June 6, 1999
WEST POINT, MISSISSIPPI
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, the 1999 United States Women's Open champion, Juli Inkster.
JULI INKSTER: That's me.
RHONDA GLENN: Juli, I have been there for most of your Women's Opens. 1988, you had the lead after two rounds, and that one went by the wayside. 1992, I'll never forget that. That was a heartbreaker. And I recall you got very emotional on the 18th green in '92, and you did that again today, but for a different reason. So please just tell us what it was like out there; your thoughts. First, tell us how you felt when you knew you had it won.
JULI INKSTER: Well, the hardest part today was just not getting ahead of myself. Honestly, I didn't sleep very good last night, and probably no one expected me to sleep very good. But I just -- I just told myself: I've got to have the heart to win this thing. You don't get very many opportunities to do it, and I just thought it was my tournament. To lose it again, I don't know if I could have gone through another one. So it was just a long morning this morning. I came out here and just couldn't wait to get to the tee. It's great. You know, it's funny you were talking about 1992. I talked to Patty Sheehan before I left, because we keep in constant touch. And she just said: Juli, it's your time to win this thing. And then to go out and do it; you've just got to have all the arrows pointing in the right direction to win the U.S. Open. Whether it's the way you're hitting the ball, your putting, your chipping. Everything has just got to be pointed in the right direction. It's so hard to get it to go there for four days. And I probably played four of my most consistent rounds of golf that I've ever played. It's great to come out on top.
RHONDA GLENN: How important was that bunker shot out of the -- the fried egg lie on No. 7?
JULI INKSTER: That was the all-world bunker shot right there. That was a great bunker shot. It was -- it was huge. But I remember at the Solheim Cup on the 12th hole, Meg Mallon and I were practicing those. I remember she was just kind of popping them out, and I was like: How are you doing that? She goes: Just take a big swing and kind of quit on it and keep that club face open. I went back to one of Meg's tricks, and it worked at the right time. Because those, you don't practice. Just keep your hands right there, and it kind of pops out. Worked today.
RHONDA GLENN: Anything could have happened with that shot: Gone over the green, the water.
Q. How bad was that lie?
JULI INKSTER: It was bad. It was different sand; and really, any other golf course, it was real soft and fine, and the ball was just sitting down with the big critter right -- critter right there. It was a great shot. Kelli was on the front nine just zinging it to the hole. Playing great. I just kept playing my own game and parred there. Really, my only bad putt on No. 8 was where I missed that short putt. But I just hung in there. And coming down the stretch, I just hit my irons where I wanted to; so, it was great.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like last night not sleeping?
JULI INKSTER: Hardest part was it really was my tournament to lose. No one had the pressure on except me. If I didn't win this tournament, you know, I had no one to blame but myself. But, you know, especially with how tough the course played today, with the wind and the greens being harder, you know, there's no way someone was going to shoot 8-under par. I knew I had to shoot par or better to win. So it was my tournament. And that's the hardest part is you try to just: Okay, it's just another tournament. Just do what you have been doing. But in golf, I mean, you can wake up one day and just not really feel your swing or not feel your game. And you can switch like that. That's why you see some 66s and some 76s. You don't know what happens. But the other night, something happens. I was just tossing and turning all night, just telling myself that I've got the game; to win this thing.
Q. Juli, does having come close in '88 and '92, does that really kind of set the table more for this win? Make it more special?
JULI INKSTER: I don't know. I don't think so. I think whenever you win your first U.S. Open, it's special. I've played a lot of years, and I think the calibre of player -- I should come close sometimes. You just -- this just was my time. And '92 was a heartbreak, don't get me wrong. I was devastated for a long time. I lost '92 Open in a playoff, and I lost the Dinah Shore in a playoff, and I kind of pride myself on the playoffs. But to come back and win today, no one can take that away from me. I'm a U.S. Open champion and always will be.
