Juli Inkster provides invaluable veteran leadership

By Randall MellAugust 19, 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:
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  • Meet the U.S. Solheim Cup team
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    Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

    Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

    By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

    Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

    The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

    LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

    "The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

    It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

    "He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."