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June 25, 2000

Juli Inkster


DEBBIE EARECKSON: We'll just start with some questions for Juli, and we'll do her card at the end.

Q. Just thoughts about winning this thing and having to do all that extra work?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I'm very excited win. I didn't play as good as I'd like to have played today, but I felt like I did hit a lot of good shots. I made a lot of good putts. But, you know, it was just a survival test out there. I didn't feel like I was playing that bad, and it was just -- between the putting and hitting the fairways, you know, I was kind of struggling with my swing all week. But, you know, I hung in there. Disappointed I made bogey on the final, but coming out of the rough, you just don't know what it's going to do. I would have liked to have made the putt, but I didn't, so I just kind of tried to regroup and hopefully just prevail. That's the best word for it, just prevail.

Q. How big a factor was the tree on 14?

JULI INKSTER: I made double. I know that tree got in the way, twice. But, you know what, I hit a good putt on 16, and a good putt on 15 -- and a good putt on 16, and a great putt on 17, and they just didn't go in. I thought I played the last four holes pretty good.

Q. You looked like you were able to hold it together when the round might get away from you. Is that just experience?

JULI INKSTER: I tried to not get frustrated because I just didn't feel like I was playing that bad. You know, bogeys are so easy out there, and birdies are so hard. I mean, the putting out there is just -- the end of the day, the spike marks and how hard they are, and crusty; it's just tough.

Q. Did this one age you?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah. I told Hayley, "I'm getting too old to do this stuff."

Q. You didn't dance?

JULI INKSTER: I didn't have any reason to dance. I was too tired to dance. You know, if you said at the start of this week that I could be in a playoff to win this tournament, I would have been excited.

Q. What does it mean to win this tournament at this stage?

JULI INKSTER: At this point in my career, just winning a major is what it's all about. You know, I haven't played much this spring. And I think I let one get away at Myrtle Beach, which I thought I should have won and I just -- I just kept trying to tell myself that, you know, you're doing well; no one is tearing this golf course up. Just hang in there. And, you know, to win back to back LPGA Championships is pretty special.

Q. Can you compare the feeling from last year to this year?

JULI INKSTER: Two different golf courses. Hardly any rough, no wind, the greens were holding. Just a different golf course. The superintendents did a great job in getting this golf course ready for a major championship. It was like an Open out there. I was proud of myself, hanging in there. You know I never thought I could shoot 4-over to win this tournament.

Q. Your feelings about having a four-shot lead as opposed to --

JULI INKSTER: Well, it's a lot more stressful having a one-shot lead and bogeying the last hole. That's stuff you have nightmares about. But golf is a funny game, and sometimes you've got to take what it gives you. But I hung in there played with a lot of heart. Stefania played great. Wendy Ward, you can't say enough about her, Nancy Scranton. You know, it's like everybody made the turn right there, and then -- and then strokes are coming off like Weight Watchers. They are just falling by the wayside.

Q. Did you notice what was going on on 13?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I did. I didn't see it, but Wendy said it moved right away.

Q. Last year, when you won, you completed the Grand Slam, which was obviously pretty special. How satisfying is this, to have come off a great year like last year and really prove today that there's no let up?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, it means a lot. It means a lot to me, personally, just to prove to myself that I can still play with these girls, and I'm still one of the top players. You know, I work hard at my game, and I love the game of golf. I love competing, and sometimes it's not easy. Sometimes, you know, you bogey the last couple holes and you lose a tournament and you fret the whole week: Why am I doing this, I don't need to do this. But, you know, next week you tee it up and you're right back at 'em. And it's in my blood. I love to compete.

Q. How odd is it to win a major fighting your swing all the way?

JULI INKSTER: It's hard. I still don't feel comfortable with my swing. You know, I tried to take a lot of practice swings out there, especially since it was windy today. But, you know, I made some good shots yesterday. Yesterday won me the golf tournament. That's why they make it four rounds. Maybe one day you can win it and not play so good the next day, and still come out a champion.

Q. Did you celebrate your birthday at all last night? Can you give us any thoughts on what it's like to turn 40 and win such a big tournament?

JULI INKSTER: We ended up having a party at the place we're staying at. Their family was there and my family and, you know, we didn't eat until about 8:30, 9:00, opened up some great presents, and were in bed by about 11:30. The good thing about staying with a family like that and having a birthday and not -- you mean, you don't have time to think about your golf. By the time you get there, get done practicing and get home and make dinner for everybody, and make sure they are bathed and cleaned and it's time to go to bed. And I was tired last night. I was tired.

Q. What was your best present?

JULI INKSTER: I got two great presents from them. Hayley made me a pottery played with clouds and a sun, and Cori made me a teddy bear with all different colors.

Q. Did you make dinner?

JULI INKSTER: No. The family we are staying with, he cooked some steaks, so we had steaks on the grill.

Q. Breakfast?

JULI INKSTER: Breakfast we fend for ourselves, scrambled eggs and cereal.

Q. This present might be the best?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, this is a good win for me. You know, I'm very -- I'm disappointed with the way -- shooting 4-over today, but you know, still, a win is a win. I made some shots when I had to, and that's the bottom line.

Q. You talk like your career is over, but you're better than ever.

JULI INKSTER: You know, I am playing well. I'm very happy with the way I'm playing. You know, it's a lot of hard work to keep up near the top. It's very stressful, but I enjoy it.