Q. You keep talking about it was your tournament. Was there a point before you pulled the ball out of the hole on 18, where you said, "My name is going on that trophy"?
JULI INKSTER: With my golf game, you just never know. Even though I felt like I was in control, I never -- you know, Kelli sinks that putt on 17, and I'm like, in my head: Aah, I've got a three-footer for par. When I drove the ball in the fairway on 18, I just felt like it's my tournament, and I'm -- I'm the champion. You know, it just felt -- I felt a lot of energy and support from my fellow golfers. I really felt that, you know -- Meg came up to me and Helen Alfredsson and Karrie Webb. I just felt them rooting for me. As a player, I think that's the greatest compliment you can get is when your fellow pros want you to win a golf tournament.
Q. Not just the pros, but the fans, too. The ovation you got seemed to catch you by surprise.
JULI INKSTER: It was. I didn't expect it. And the thing is, I still didn't really feel comfortable. I wanted to acknowledge the crowd, because they were so supportive, but I just didn't want to get ahead of myself; and hopefully, I accomplished both.
RHONDA GLENN: That was on 16, the ovation.
Q. Juli, you won two majors as a rookie before Se Ri came along, and you won two U.S. Amateurs before Tiger. Do you think your career has been appreciated as much?
JULI INKSTER: I think the last, I don't know, 10 years, golf has just picked up on a high. I really don't think golf was as popular as it is now, and the media was not as involved as it is now. I think maybe if I did it when, you know, 10 years ago instead of 20 years ago, I think I would have been a little more appreciated. But I'm very content with where I'm at with golf game. And I know a lot of people respect my game. I don't need the fanfare with it. I just want to play golf and want to be mom.
Q. Did today's round have more of a U.S. Open feel to it than maybe the past three?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, it definitely did. I thought the course played extremely tough today, with the crossing wind and strong wind and breeze firming up. I thought the course played extremely tough, and I was glad to see that, because I didn't think anybody could shoot 7- or 8-under today.
Q. Have you spoken to the girls? And what was their reaction?
JULI INKSTER: I have not spoken to them yet.
RHONDA GLENN: What was it you said walking down the fairway?
JULI INKSTER: Cori's into the trophies, so she doesn't care how I play, just as long as I bring home a trophy. It's a big one, too. She'll like that.
RHONDA GLENN: What did Brian say to you, if it's not too personal, when you saw him after you won?
JULI INKSTER: I think he said he's doing the dishes for the next week. Isn't that what you said? He just said, you know, "I'm really proud of you." He says, "I love you a lot, and you just said you're a U.S. Open champ."
Q. Was there ever a point early on, No. 1, you're back on the mound, tricky downhill lie, and bogey later on, and you felt it might have been getting away from you a little bit?
JULI INKSTER: No. 1, I just kind of had a shooter lie out of there. I wasn't expecting it to shoot. Fortunately, I had a lot of green to work with. Nothing like testing your nerves right out of the block. I had a 4-footer for par and went ahead and made that. And then Kelli made birdie on 2, and I sunk a birdie on top of her, and we were off. Those first two putts were very key to my day today.
JULI INKSTER: I really haven't really played a lot with Kelli and I really don't know Kelli that well. The last six months or so, talking to her more and gotten to know her more, and knew -- I knew she won't would not give up. And she's a very determined golfer, but on the other hand, she's a very -- she always hits good shots. She always hits a good putt. You know, she's fun to play with. She gets that old blood of mine pumping. I mean, she reminds me so much of me when I was coming out. As far as maybe not personality-wise, but just her guttiness and her desire to win. She came out when everything was expected for her to play good and she struggled. But when she was not exempt, she was out there practicing and practicing and practicing, and you have to hand it to her. She could have just said: You know, I'm going to walk away from it, but this is what she wants to do. And she went after it, and she's playing -- she's playing extremely well.
Q. You've talked about since you're a mother, you've got other things going on in your life. Golf isn't life and death, and you're not as competitive as you used to be. How do you reconcile that attitude with how you were feeling today about winning this?
