is not an Open, but I was wondering if you could offer some perspective on how difficult it will be for Karrie Webb to try to win three straight Opens?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, she's got the game to do it because this golf course requires distance and accuracy, and she's got both of those. You know, I would say she's got just as good a chance or better chance than most people out here, so I think -- i think winning in Rochester really helped her, kind of took the pressure off her, what's wrong with Karrie, what's wrong with Karrie? And I look for her to be up there come Sunday.
Q. You said Karrie has just as good a chance as anyone. How about yourself?
JULI INKSTER: I think I do, too. I hit the ball well enough to play out here. If I get my putter going, you know, I feel like, you know, I've got just as good a chance. To win a U.S. Open, you've got to get some breaks, and good lies in the rough when you do hit it bad.
And I remember listening to one of Tiger's interviews when you started off -- I can't remember what
day -- he said "I remember I was hitting it bad and getting the good lies in the rough. It was my week." Which is pretty much every week for him.
But you've got to get some breaks out there, hit a lot of fairways, and try to get the ball on the green and make some putts.
Q. Yes, back row, please? Michelle?
I know your little girls come to tournaments before. Are they here this week? What are they going to be doing? And Nancy talked a little bit yesterday about how her daughters were into everything but golf. I'm wondering what your daughters are doing.
JULI INKSTER: My kids aren't here this week. They've been out the last two weeks. My oldest, Hayley, is 12, and she's at basketball camp this week. My youngest, Cori, is 8. She's with my mom and dad. But they play a little golf, not much. You know, it's --
i'm kind of at that point where, Do you push them to play or not push them to play? And I've kind of elected not to push them to play. They play a lot of other sports, dance. I didn't start until I was 15, and my oldest is 12, and I'm hoping maybe in a couple years she might get the bug.
Q. Would you be interested in them playing golf? What is it that you want for them?
JULI INKSTER: I think golf teaches you so much about life, and I think it's a great sport to play, and it's a sport you can play your whole life, and I think the earlier you learn it, the easier it is. And I just think it would be a good thing for them to learn to do.
Q. Juli, you've been kind of the standard bearer for American's women's golf. What will it take for more Americans to break through the dominance of international players?
JULI INKSTER: Well, you know, it's kinds of like myself raising my kids. I think the American families have their kids in everything. They do soccer; they do softball; basketball; swimming; and I think the foreign players, they pick a sport, and they do it, and they do it at an early age, whether it be golf, gymnastics, swimming, they don't do everything. And which way is right or wrong? I have no idea. But that's kind of the way I was raised.
I played all sports, and I just happened to play -- just happened to get a job at the golf course, and that's why I started playing golf. So I think that's -- i think golf now is becoming cool to play.
I look at all the girls and all the young kids out there watching us, and if it can become cool to play, I think we're going to get -- maybe not this era, but next era there's going to get a lot of good young American players, and I think it's going to be time.
MODERATOR: Questions? Back row.
Q. Do you feel like in practice thus far, you've gotten enough of the kind of conditions you're likely to see during play.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I played Monday, and it was howling out here, and howling is about 25 miles an hour, and that's probably a light breeze here, but for California, that's where you go inside, say "It's too windy," but I think it's going to be blowing, and this is the wind you're going to have.
Yesterday, with the rain, I think it helped us because it softened the greens a little bit, but today I came back out, and the greens are starting to seed up, they were holding better. So -- but I think if we don't get any rain, as the week goes on, Saturday and Sunday are going to be some tough golf.
Q. Did you have windy conditions during the Women's Amateur -- LPGA Amateur here?
JULI INKSTER: I can't remember. I called Brian, my husband. He flew in last night. And I was talking to him Monday, and I said "It's howling here," and he said, "Juli, it howled every day you were there." And I said "I don't remember that."
But it blows here, and we're going to have to -- the thing is, it's going to blow a certain way. It's not going to switch it up. It would be very rare for the winds to switch. So what you see Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday is what you're going to get during the week.
MODERATOR: Front row.
Q. Following up on the American theme, would you think it would be fitting on 4th of July weekend for an American to win this tournament.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, it would be great, and I'd love to be that American, but we got some good Americans playing well: Beth Daniel, Kelly Robbins, Meg Mallon, Wendy Ward -- I played a practice round with her today. She's hitting it extremely well.
But Annika, Karrie, and Se Ri are the three to beat, and until we beat them, they are the favorites to win, but four rounds of golf, I think we got a good shot.
Q. Juli I wonder, when you thought of the course, having been on it this week, the conditions of the course, the way it's set up, and if you can compare or contrast it to other Open courses, what it will be like?
JULI INKSTER: I think this has its own style. It's not -- when we played in Chicago it was kind of a links style golf course but, you know, the breeze would be right to left, and the holes would go left to right. I didn't -- that wasn't one of my favorite golf courses.
This links style you have enough area to drive the ball, you got to -- you got to play the win. That's the big key, and club selection. The greens are small, very undulating. If you hit the greens you're going to have a chance at birdie, but it might break 2 feet, but you'll have a chance. Middle of the green, you can middle of the green yourself to death here, and I think you'd be okay with that.