Q. You're playing a little less this year, do you have a time line for when you want to hang it up?

JULI INKSTER: You know, I don't know that I'll ever just hang it up. Really, the majors are what it's about but this year, I'll probably only play about 20 of the last year I probably played 26, 27 and then next year, probably play about 18.

Q. When will you start focusing on the U.S. women's Open?

JULI INKSTER: Well, I'm playing them week, and then I'm taking the week of Toledo off and I'm going to go see my teacher, which I desperately need. So I'm going to go work with him a couple days, go home for five or six days, and we'll -- I'll go play JAL, and JAL is a good test to get ready for the Open.

Q. Do you think the USGA would have to do much more to the course right now the way it is?

JULI INKSTER: USGA would love 3-under to win a golf tournament. That's what they strive for, just a couple under par and the rest over par. This is definitely a championship tournament.

Q. What did you hit into 18, regulation?

JULI INKSTER: I hit 5-iron.

Q. Could you go over the 10th hole, the second playoff hole, shot by shot?

JULI INKSTER: I hit 3-wood off the tee. I had 132. I was between a 9-iron and 8-iron and I hit a little 8-iron. Landed about six or seven steps short and just kind of rolled to the back. You know, she was over the green, which is jail. I had a very slick putt, because I had to go over to the fringe, and then onto the green. What I was trying to do was just get it over the fringe, and I knew it just went down there.

Q. Before the round, you were practicing putts, a few extra ones?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, the shorter putts out here are tough, because, you know, it's very crusty, and at the end of the day a lot of little things, and you've just got to hit them. So I was just trying to make sure I was accelerating on them.

Q. Did you head into those last three holes thinking about the magic?

JULI INKSTER: Yesterday, I went birdie, birdie, birdie. So I was thinking I was going to do it today, but, you know I hit a great putt on -- 16, I hit a good putt. 17, I thought it was in the hole. I mean, I hit a great putt there. And then I bogeyed 18. But, still comes out the same.

Q. How worried were you when you were going through the trouble on 14 with the tree?

JULI INKSTER: I was worried, but I really got a great break when I hit my fourth shot; that at least I had a shot to the green and bounced on the tree and bounced over. I thought I made my putt there, but I don't know, it was probably a stupid shot. Probably just should have just chipped out, got my bogey and moved on. But, you know golfers, they are pretty stubborn.

Q. You have won as many majors as any other active player out here, do you ever think of yourself -- I know you got into the Hall of Fame last year, but do you ever stop and reflect on where you are in the history of the game?

JULI INKSTER: No. I probably don't give myself as much credit as I should, because I think it keeps me hungry and makes me work hard. I guess I'm never really satisfied with where I'm at, and, you know, maybe when I sit back in my rocking chair at 41, I'll have more thoughts on that. But I'm very proud of the way I've carried myself on the golf course and my career and my family, and to be able to do all of it, and be successful at it. I feel good about it.

Q. Was there many endorsement opportunities, especially after last year that you found yourself confronted with?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I got a lot of opportunities, just to travel around the world and play, but that's not me. I'd just as soon play out here and be close to home and have the girls come out. They are going to go to the British Open with me and the Swedish Open, but I've decided I'm just going to play in tournaments that I want to play in, but not tournaments I think I should play in.

Q. Was it hard to turn some of this money down?

JULI INKSTER: Yeah, but I don't play for the money. You know, to me, it's got to be an awful lot to leave my kids for a week.

Q. A lot of players have had a tough time following up a great year like you had last year --

JULI INKSTER: I thought it was very important for me to get off to a good start at the start of this year, just to let myself know that I'm still there and still playing. I played -- we had two tournaments in Florida and when I played fairly well, I think I finished second and third, and then I took six weeks off, and I really needed it to just kind of get away from it.

Q. Yesterday, you talked about the long plateau, being on top of the hill a little bit, and now you've won this tournament, and you said you're not too happy with your swing, do you see that plateau continuing for a while?

JULI INKSTER: You know, I'll get that swing down. This week, playing on a difficult golf course like that, it just brings out every little flaw you have. It just enhances it. So I've got, you know, four days before I have to tee it up next week; so I'll get it by next week.

Q. Do you think you can still compete as well when you start scaling back?

JULI INKSTER: You know what, that's kind of why I'm only playing 20 this year, just to see if I can -- if I can compete on a level that I'm used to, scaling back. You know, I only played -- I played, I think once in May. I took two weeks off before Myrtle Beach. Played Myrtle Beach and took Rochester off. So I only played -- one week there and now I'm playing five out of six, so this is my big stretch. But, you know, so far I've done pretty good.

Q. Which one of those Snack Wells cookies are you going to have?

JULI INKSTER: I'm going to have a SnackWells Coors Light. (Laughter.) No. 3, I hit -- drove it in the rough, through the fairway, thought I hit a pretty good drive, 3-wood and then I hit 7-iron to the right, made a pretty good chip about four feet and missed it. No. 4, I hit sand wedge about 15 feet and made that for birdie. No. 6, again I thought I was in the fairway, was in the rough, hit out short. Chipped up and missed about an 8-footer for par. And then 14, I drove it in the right rough. It hit the tree, and hit the tree, ditto-ditto, and then I lobbed it. I had about a 50-yard shot back over the bunker about 25 feet and 2-putted for double. 18, I drove it in the right rough. Hit 5-iron out in the bunker; hit it out like six feet and missed the putt.

End of FastScripts….

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