JULI INKSTER: I still feel I'm very competitive, but I don't take it home with me as much. I think -- I think I'm very content with where I'm at in my golf game and where I'm at in my family life. I think, finally, now I can realize I can do both. I can play golf and also have a family. And for awhile there, I just wasn't quite sure I could do both. I've got a great network of family that helps me out, and I could not do it without them. But the last few years have been very much fun, and it's great to be playing among top girls.
RHONDA GLENN: We noticed also that Juli is the first mother of two children to win the Women's Open, if you're really into trivia.
Q. You were trying to juggle your career and your family but the last three years, you've earned more TOUR earnings money than you did the previous seven or eight, and you've now won three tournaments this year. Is there a -- do you feel like you can even go higher with your game?
JULI INKSTER: I don't know. I was telling my caddie out there I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this. It's nerve-wracking out there. I love what I do, and to be able to walk up the 18th hole with a five-shot lead at the U.S. Open, it just doesn't get any better than that. I was just hoping I would have some type of lead walking up the 18th hole. And to have a five-shot lead -- you know, the way I'm playing, I don't really foresee myself not finishing out the year good. I just feel like I'm playing well. I feel like I'm hitting the ball good and putting good. So I think probably the weakest part of my game this week was my chipping, and usually that's probably the best part of my game. So I just feel I'm just improving in every aspect of my golf game.
Q. What's your caddies's name?
JULI INKSTER: Greg Johnston.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit about the support that Brian has given you over the years?
JULI INKSTER: You know, it's not every husband that can let their wife go out with the kids, take the kids, and go out for three weeks on the road. You know, he just -- he's got his own job. He's the head pro at Los Altos Country Club. It's really hard to juggle both careers. You know, we sometimes lack in the family vacations, because he's either coming out and seeing me or I'm at home and when I'm at home I don't want to go anywhere. So we sacrifice a lot. But I think we make it work. I think Brian really enjoys what I do, and I think he likes coming out and watching. That means a lot. It would be really hard for me to do what I'm doing without his support -- "Honey" (To Brian).
RHONDA GLENN: Could you put the U.S. Women's Open in context with other tournaments you've won and other championships?
JULI INKSTER: I think every tournament has a special place. But, you know, this is the ultimate tournament. This is what you play for is to -- this is what everybody tries to peak for is the U.S. Open. You know, I've played one week in the last four weeks I don't know, I think maybe mentally I was just really refreshed. You know, usually I always play right up to the Open, because I feel like I play better as the weeks go on. But I don't know, just to win this golf tournament, I don't know if it was my greatest accomplishment, but it's one of my top ones.
Q. Did you have a swing thought that started the first tee and lasted all the way to the 18th?
JULI INKSTER: I've been working -- I went and worked with Mike the last couple days, last week, and he came out this week. And he's trying to have me stand taller. Sometimes I lift my hands and I roll my hands; so, try not to do that. And Brian came, and I just felt a little bit off. And Brian said my club face was just a little cross-line; so, I tried to keep it a little shorter the last couple days. And coming down the stretch today, my irons were great. It finally felt like it was clicking.
Q. How many more years do you think you'll play, and will you start looking at the LPGA Championship with any more thirst?
JULI INKSTER: My goal right now is to play on the Solheim Cup in 2000 that's in Scotland. After that, I said this two years ago that I was going to cut back, but I just really foresee myself playing 10 to 12 tournaments a year. I'm going to have a 1st grader and a 5th grader, and it's just getting harder and harder to take them out. When they get back, they are just loaded with homework and stuff. But, you know, I'm going to cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now, I'm going to play this year full-time and play next year full-time and go from there.
RHONDA GLENN: How will you celebrate?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I'm going to go do a clinic in Rochester tomorrow. How's that? But Tuesday, my five-year-old is graduating from preschool, and Hayley made the softball playoffs; so, they have their first playoff game on Tuesday; so, I can't wait to get home for those.
