Inkster Now Plays Role of Mentor

By Associated PressSeptember 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Solheim CupPORTLAND, Ore. -- Juli Inkster used to sit down for team dinners at the Solheim Cup and look across the table at her friends, rivals, contemporaries.
 
Next week in Sweden at those dinners, she'll be staring at a bunch of kids.
 
New faces will dominate one of the most important events on the women's golf schedule. Inkster is a link between the generations.
 
'Sure, I miss the Rosie Jones, the Meg Mallons, the Betsy Kings, the people I played college golf with and grew up with on the tour,' said Inkster, 47, a seven-time major winner who will play in her seventh Solheim Cup. 'But it's still fun coming up with the young ones. It's just a different chapter.'
 
Americans Nicole Castrale, Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Prammanasudh and Morgan Pressel are new to the event. Natalie Gulbis and Paula Creamer will play their first Solheim Cup on foreign soil.
 
Inkster, meanwhile, is closer to the end of her career than the beginning. Ask what her plans are for the future and she interrupts the question -- it's clear she's heard it a lot lately.
 
'I'm just going to play it by ear,' Inkster said. 'I know I'm not going to play as many as this year. But I just don't know.'
 
Always one of Inkster's favorites, the Solheim Cup is a match-play event that mirrors the men's Ryder Cup in format, with 14 best-ball and alternate-shot matches played over Friday and Saturday, then 12 singles matches to decide things Sunday.
 
The event began in 1990 and the United States has a 6-3 advantage over Europe, though winning on European soil has not been easy for the Americans. It has only happened once, 10 years ago in Wales.
 
Back then, players like Dottie Pepper, Mallon and Beth Daniel made up the core of the team. Now, Pepper is a TV analyst, Daniel is the assistant captain and Mallon fell too far down the standings to make the team.
 
It compelled King, the U.S. captain, to pluck Laura Diaz from 14th off the points list so she'd have another player with experience in one of these events overseas. The tournament will take place at Halmsted Golf Club in southern Sweden.
 
King is also interested in seeing how Gulbis and Creamer, two head-turners who look as comfortable at a photo shoot as on a golf course, handle the feel of playing when the gallery isn't on their side.
 
'They're not used to people rooting against them,' King said. 'They're always the fan favorite, and I think that will be interesting to see how they react to that. I think that's what makes this a challenge.'
 
Playing in Sweden marks a homecoming for three of the European players -- Sophie Gustafson, Maria Hjorth and, of course, Annika Sorenstam.
 
This has been a difficult year for Sorenstam, whose stay at No. 1 was derailed by back and neck injuries that cost her a big chunk of the season and have threatened to keep her winless in a season for the first time since 1994, her first year on the LPGA Tour.
 
'As you know, I always play to win at every event I participate in, so winning would be great,' Sorenstam said. 'Winning in a team format like this is always special and it will be even more special winning back at home in Sweden.'
 
So far, there haven't been any reports of trash talking or bad blood that sometimes appear in the run-up to the event. In the past, they have had spats about who was supposed to putt first, who called who a 'brat' and rules disputes galore.
 
King remembers going to Bible study several years ago with Alison Nicholas, her opponent in the next day's match, but getting so angry at Nicholas over a rules dispute during the mach that the two didn't speak for a while afterward.
 
'I think there might be little incidents like that that obviously, with time, they are funny. I think that's what makes the Solheim Cup special,' King said.
 
Two years ago, it was the 19-year-old Creamer declaring the Europeans 'better get ready, because they're going to get beat.'
 
She helped back that up, going 3-1-1 in America's 15 1/2 -12 1/2 victory.
 
Inkster was in on that celebration, which certainly had a different feel than some in the past. Creamer and Gulbis are just a tad older than Inkster's high-school-aged daughters, Hayley and Cori.
 
No big deal, Inkster says. She's still looking forward to hanging with the kids this week.
 
'We've got a very young team,' 'The only way this young team gains any experience is by playing. They're our future. These girls are going to play five, six, seven Solheim Cups. It gives them a chance to get their feet wet.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • Getty Images

    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

    Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm