June 4, 1999
WEST POINT, MISSISSIPPI
RHONDA GLENN: You started out with a birdie on the 1st hole today. Steadied out a little bit and came on strong again at the end. Another great round. Tied for the lead.
JULI INKSTER: I played good today. I played, I think maybe yesterday I played maybe just a little bit better; but I played very good today. I thought I took advantage of my opportunities out there. The speed of my putts was good again today. I thought I hit my irons a little better today. I was very happy with the way I played.
RHONDA GLENN: Dottie Pepper, who has played with you a lot, I mean, your careers have sort of paralleled. You've been matched head-to-head in a lot of tournaments. She said you are a great front-runner. Would you agree?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I think I play good in the front. You know, this golf course, 10-under is not going to win this tournament. You've got to go out and play aggressive. You've got to go out and make some birdies. I think that helps me. I know that you can't go to the middle of the greens. You've got to play aggressive. You can't keep -- look at Lorie Kane. She goes out and shoots 8-under today. A lot of people behind us are capable of doing that; Dottie being one of them. You've just got to keep doing what you're doing. I like my position, but I think you're going to have to shoot some more under to win this thing.
Q. It's kind of different than most Opens, isn't it? Usually you get to Saturday and you're thinking about making par and going to the next one?
JULI INKSTER: Exactly. But I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't know about me, but I know I would rather see what I'm seeing out there this week than seeing what I saw out there last year. I mean it was a joke. Bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey; and at least we're out here. We're making some birdies. It's exciting. You've got a lot of good players up there at the leaderboard. A lot of good names. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
Q. Because of so many birdies, you come into a certain mentality where par is a good score, and now you see a lot of birdies, does it change the mentality of your game?
JULI INKSTER: During the practice round, I just thought that under par would win this thing. I didn't know how many, but I knew par would not do much. You know, I think it keeps aggressive. It's just great. I think you don't back off and play aggressive, and that helps me.
Q. The weather has been -- the weather has been such a big story this week, and everybody kind of has their own horror tales. Grace Park said she's not putting on makeup because it's running off before she hit the first tee. Have you had any kind of those things happen to you?
JULI INKSTER: It's really thrown my makeup off. (Laughter.) I've got to keep reapplying. But it's hot. I've been home for three out of four weeks in California, and we've had cool weather. And this is -- this is like running into a brick wall. And last night, I was feeling my age. I was very tired. I think you've just got to kind of pace yourself. The thing is it's slow out there, too. It took us four hours and forty minutes to play today. This golf course, it should be moving a little quicker. It's hot. But I don't mind. I'd rather play in the heat than in the cold.
Q. You said that there's nothing wrong with all the birdies that you're seeing out there on the golf course, but at what point does it become something maybe of a dilutant to the U.S. Open? At what point does it become damaging to the reputation of the U.S. Open to have somebody going to 12-, 14-, 16-under and win the National Championship?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I don't know. I think, you know, with the Open changing their venue each year, you know, I think, you know, one year you get over par and win it; and the next year you get under par and win it. You know, Pumpkin Ridge, what was Allison, 10-under? And I thought that was the most exciting tournament in a long time for the LPGA. And I thought that was a tough golf course. As long as it doesn't set a standard, I think it's okay. I don't know. Personally, I'd rather see birdies than bogeys.
Q. Kelli was saying earlier that she would like to see an American win this thing after a few years of foreign winners. Is that just youthful exuberance or just players feeling pride?
JULI INKSTER: It would be great for an American to win it. A 38-year-old American. (Laughter.) Just kidding. But you know what there's a lot of good foreign players out there that might have a different say in this. Karrie Webb being one of them. Our TOUR, every week is a world TOUR out there, and most of the foreign players are in the top players. And it would be great for an American to win.
Q. You mentioned your shots and your putts, but when you were hitting, you were hitting the tee very well. On 15, you just crushed it and that set up the chance to tie the score. Can you talk about your tee shots?
JULI INKSTER: I have been driving the ball pretty well. Yesterday, I drove it the best I had drove it in a long time. Today, I missed a couple fairways but got away with it. 15, I hit a real good drive and I had 190 to the pin, and it was a little downwind so I hit 5-iron and just hit did a little chunky. But it did set up for a birdie. And, you know, really the only bad tee shot I hit today was probably on 16 where I pulled it left. I just gave it a good putt there. That's what you've got to do in the Open. You know, when you think you're going to make bogey, you can make par and I think that helps.
Q. You said you're feeling your age, but it seems like you're catching a second wind in your career. Why is that?
JULI INKSTER: I'm just more stable with my home life now. My kids understand what their mom does. They are a lot easier to travel with. I'm not hauling around the port-a-cribs and the strollers, and they are sleeping through the night. And it's it just makes a big difference. I don't know. I know that especially during the Solheim Cup last year where they got to raise the flag with me for the United States and my nine-year-old. She's just really understood finally what it was all about. And she comes up and said,? "Mom, this is the most fun I've ever had," and that makes me feel good. It makes me feel like it's not too bad with them traveling out here with me. They still enjoy traveling. So I think I'm just more at ease with the mom-hood and the working mother.