Q. Can you just talk about the course?
JULI INKSTER: You guys have to admit, wasn't it great seeing birdies out there? I thought the course set up great. I thought George Bryan did a great job with this golf course. I thought it was a great U.S. Open. I mean, the crowds we had were -- great. I'm glad it cooled off a little bit for them. But I thought a lot of us played extremely well. And I just happened to make a few more putts at the right time.
RHONDA GLENN: Crowds, by the way, will be either the second or third highest that we've ever had, and this is not exactly a major market. So all of you who live here should be very proud.
Q. Juli, if shooting 16-under in a U.S. Open isn't your greatest accomplishment, what else do you have up there?
JULI INKSTER: Well, winning my three U.S. Amateurs were -- to win those, Match Play, if you know Match Play, you can get someone hot, and boom, you're out of there. So winning three U.S. Amateurs in a row was phenomenal. You know, winning the U.S. Open is -- is probably what I'm most proud of. I mean, not a lot of people could say they have won the Women's Open. When you travel and someone says: You're the one who won the U.S. Open; every country knows when what the U.S. Open is. I think that's an honor that I will always treasure is that I will always be a U.S. Open champion.
Q. Juli, people might think because you've won here, now that you're so much closer to the Hall of Fame, you may want to play more. But, in essence, is what you're saying that because you won here, you'll probably play less?
JULI INKSTER: No. I'm going to keep my schedule. I've got three more points to get in the Hall of Fame. The thing with the Hall of Fame is I might win two more tournament this is year and I might have to play another five years to win that last one. You know, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. I'm giving myself opportunities to win. I think I finished in the Top-10 nine times this year already. If I can just give myself opportunities to win, I feel like I can earn those three points. But I'm not going to put a time, date. I'm not going to say if I don't have it by then I'm going to play another year. It would be a great honor and it would be probably the topper of my career. You know, I look back on my career and I say I've done myself proud. I don't have anything to hang my head down about. In the next two years, I'm going to shoot for those three points. That's my that's my goal.
Q. What is the hardest part of juggling your career and your family? Is it saying good-bye?
JULI INKSTER: The hardest part is trying it get everybody where they are supposed to be. You know, who is coming out with me; who is going where; who is staying with the kids; who is picking Hayley up. You know, Brian has his schedule I have my schedule; trying to get them both to work. Saying good-bye is tough. My five-year-old he understands mom is going to work; she's coming bark. But Cori is five. I think she understands what I do, but she wants me to do it in my area. She wants me to play golf in any area. And it's hard leaving her. You know, she always wants to know how many more days till I come home; how many more days till I come home. That's the hardest part.
Q. When you won the three Amateurs, did you envision it would take this long to win an Open?
JULI INKSTER: I think when I first started, my goal was to win every major. And I won two in my first year; so I'm thinking: It's not that hard. And then it's been a long time coming since I win my third -- well, it's my fourth, but my third different one. The players are just so good now. They are just -- you've got the foreign contingent. Now you've got Grace Park coming out. You've got Jenny Chuasiriporn coming out. Kelli Kuehne. You've just got a lot of good, young players. It's really hard to stay on top and be a top player. You know, it's just a putt here and a putt there, and some confidence here and confidence there. But, you know, I feel like you know, maybe when I was their age, they are going out here and playing gung-ho, too, and I think that's the way you have to play.
Q. Where will the trophy go?
JULI INKSTER: I don't know. Probably put it in Brian's shop at Los Altos Country Club.
Q. Have you left that spot vacant for seven years?
JULI INKSTER: You know the U.S. Amateur trophy went well for three years, so I knew the U.S. Open trophy could go there, too. I have to make sure Brian's staff polishes it every now and then. Thank you for all your support this week. You guys have been great and I appreciate all the nice things you've said about me. Thank you.
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