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July 3, 2012

Juli Inkster


THE MODERATOR:テつ We are extremely pleased to welcome Juli Inkster, who not only won three U.S. Women's Amateur Championships in a row, she's a five‑time USGA champion, having won the U.S. Open.テつ And Juli, this is your 33rd Women's Open, which ties the record set by Marlene Hagge the most Opens that a champion has participated in.テつ Your first Women's Open was in 1978.テつ How do you think the women's side of the game has evolved since that time?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Well, it's evolved a great deal.テつ I played '78 as an amateur.テつ I'll never forget, it was in Indianapolis at Indianapolis Country Club.テつ And it was really my first USGA event I ever played in.テつ Could have been my first time I was out of California.
You know, the game‑‑ it's a business now.テつ Most of these girls when they're 17, 18, they don't go to college.テつ They go right from high school.テつ Or even if they are home‑schooled, they go right to the Tour.テつ AGA, junior, they play almost every week.テつ It's like a factory.テつ They just bring them out.
They're great players.テつ They have perfect swings.テつ They've had the‑‑ I guess the video machines, the physical therapists, the trainers.テつ We used to just play.テつ We would go out and say let's play.テつ And we would play all day.テつ We would play 36 holes.テつ We didn't have video machines.テつ We didn't know what our swing looks like.テつ We just knew that this is where the ball had to go, and we tried to get it to go there.
So I mean, it's changed a great deal.テつ It's world‑wide now.テつ We're very global.テつ So I think when Se Ri won here in‑‑ what was it '95?
JULI INKSTER:テつ '98, that just set Asia on fire as far as women's golf.テつ It's been non‑stop since.テつ So they're great players.テつ Even have a lot of good young Americans coming up that are playing well.テつ It's changed a lot.テつ When I was in high school, if you played a sport, you were kind of known as the jock or whatever.テつ But now when you play‑‑ I see my kids when they play sports and stuff, now they're the homecoming queen.テつ They have it all.テつ Which is great.テつ Which is the way it should be.テつ These girls want to come out there and beat you up and then put stilettos on at night and make‑up and short skirts, and you go out to dinner with them and you say, wow, did you just beat me?テつ And then you're wearing that?テつ You know?
So it's changed a lot.テつ Like everything, nothing stays the same.テつ It just evolves.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions?

Q.テつ We know how tough the course was in '98.テつ You've played it now.テつ How tough is it out there?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Well, hard to believe I don't remember a lot.テつ All I remember is the wind was really blowing.テつ They played No. 7 as a par‑4.テつ It was tough.テつ It played very tough.
The thing with this golf course, you don't really have a bailout hitting to the greens.テつ You have to get the ball in the fairway to give you a little room for the fairways, but from then on, you have to hit some good, tight iron shots.テつ I think the course is going to play tough.テつ And if the wind picks up, I think it's going to play tougher.

Q.テつ Just talking also about '98, do you play the course any differently than you did 14 years ago?テつ Are you hitting the same clubs that you remember?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Well, one, I don't have my yardage book, so I don't know.テつ They've lengthened the golf course.テつ I hope I play longer than I did in '98.テつ I think it was just a couple of days.テつ So that's my goal.
You know, it's a tough golf course.テつ Everybody knew it coming in.テつ When everybody said Blackwolf Run, I always said that's the toughest golf course I ever played.テつ And it was.テつ With the wind blowing, the greens were firm, the rough was up, it was just‑‑ it was tough.テつ The greens are a little more susceptible now because we got a little rain.テつ They're rolling great.テつ I don't think the rough is up as much as it was in '98, but it's still tough.

Q.テつ How do you feel about having that distinction of having played so many U.S. Opens?テつ And what is it about the Open that keeps you coming back some might say subject yourself to this test?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Well, I think the U.S. Open is the ultimate golf tournament, and it's a test not only of your physical skills but your mental skills.テつ So, you know, as far as me, it's a tournament of the year.テつ I had elbow surgery in January, and I really worked hard to get back to try to be able to play the Open.テつ So that was my goal.
THE MODERATOR:テつ How do you feel about now tying that record?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Well, I feel great.テつ It's just longevity.テつ I play because I love the game, and I think a lot of it is because I did start late playing golf.テつ And I was never really pressured into playing golf.テつ I just played golf because I loved it.テつ 30 years later I still love it.テつ That's why I play.