MODERATOR: Do we have a question on this side to somebody? Jim front row here?
Q. Juli, why is experience so valuable in an Open setting? You don't often -- although Annika won her first in the Open, but often you see an experienced player who wins and competes here.
JULI INKSTER: I think they realize it's not a 100-yard dash, it's a marathon. And I think even if you get off to a bad start, if you just stay patient and level headed, you're going to have a chance. You're going to make your bogies out there, and you got to try to suck it up and not make double bogies, keep your mistake to a minimum. I think maybe more veteran players do that.
Sometimes I feel like I'm a rookie out there because I think, I know I can get that on the green from here, but that's why sometimes you get a more experienced player to win.
MODERATOR: Question, Michelle, in the back row here.
Q. It seemed like maybe five or six years ago you were at the point of your career where you wondered, is it time to get out? Am I going to keep doing this? And what you've done instead is win your first U.S. Open, still be in contention at many of the majors.
What do you think is the turning point? What have you done that's helped.
JULI INKSTER: I had Cori in 1994, and I just decided from really from -- even though I played well in '92, from like 1990 to '94 I didn't play as well as I thought I could play, but I wasn't working on my game, and I really didn't have -- i didn't have a game plan, and I just decided -- i just decided, if I'm going to play, if I'm going to haul my kids around the country, I've got to put some time and effort into it.
And my husband, Brian, said, "You've got to give it a shot, go out there and work hard." They are kids -- my oldest, Hayley, knew what I did, and it just helped knowing that I could be a good mom and also play golf, because I really struggled with that.
When I grew up, my mom was there 24/7, and I just didn't feel comfortable going out and practicing and taking time out from being with Hayley, and I just realized, you know what? I can be a good mom and I can play good golf, but I need to work at it.
So I started working with Mike McGetrick, who Brian suggested I go to, because he had a lot of faith in him. Brian used to teach me, and it wasn't working out because we'd go down there and talk about kids and everything but golf.
So I started working with Mike, and Mike said, "What do you want to do? Do you want to be an average player? Do you want to get back to being a top player?" And I said I wanted to get back to being a top player. So we started working on my swing, and my short game, and my confidence was rock bottom, and it took me a good year and a half to get my confidence back, my swing back.
And in 1996 I started playing better and better, and in '97 I played better, and '98 I played better, and '99, I had some great years, and I've just played very consistent after that, and -- but, you know, a lot of it is hard work.
When I'm home, I work on my game while the kids are at school, so when I do come out here, I'm ready to play, and that's the only way I found out I can do it. I can't take two weeks off and come out here and expect to play well against these caliber of players. When the kids are in school, I play, I practice, I get with Mike.
So when I come out here, I'm ready to go. So far it's worked. I'm going to probably play 18 tournaments this year. That's what I played last year, and that's the perfect amount for me so I can do what I want to do at home, but I also can stay competitive out here.
MODERATOR: Jim, in the front row?
Q. Juli, there has never been a stroke play tournament for women here. How low will the women go if the wind doesn't get too high.
JULI INKSTER: I think the wind is going to get up so I don't know. I'm really bad at that, but I don't know. I think I'd take even par right now and head on home. Even par, a couple under is going to be a great score out here. To play four days in the wind, and the greens are going to get harder, I just -- i don't think it's going to be as high as Black Wolf Run, but that was an extremely tough golf course, too, but I just think it's a tough course.
Q. Juli, along the lines you were talking about before, can you a talk about once you've been successful, once you've won, keeping your hunger? How difficult is that? You look at Annika, and it seems she always wants to win so much. How hard is it to?
JULI INKSTER: I'm still very competitive and still very hungry, but I'm probably not as hungry as I used to be. I think just having a family, and I'm very happy in my family life and my personal life, and playing golf to me is fun. I really enjoy what I do, and if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it. I enjoy practicing. I enjoy trying to get better. But it's not my number 1 priority, and my family is my
number 1 priority.
And as long as I have that under control, everything is under control, I'll keep playing. I'm still very hungry to win, and to play consistent, and to be up there, but it's not my -- it's not my -- if I don't win, if I don't win, and I go out there and play four great rounds of golf, and I tried my hardest, I'm happy with that. I'll get them next week.
Q. So are the three of them hungrier than everyone else, do you think?
JULI INKSTER: Well, you know, it's different. I've got a family and I've got other responsibilities. When I was their age, golf was my number 1 thing, and that's -- that's what I lived and that's what I died for. I -- golf was it. And I think that's -- right now they are young enough, and it should be their only priority. It should be. That's their job, that's their focus. They want to be the best in the world. That's their -- right now, their objective, so when they start having kids, and having family, I think it will probably change, but right now I think that's their focus, and it should be.
MODERATOR: Questions? All right? Juli, thank you so much for your thoughtful answers and your time.
JULI INKSTER: Thanks.
Q. Good luck this week.
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