The newly-inducted Hall of Famer did so in the most dramatic of fashions, birdying three of her last five holes at The Legends Club of Tennessee, including a clincher at the par-5 18th to close the door and finish at 14-under 274. It was her first win of the 2001 season and the 26th of her career.
Juli Inkster comments on shooting a Sunday 65 to win
Ive kind of struggled with my putting a little bit, Inkster explained of the fact that she has not won since last years Samsung World Championship in October. Ive been working really hard on it and trying to get a little more consistent with it, get a little more confidence back in my putting.
I hit the ball very well today.
For a while, it appeared as if the day may have belonged to Annika Sorenstam, however.
Searching for her sixth win of the season, the 30-year-old Swede grabbed the outright lead at 12-under following birdies at Nos. 12 and 13, but struggled with the flatstick down the stretch and could not generate anything but pars for the remainder of her round.
It was then that Inkster, playing just in front of Sorenstam, made consecutive birdies of her own at the 14th and 15th holes to take the lead back at minus-13.
Her birdie at the last brought her score to 14-under and forced both Sorenstam and playing partner Catriona Matthew to make eagle at the last to force a playoff.
Matthew recorded birdie ' her third consecutive ' to end at 13-under. Sorenstam could do no better than a score of par and outright third.
I was in the position I wanted to be in, said Sorenstam. This time it didnt happen. Its happened before this year, so I cant be too hard on myself.
No, she cant. In the nine events that she has started this season, Sorenstam has only finished outside the top-3 on one occasion. Five times she has won.
For Inkster, the 40-year-old Californian may be off to a fresh start for the year. With the win, she takes home $120,000 for her performance. Not only was her round of 65 the best of the day, but her personal best for the season.
Defending champion Pat Hurst had a tough time of it on Sunday, however. The third-round leader and defending champion of this event could do no better than a closing round of 74 and a finish of joint seventh at 9-under with Tracy Hanson.
Nancy Scranton carded a nice round of 67 on Sunday to finish in fourth at 11-under-par, while Jackie Gallagher-Smith and Sherri Turner each shot 69s to finish at minus-10.
Full-field scores from the Electrolux USA Championship