Q.テつ Juli, can you talk about the oddity of the first hole, with the elevated green and the blind shot that you need to get in there?
JULI INKSTER:テつ First hole is ‑‑ you know, you just want to ‑‑ I hit 3‑wood off the tee, and then yesterday I hit 8‑iron in and today I hit 6‑iron in because it was totally into the wind.テつ It's a tough shot, because you don't want to be long and you don't want to be right.テつ And the green is very undulated.テつ It's a good starting hole.テつ It's not tight off the tee, which gives you a little leeway.テつ Then you have to be ready to go after that.

Q.テつ You talked about maybe you didn't feel as much pressure when you were younger.テつ You've got a player now like Yani who is 23, has already won five majors, and yet seems to be under a lot of pressure.テつ She feels like she's not playing well.テつ Do you think that's maybe a difficulty some of the younger players have as they're facing more pressure when they're younger?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Totally.テつ Yani, she takes her golf game personally.テつ She wants to succeed.テつ She wants to be the best.テつ But that's the case with the social media these days.テつ I mean, when I won my U.S. Amateurs back in '80, I think people found out the next week.テつ By Pony Express, I think it was.テつ So nowadays top players they are scrutinized for everything.テつ Whether that's right or wrong, it's just the way it is.テつ Yani is young, and I think sometimes it's hard to take.テつ But she's a great player.テつ She cares about the LPGA.テつ She wants to do things right.テつ Her bad game is still probably 90% better than most of the girls out here.テつ So she's going to be just fine.テつ She's got to just go out there and relax and play her game.

Q.テつ How is the elbow?テつ And how is your form?
JULI INKSTER:テつ The elbow is good.テつ I've kind of picked up a lot of the repetitions.テつ I've been hitting them a lot more.テつ So it's a little more tired at night.テつ But it feels good.
The form is a little rusty, but I mean, it's a lot different playing golf at home with the buddies where if you hit a bad shot, you just drop another one and go on.
Competition, getting in the competitive mode is a little rusty, but I feel good.テつ That's half of it.

Q.テつ You're known as a pretty competitive player.テつ After having to take some time off for the elbow, are you chomping at the bit to get back out here?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Yeah.テつ I mean, I've been very lucky.テつ It's my first‑ever injury.テつ I think it was the unknown that kind of got to me, because I really didn't know what to expect or how the rehab was going.テつ But I had a great physical therapist in San Francisco at Active Care.テつ She kind of put me through what we're doing and how we're doing it, and she was right on.テつ So I was very fortunate.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Did you have any fear of that surgery, as a great athlete?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Yeah.テつ It's the unknown.テつ I knew I had a torn tendon, but I didn't know how much it was torn.テつ I didn't know if they were going to have to reattach it, which they did.テつ And then I didn't really know how my strength or durability would come back after that.テつ And I'm still learning that.テつ So I love to hit balls and I love to practice.テつ So I've kind of had to back a little off of that.テつ But being home, Brian and I, we didn't kill each other.テつ We're still married.テつ So it worked.

Q.テつ Going back to Yani, she's going after a career Grand Slam if she wins this week.テつ You won two back in '94.テつ Then you went a long time without winning the next two.テつ Did you have added pressure after you won those first two?テつ Did you make it a goal to win the career Grand Slam?
JULI INKSTER:テつ Golf is such an individual game.テつ You put more pressure on yourself than you need to.テつ I'm sure Yani is feeling that.テつ She feels like her game is not where it should be, and she is the No. 1 player.テつ Why aren't I playing well?テつ Golf is just‑‑ it's just‑‑ it's not like that.テつ If you put 20 hours in, that doesn't mean you're going to be 20 times better.テつ A lot of it is between your head and a lot of it is believing in yourself.テつ When things are going great, I mean, it's like you'll never play bad.テつ As soon as things‑‑ doubt creeps into your mind, then things get a little tougher.テつ It's easy when you're up here and you're playing and playing and playing, good, good, good.テつ And then when you start to fall a little bit, it's really hard to start climbing that ladder again.
Everybody does it differently.テつ I had really two careers.テつ I had before kids I did pretty good, then I had kids and I did bad.テつ After I had kids it took me four, five ‑‑ climbing the ladder, getting back, getting my confidence back.テつ The thing is with these kids being so young, playing so well so early, all of a sudden they're 23, 24, and I'm not saying this about Yani.テつ I'm just saying this about golfers, is they've never really struggled.テつ They don't really know how to climb that ladder again.テつ That's the hard part.