Q. Are you saying then that maybe being a mom may have taken a little bit away from your game?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I wasn't practicing as much. I wasn't dedicated enough. I was kind of straddling the fence: Do I quit; do I play; do I quit. I just decided this is what I really love to do. I love to play golf. And if I'm going to do this, I've got to start working on my game. I started working with a guy, Michael Dendrick, in Denver and got a game plan and it's paid off. The last three years I've probably played the most consistent golf I ever have.
Q. With the children being school age, do you travel with them a lot, or is this the kind of year that you would start traveling with them, or how do you handle that?
JULI INKSTER: Cori, my five-year-old, just turned five. She usually comes with me every week. Hayley, my nine-year-old, she's been out a lot this year. I take her out for long weekends. Sometimes like they have a Friday off or they have a Monday off, and so she's -- she's been to Florida. She's been to Palm Springs. She's been to Arizona. She's been to Myrtle Beach. She's been to Atlanta. She's been to a lot of the tournaments. She missed probably 16 to 20 days a week out of the school year.
Q. How many are you without them?
JULI INKSTER: Out of the 26 tournaments I play, probably three tournaments I'm totally without them.
Q. Not too long ago, you were coming in here and were real tired, you know, with the kids and had various illnesses and lack of sleep. Did you ever think that you might not get past that? Did you know that eventually you'd get beyond that?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I had my doubts. You know, I don't like coming out here and being a mediocre player. I'm a competitor, and I like to play well, and I knew I had it in me. But having it in me and bringing it out were two different things. And I don't know, I just think my swing has improved a lot. My putting has improved a lot. My course management has improved a lot. I think I've matured, and I don't take it as seriously as I used to.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about '92, and what it would mean to win this?
JULI INKSTER: Well, '92, I had a two-shot lead going into 18 -- 17. And Patty Sheehan and I both hit our drives and we had a rain delay, about 45 minutes. Came back out and I hit 17 and 18 in regulation and Patty birdied 17 and 18; so, we had a playoff, and I just kind of came up on the short end of the stick. But I played my heart out. I would not have changed any way I played. For us to shoot 4-under at Oakmont, I think that's a true testament of how well we played. You know, I just feel like I think you've got to go into the Open thinking you've got to be playing well, one. I think the golf course has got to set up for you, two. I've got a great opportunity. But there's a lot of girls that have a great opportunity. I'm just going to play well on the weekend.
Q. The last eight months you've won three times. Yet, there's probably half a dozen players that are getting more headlines than you. Do you ever think you're the forgotten headline?
JULI INKSTER: No. I don't mind it at all. I think there's a lot of girls that are probably playing better than me. Karrie is playing well. Meg Mallon is playing great. You know, I've had my headlines. I just want to go out there and I want my fellow players to respect my game and respect me and that's all -- really all that matters to me.
RHONDA GLENN: What do you do with the children when they are out on the TOUR here? I mean, I know about the LPGA, but when you are together with your children after a hard day of playing golf, what activities do you have?
JULI INKSTER: Well, that's really when my day begins. This is the easy part, the golf. But we do -- we do a lot. We do a lot of swimming. We go to parks. We go to museums. We go to the mall. I've got two girls. My nine-year-old is just a shopaholic. She got me those little short pants now. She says, "Mommy, you've got to wear those capris." They are great. I don't know. We just usually rent a house or rent a condo or something so we can cook. You know, always have dinner at home, and we try to make it as homey as we can on the road, and I think that really helps. I can honestly say that since I've traveled with the kids, I don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel with them, because I'm pretty particular on what they eat and how they eat. So we cook at home and we have breakfast and dinner at home, and they come out and help in practice. They are into golf themselves, so they will hit balls. And the girls out here, you know, they have really taken to my family. And they are really good with them and kid them a lot and, you know, I don't have any problems bringing them in the locker room. It's been fun. It's been great.
Q. Back to the headline comment that you had, does that kind of take some of the pressure off you, like with Kelli getting out in front? Does that allow you to sneak up out of nowhere, maybe?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I don't have anything to do with the headlines. I just play golf, and if it comes, it comes. Kelli is playing great right now. She is on a roll. And Dottie is playing great. And you've just got Grace Parks; she's right in there, too. You know, the young players, they are fearless. You've got to go out there and just try to play your game and hopefully come out on top.
Q. Would you comment on your birdie on 18?
JULI INKSTER: The birdie on 18, I had 168 yards to the pin and I hit 6-iron. I wanted to hit it a little easier than I did. But it's a tough pin, because the pin is cut short, just right over the bunker. It's tough to get it to. Rolled past about 30 feet. It rolled straight downhill. It was probably the fastest putt I had all day. I didn't want to just blow it by. It was just like two balls out on the right edge. It had perfect speed, and I rolled it right in there. Those are the ones that you say: That's a bonus right there, and then move on.
Q. Did it take a little while to bounce back from that Open in '92? And that experience, does that give you any more resolve when you're close like this again?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I don't think so. There's just such different golf courses and different times in my life. That's seven years ago. You know, I just feel like I'm a better player now, and, I don't know, maybe I can handle it a little better. Who knows. I'm going to have fun trying.
Q. Does that experience give you an edge over somebody like Grace or Kelli who has not been in the position they are going to find themselves in tomorrow?
JULI INKSTER: I don't know. Those two look pretty confident to me. I don't see them backing down at all. I think they are kind of in that no-lose situation because they have never been there. They can go out there and play aggressive, and if they don't do good, they have never been there. If they do do good, it's a bonus. I think they are in a great position. Thank you.
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