June 5, 1999
WEST POINT, MISSISSIPPI
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, Juli has an appointment. She will stay with us as long as she can, but ask all your questions here so that she can answer them all, and then she's going to have to leave. We'll try to accommodate her in that way. Just tell us about today. That's a 67, 5-under par. It's unusual for a player to have a great first round, a really good second round, and then a great third round. That's very hard to do in this championship.
JULI INKSTER: I started out good. I birdied one and two, and that kind of got me going. I feel a little better with my swing today; feeling good with my putter. Again, I played without a bogey, which is, you know it's hard to do on an Open golf course. I made a couple good par putts on No. 5 for par and No. 14 for par. But I played real consistent. I mean, I was really never in much trouble. And when I was, I was able to turn around and make it into a par.
Q. The players that have been in here before have thought that you are playing well enough now that they have made you their favorite. How comfortable are you with a four-shot lead going into tomorrow's round?
JULI INKSTER: Well, you know, I think it's my tournament. I've got to go out there -- I don't think 15-under is going to win this tournament. And, you know, all the pressure is going to be on me. So that's -- that's the toughest part of tomorrow. But, you know, I'm playing well and I'm playing relaxed. I feel good about my game. If I can go out and shoot, you know, 2-, or 3-under tomorrow, I think I have a good shot of winning this thing.
Q. Will it be a bigger battle playing the golf course or playing your own emotions about winning this tournament?
JULI INKSTER: I think the biggest battle tomorrow will be just playing my own game and playing the golf course and not thinking about the outcome. I think that's the hardest part of playing is just playing one shot at a time. I mean, I know it's the major cliche, but it's really hard. You know, 18 holes is a lot of golf. So I can't be looking ahead. I've just got to kind of focus on what I've been doing and not get caught up on the outcome.
Q. I was talking with Meg Mallon today, and she mentioned that she's known you for like 13 years and that she's never known your confidence level to be quite this high. If you win tomorrow, will that be the deciding factor -- your confidence all week?
JULI INKSTER: I think so. I think it's my confidence and my game and confidence in my family. And, you know, I've played well the last few years. I think I just -- I know I can do it. And I think that's the big difference.
Q. Is there a plan tomorrow? Attack again?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I can't see playing any other way. I played aggressive today. My swing is starting to feel more consistent, and I feel like my speed of my putts have been great; so, I'm just going to go out there and try to play the same.
Q. At what point then would you throttle it down? Will you do a lot of leaderboard watching?
JULI INKSTER: I don't think it's the type of golf course where you can play conservative. I think you've got to attack it and try to make birdies. I don't know. I don't foresee myself throttling it back.
Q. Under I know the circumstances are not identical, but you did have a lead in '92, and it unraveled, unfortunately. Are those thoughts in your mind? Or is that something you've buried permanently?
JULI INKSTER: I don't know -- I don't think I had a lead going into '92.
Q. I said different circumstances.
JULI INKSTER: That's seven years ago. Different golf course. Different -- yeah. Different area of my life. You know, I played -- I played my heart out in '92, and would not -- I played the best golf of my career probably that week. You know, I would not have changed anything. I look back on that a lot, and there is not one thing I would have done different. So I have nothing to be ashamed about or hold my head down for that. But, I mean, it's just a different area, different -- different -- I don't know. I just feel like I'm playing more consistent and playing better right now.
Q. I saw yesterday where you were talking a little bit about your contemplation of retirement back a few years ago, I guess, when your family life and kids were a priority. How seriously did you look at retiring? Did you actually say: Look, I'm quitting; walk away from it, and come back to it?
JULI INKSTER: It was very frustrating for me, because I've always been a good player, and I've always been a top player. And I just wasn't playing well. I was struggling with my game. I had one little one at the time, and then I had another one four years later. And I don't know. It's just -- I struggled a lot. Struggled a lot with my emotions as far as my family life. My mom was always there for me when I got home from school. I wanted to be there for my kids. It's just -- it's just the last few years, it's gotten a lot easier for me. They are nine and five now. They know what mommy does. They support what mommy does. They love to travel. It's just easier right now.
Q. Would you talk about this course and how it's suited to your game?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I just think it's -- I've said this before. But I feel like I don't have to pull back at all. I know that I can go ahead and let my driver rip, or I've been hitting a lot of 3-woods off the tee and getting them in the fairway. I feel like you've got to hit your irons well, which is sometimes the best part of my game. And greens, I feel like I can read. I feel like I've got a good feel of the greens. Right now, I'm playing good and I'm playing with some confidence; so, it's setting up good for my game.
Q. Do you think the USGA should go to courses like this every few years just to let you have some fun at the U.S. Open, or do you like the kind of courses where you really have to sort of pack it around?
JULI INKSTER: I'm having a lot more fun this year than I was last year at this time. I think I was doing a parade in Kohler, Wisconsin on Saturday instead of playing golf. I think this golf course is a great golf course. You know, I think it's great for women's golf. We can go out there and just make birdies, and it looks great on TV. I think it's, you know, I don't foresee every year the USGA is going to let us shoot 15-, 16-, 17-under. We've had perfect conditions. The golf course is in perfect shape. The greens are awesome. You know, we are good players. We can make birdies. We can shoot under par. I think that's showing.
Q. With your success as an amateur at USGA events, did you expect back then that you would be a good U.S. Open player; contend in this tournament a lot?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I always thought I would, because I used to play difficult golf courses good, where a lot of pars win stuff. But I really think to win the Open you have to have a golf course that sets up good for your game. You know, you get some breaks out there. And I think this course sets up good for my game.
Q. Just a little history. Your partnership with your caddie, Greg. Can you talk about that a little bit and the history there and what he contributes to your game?
