Juli Inkster provides invaluable veteran leadership - COPIED

By Randall MellAugust 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Normally, kids dont like to see their moms cry.
But when Juli Inkster wept during her speech during a U.S. Solheim Cup dinner Tuesday night, her adopted children loved it.
Inksters 11 teammates were as moved as she was.
She had a half dozen of us crying, Christina Kim said. She talked about how this was the best damn team shes been around, how this team has so much heart and how it embodies what the Solheim Cups about. She started crying, and Ive never seen Juli Inkster cry before.
Juli Inkster
Juli Inkster has a 6-1 singles record in the Solheim Cup. (Getty Images)
American captain Beth Daniel said she worried about this teams chemistry. She wondered whether the fiercely individualistic natures of these players would prevent them from understanding what it means to be a team. Boy, she said Wednesday, was she wrong.
Its been unbelievable, Daniel said. Its beyond all my expectations.
Inksters amalgamating presence is a big part of that.
Shes got so much belief in us, Kim said. Its as if weve got a third parent with us, and shes for all of us. Its pretty inspirational, just knowing that she believes in us.
At 49, with her heart committed to what might be her final Solheim Cup, Inkster s devotion to the event and her teammates works like a bonding agent.
Inksters leadership skills were large among reasons Daniel named her as a captains pick. Inkster won three majors before Solheim Cup rookie Michelle Wie was even born. Inkster has a daughter Wies age entering her sophomore year at Loyola Marymount. Still, Inkster s competitive nature wants more. Its been a tough year, her first without a top-10 finish since she joined the LPGA in 1983, but shes eager to mix it up with the kids and win some points this week.
I never feel old, but these girls make me feel young, Inkster said.
Throw out Inkster , and the average age of the American team is 26.
She keeps joking that shes staying in the adults room and we all have to stay in the kids room, said Morgan Pressel , 21, making her second Solheim Cup appearance.
This might be Inkster s last Solheim Cup team, but she isnt ready to say so yet.
I get asked that all the time, but well see, she said. Well take it one year at a time.
Team chemistry may be overrated, but not in the eyes of Daniel, who has played in eight Solheim Cups and served as an assistant captain in another.
Golf is such an individual sport that its very difficult sometimes to get into a team mentality, Daniel said. I stressed to all of them, it takes 12 players.
And unless I have all 12 on board, were not going to win this.
A Hall of Famer, Inkster knows how to win whether shes playing for herself or as part of a team. Her 31 LPGA titles, seven of them major championships, is testament to her abilities. So is her 6-1 singles record in the Solheim Cup. Shes 14-8-5 overall. If she wins just a half point this week, she will be the all-time leader in points scored by an American. She shares the mark with Meg Mallon at 16 points.
Daniel liked the way her team responded to Inkster s speech at the team dinner.
She also liked what she saw when the team flew back from the Ricoh Womens British Open for its first practice together after the team was officially named.
Daniel said she left the team quarters at Rich Harvest Farms the morning after their arrival to make a television appearance at 5:30 a.m.
It was still dark, it was foggy, Daniel said. And who walks out of her room onto the practice putting green with her putter and golf balls but Juli Inkster.
Daniel said Paula Creamer, Kristy McPherson, Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel followed Inkster out the door to the putting green.
You can't be a better leader than that, Daniel said. And they've been putting at night. Five of them have been putting like every night, and you know they're following Juli's lead. To them, this is why she's a Hall of Famer, because she practices like this. So it's a great learning experience for all of them, too.
Watch exclusive GolfChannel.com LIVE streaming coverage of Day 1 of the Solheim Cup, Friday from 2 pm- 4 pm ET.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
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  • Meet the U.S. Solheim Cup team
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    API purse payout: What Rory, Tiger, field made

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and collected one of the biggest non-major paychecks of the year. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Bay Hill.

    1 Rory McIlroy -18 $1,602,000
    2 Bryson DeChambeau -15 $961,200
    3 Justin Rose -14 $605,200
    4 Henrik Stenson -13 $427,200
    T5 Tiger Woods -10 $356,000
    T5 Ryan Moore -10 $320,400
    T7 Marc Leishman -8 $249,992
    T7 Kevin Chappell -8 $249,992
    T7 Luke List -8 $249,992
    T7 Sean O'Hair -8 $249,992
    T7 Patrick Rodgers -8 $249,992
    T7 Patrick Reed -8 $249,992
    13 Chris Kirk -7 $186,900
    T14 Kyle Stanley -6 $137,950
    T14 Charles Howell III -6 $137,950
    T14 Sam Horsfield -6 $137,950
    T14 Bud Cauley -6 $137,950
    T14 Grayson Murray -6 $137,950
    T14 Byeong Hun An -6 $137,950
    T14 Rickie Fowler -6 $137,950
    T14 Charley Hoffman -6 $137,950
    T22 Brian Gay -5 $89,000
    T22 Harris English -5 $89,000
    T22 Jason Day -5 $89,000
    T22 Graeme McDowell -5 $89,000
    T26 Tom Hoge -4 $59,319
    T26 Martin Laird -4 $59,319
    T26 Emiliano Grillo -4 $59,319
    T26 Tommy Fleetwood -4 $59,319
    T26 Francesco Molinari -4 $59,319
    T26 Keegan Bradley -4 $59,319
    T26 Zach Johnson -4 $59,319
    T26 William McGirt -4 $59,319
    T26 John Huh -4 $59,319
    T26 Talor Gooch -4 $59,319
    T36 Alex Noren -3 $41,919
    T36 Kevin Na -3 $41,919
    T36 Brandon Harkins -3 $41,919
    T36 Brian Stuard -3 $41,919
    T36 Austin Cook -3 $41,919
    T41 Ian Poulter -2 $30,305
    T41 C.T. Pan -2 $30,305
    T41 Adam Scott -2 $30,305
    T41 Aaron Wise -2 $30,305
    T41 Kevin Streelman -2 $30,305
    T41 J.B. Holmes -2 $30,305
    T41 Jamie Lovemark -2 $30,305
    T41 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $30,305
    T49 Lucas Glover -1 $21,965
    T49 Ernie Els -1 $21,965
    T49 Hideki Matsuyama -1 $21,965
    T49 Chesson Hadley -1 $21,965
    T49 Sam Burns -1 $21,965
    T54 Li HaoTong E $20,470
    T54 Mackenzie Hughes E $20,470
    T54 Brian Harman E $20,470
    T54 Billy Horschel E $20,114
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    After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

    Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

    On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

    Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

    After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

    Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

    A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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    Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

    At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

    “The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

    Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

    Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

    “Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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    Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

    PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

    Laura Davies won the day.

    It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

    Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

    Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

    For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 19th LPGA title.

    In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

    “I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

    At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

    “It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

    Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

    “It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

    With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

    “People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

    “Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

    She also relished showing certain fans something.

    “Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

    Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

    In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

    Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

    “The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

    After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

    “I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

    Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

    In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

    “I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

    And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.