Q.テつ When did you start thinking about a career Grand Slam?
JULI INKSTER:テつ I never really‑‑ I'm really bad at knowing how many tournaments I've won or Majors or where I won it or how much.テつ I just play and they add up at the end.テつ That's all I do.
THE MODERATOR:テつ I was looking at your stats for the Women's Open.テつ In 1999 in Mississippi you averaged 27.75 putts per round, and then at Prairie Dunes you averaged 26.25 putts per round.テつ And that was so much better than your other average putting rounds throughout the years in the Women's Open.
JULI INKSTER:テつ Yeah, I mean, at the Open you have to putt good.テつ You're going to have a lot of 6, 10, 12‑footers for par.テつ That's just the way the Open is set up.テつ I don't really remember Mississippi, because I thought I hit the ball pretty good in Mississippi.テつ But Prairie Dunes I made everything.
THE MODERATOR:テつ And chipped in a few times.
JULI INKSTER:テつ Yeah.テつ I have to admit, I mean, I was not the best ball‑striker, but I was the best putter.テつ Putting makes up for a lot of mistakes.テつ My game is not pretty, but I'm a grinder.テつ And I just grinded it out.テつ In the USGA that's what you have to do.テつ You just have to grind it out.
THE MODERATOR:テつ I guess my question is how are you putting now?
JULI INKSTER:テつ I'm putting good.テつ I went to the belly putter.テつ I'm putting good.

Q.テつ How tough are these greens?
JULI INKSTER:テつ They're tough.テつ They're sneaky fast.テつ You feel like it's the speed you want it and it gets there and then it just keeps rolling.テつ Especially if you're going up and then over, it's really tough to judge the speed.テつ So you're going to have a lot of 4, 5, 6‑footers for par.テつ The winner of this tournament is going to make those.

Q.テつ Juli, Se Ri Pak opened the door here.テつ Could you just speak to the phenomenon that followed after that?テつ It must have been unexpected.
JULI INKSTER:テつ Yeah.テつ It's been amazing.テつ I played a lot with Ayako Okamoto who was from Japan.テつ She was the first Asian‑born person to come over here and play full time.テつ She had a lot of success.テつ So we had a lot of Japanese golfers come over and play.テつ And then Se Ri came, and again was probably one of the first Korean‑born to play.テつ And then it just kind of took off.
It's amazing when we go over there and play how many girl Korean golfers, South Korean golfers there are.テつ I played with a 13‑year‑old in the Korean U.S. Open, or Korean Open, whatever it is.テつ She blew it by me by 40.テつ I'm like how old are you?テつ She goes 13.テつ I'm like, oh, my God!
It's different from the States.テつ When I was raising my kids, I had them in ballet, dance, music, sports, they were in everything.テつ Over there if you play golf, you play golf.テつ That's what you do.テつ And you do it all day.テつ And whether that's right or wrong or indifferent, or whatever, that's just the way they are brought up.テつ Technically they are brought up very sound.テつ They just go to the driving range and they hit balls.テつ And they hit balls and they hit balls.テつ And their swings are perfect.テつ They're just great golfers.テつ That's what they do.
THE MODERATOR:テつ And your husband Brian is caddying for you this week.テつ You've had quite good success with that in the past.
JULI INKSTER:テつ Yeah.テつ You get what you pay for.テつ We might be a few over the greens.テつ Coming back I really didn't know what I wanted to do caddie‑wise or whatever, and so he said he would caddie.テつ So we just went for it.テつ We'll see.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thanks so much for joining us.
JULI INKSTER:テつ Thanks for having me.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Good luck this week.

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