JULI INKSTER: Greg has been with me since Cori has been born, so Greg has been with me four and a half years. Greg Johnston. He's been great. He drove my van around with all the baby paraphernalia in there. He makes sure to pick us up at the airport when I have the kids and gets us where we're going. He's like a brother to me. I've got two older brothers; he's like my younger brother. We have our difficulties out there. You know, I'm with him a lot; so, he gets sick of me. And I'm sure -- I know I get sick of him. But you know, I would do anything for Greg; and I think he'd do the same for me. So we do have a good relationship in that.
Q. Could you talk about -- some people have said that winning an Open is everything, it's the icing on the cake, or whatever. Others, it depends on what your view of the Open is. Would you tell us what it would mean to your career to win it? What it means to you?
JULI INKSTER: I think winning the U.S. Open would just kind of be the topper for Juli Inkster. I've had a great career in that I real really love what I do. I love playing golf. I love competing, and I think to win the U.S. Open would be the ultimate. I've got a long day tomorrow. A long, hard day tomorrow. I think I'm up to the task. I think I can do it.
Q. You said this course sets up well for your game. How so?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think I'm good at playing the par 5s. I've played the par 5s good this week. I've played them aggressive. You know, I think it's a -- it's a good iron golf course. Greens are holding. I can hit a nice, high shot in there; get them to bite. I just like the way it sets up for me.
Q. She's 6-under for the par 5s this week. No bogeys. When Tiger won his three Amateurs, there was a lot of attention, and yet you had already done it. Did you ever feel left out at that time? Or was your accomplishment in winning yours overlooked?
JULI INKSTER: Well, Tiger played at Stanford University, and that's where I practiced; and so I saw him out there a lot. You know, what he did at -- in the '90s was phenomenal. I did it back in the '80s, and you know, I still think the competition was extremely tough. But what Tiger accomplished in the '90s, winning three back-to-back-to-back, was phenomenal. And I think he really deserved the credit of what he did. It just kind of goes with women's golf. I think they always forget about the women. You know, I know no one can ever take that away from me. It's probably my biggest accomplishment in golf yet, winning three U.S. Amateurs in a row. I'm very proud of that.
Q. I know in the past you said that getting into the Hall of Fame isn't exactly the end-all for you. But I'm wondering, would a win here change your opinion of that, because it would bring you that much closer?
JULI INKSTER: I've kind of got a plan in my mind what I'm going to do as far as playing. You know, if I get in, that's great. That's awesome. If I don't get in, you know, I've had so much fun and I've met so many great people and I've -- it's not too many people that can say they really enjoy what they do, and I really enjoy what I do. I'll just walk away and say: Thanks. It's been great.
RHONDA GLENN: That's if you get into the Hall of Fame, you would do that?
JULI INKSTER: If I don't.
Q. Has anything changed at this point as far as preparation? Anybody flying in from the west coast? Your kids or husband?
JULI INKSTER: Brian is back there. He flew in last night. He went the lovely San Francisco- to-Dallas-to-Memphis, and had a nice little Memphis-to-West-Point drive this morning. He got in at about 10:30, and he's looking good.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about being a working mom? Are you home most of the time, or do the kids come out on TOUR the majority of the time?
JULI INKSTER: We work it out. That's the hardest part of my job is getting everybody where they are supposed to be. You know, I travel half the year, but I get the other half off. That's the way I look at it. Cori usually travels full-time with me. I'd say during the course of the year, there's probably three tournaments, four tournaments at the most that they don't come with me, and I usually just come out for one week or six days. You know, it's worked out good. The hardest part is Hayley is in school, and getting her out on long weekends and coming out. Brian has got a full-time job. He's the head pro at Los Altos Country Club. He can't just take off on a whim either. Hardest part is getting everybody where they are supposed to be. I'm fortunate I've got my parents close by and Brian's mom is close by. And I've got a nanny that helps me out, too. So I've got a good network of people to help me out.
RHONDA GLENN: What was the yardage on 17?
JULI INKSTER: I had a 138, and I hit 8-iron on 17. 15, I hit 4-iron, and I hit it in the right tree. That was my only really bad iron of the day.
Q. For sports writers, you are an icon. You are a notable name. A lot of people here at the tournament might not be aware of -- or might not follow women's golf as closely. How good did it feel to come up and feel, to hear the roar and the havoc?
JULI INKSTER: It feels great. I mean, walking up 8, I was just wishing it was Sunday instead of Saturday. But walking up, you know I had goose bumps. You know, it's a great feeling when people acknowledge you and your golf and your accomplishments; and, you know, I wish I could thank every one of them. It's a great feeling. It's why we play.
Q. I think you're a lock for the Hall of Fame.
JULI INKSTER: 1, I hit a pitching wedge to the green about 20 feet; made that for birdie. No. 2, I hit 3-wood in the front bunker and blasted out about four feet, and made that for birdie. No. 8, I was in the left rough and hit a great iron shot out of there. Hit 7-iron about 12 feet, and made that for birdie. No. 9, I hit two great shots just in front of the green and had a horrible chip about 15 feet past, but I made that for birdie. No. 16, I hit 8-iron 138 yards; made that for birdie four feet. 15, I had 206 yards. It was a little downwind. I thought if I could just get a 4-iron four up front, I could get it to the middle of the green. That's what I was shooting for. When I miss them, I miss them right. I just came off it a little bit, and the ball was sitting down. Ended up making par there, where I should have made birdie. 5, I had 157 yards, 156. It was a perfect 7-iron for me, and I just came over and caught it a little chunky. Hit out of the bunker about six feet and made a great putt there.
End of FastScripts....