At 49 Juli Inkster has passion to play

By Doug FergusonAugust 4, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupJuli Inkster doesnt believe everything she reads, even if shes the one who said it.
Perhaps the most significant of her seven majors was the U.S. Womens Open in 1999, the biggest event in her sport and one that eluded her for a decade. Inkster was 39, the mother of two young girls, and ready to split time coaching fifth-grade basketball, baking brownies and dabbling on the LPGA Tour.
Juli Inkster Solheim Cup
Juli Inkster poses for a portrait following her Solheim Cup selection to the U.S. team. (Getty Images)
My goal right now is to play on the Solheim Cup in 2000, she said after the Open win. After that I just really foresee myself playing 10 to 12 tournaments a year. Im going to have a first-grader and a fifth-grader, and its just getting harder and harder to take them out.
The quote was read to Inkster as she was getting off a plane Monday in Chicago, where she was headed out to Rich Harvest Farms with the rest of the American team for a practice session. At 49, she will be the oldest player in Solheim Cup history.
This is a very good opportunity for something to be reiterated, Inkster said, trying to stifle her laughter. Dont believe everything you read. You cant believe that just because I said it. I dont know what Im doing.
She knows exactly what shes doing. She just doesnt know how to stop, if she even wants to.
Inkster doesnt need a birth certificate to realize how long she has been grinding at golf. She doesnt even need to be reminded what she said 10 years ago about the alleged twilight of her career.
All she has to do is look around her to see who else is dressed in red, white and blue.
U.S. captain Beth Daniel used one of her picks on Inkster, the other on 19-year-old Michelle Wie. Inkster had already won three majors and was pregnant with her first daughter when Wie was born in Hawaii. Also on the team is 20-year-old Morgan Pressel and 23-year-old Paula Creamer.
Inkster has a daughter starting her sophomore year at Loyola Marymount.
The thing is, 1999 doesnt seem that long ago, Inkster said. When I first started, I thought I would play three or four years and Id be out of here quick. And here I am, 49, still playing. But you know what? I like what I do. So I do it. I guess I could stay home and drive my kids and my husband crazy, but we all work at it together.
If there was a crossroads, it came in the months after her first child, Hayley, was born. Inkster was trying to combine being a mother with being a professional golfer, and neither was going particularly well.
I was not doing very good at the golf thing, I didnt think I was doing any good at the Mommy thing, and I always (stunk) at the wife thing, she said. I felt like I wasnt doing anything great. That offseason, I started working with Mike McGetrick. I said, If Im doing to do this, theres got to be some type of plan to get me on the right track.
It took until Hayley was 2 when I realized that as long as shes with me, it doesnt matter.
Cori came along four years later, and by then, Inkster realized her kids were doing just fine. She earned her way back to the Solheim Cup in 1998, where she delivered one of her biggest moments (followed by one of her many awful dance celebrations).
Inkster and Meg Mallon were 1 up when Liselotte Neumann hit a spectacular shot from a deep, front bunker to about a foot from the hole in the back right of the green. Inkster had a 40-foot putt to halve the hole. Her 8-year-old daughter was watching.
Late in the day on Saturday, I had Hayley in the cart with me, said Judy Rankin, the U.S. captain at Muirfield Village. We pulled up on top of the hill to get a good look at the green on No. 17. Juli made a bomb'whenever you see her dancing in those highlights, that was the putt'and it was sheer pandemonium. There were probably 25,000 people watching this one match.
Walking off the 18th green after a 2-and-1 victory, Hayley said to her mother, Now I know why you do what you do.
Rankin, who has been a part of the LPGA Tour for nearly 50 years, has rarely seen another player as competitive in womens golf.
Inkster completed the career Grand Slam in 1999, was inducted into the Hall of Fame a year later, and won her final major in 2002 when she overcame a two-shot deficit against Annika Sorenstam with a 66 in the final round at Prairie Dunes.
She has had to make sacrifices to achieve greatness, but not her family.
She couldnt tell you who was the president of the United States, but she knows where her kids are at all times, Dottie Pepper said. Shes a super mom.
The focus shifts to golf Aug. 21-23 at the Solheim Cup, her eighth appearance, and possibly the most difficult. Inkster brings experience to a U.S. team that has three rookies and four players who have played only one Solheim Cup.
I hope they brought me on this team to play some golf, she said.
That part has been a struggle. Inkster has yet to finish in the top 10 this year, which would be a first since joining the LPGA Tour in 1984. She tried too hard to make the team on her own, and part of her summer was consumed with being on the LPGA board of directors, which forced out commissioner Carolyn Bivens.
How much longer can she play?
Lets worry about this one, Inkster said, and then well talk about it.
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    Ko (68) off to best start of year at Kia Classic

    By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 12:39 am

    Lydia Ko didn’t take long to put last week’s missed cut behind her Thursday at the Kia Classic.

    She got off to her best start of the year.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko was tied for seventh, just two shots off the lead, with the afternoon wave off at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif.

    “I would say I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key,” Ko said.

    Ko scrambled her way to her low opening round of the year in light rain. She hit just seven of 14 fairways and 11 greens, but only needed 25 putts.

    “This is a pretty tough golf course,” Ko said. ”I think putting is a huge key around this course, where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.”

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Aviara’s poa annua greens have been known to give players fits, but Ko had her flatstick working. After making the turn at 1 over, she made five birdies on her second nine.

    Ko, 20, won at Aviara two years ago but missed the cut there last year.

    “I love Carlsbad,” Ko said “I would say it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s nice to come back to a place where you’ve played well and love the area.”

    Ko, seeking her first victory since July of 2016, has her new coach, Ted Oh, working with her in Carlsbad this week. Oh made the trip to Asia last month, helping Ko to her tie for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. But, she missed the cut in Phoenix last week in her next start.

    “All I can do is try my best,” Ko said. “Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this good momentum going.”

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    Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 2

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 12:32 am

    Here is how things played out on Day 2 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Click here for Day 1 match results:

    Group 1: Adam Hadwin (38) def. Dustin Johnson (1), 4 and 3: After a dominating performance at last year’s Match Play, where he never trailed in any match, Johnson is already mathematically eliminated. He got routed on Thursday by Hadwin, after the Canadian built a 2-up lead at the turn and then poured it on with wins on the 11th and 13th holes.

    Group 1: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Bernd Wiesberger (52), 5 and 4: Kisner made three consecutive birdies midway through the front nine to set the tone, then kept the pressure on Wiesberger, who knocked off DJ on Wednesday, to earn the full point and stay in the mix to advance.

    Group 2: Justin Thomas (2) def. Patton Kizzire (48), 3 and 1: After DJ’s early exit, Thomas now has a clear path to world No. 1, if he can win the Match Play this week. Thomas did his part, improving to 2-0 after taking a 3-up advantage and then making birdie on 16 and 17 to close out Kizzire. That sets up a winner-take-all match against Francesco Molinari on Friday.

    Group 2: Francesco Molinari (21) def. Luke List (60), 3 and 2: Molinari dropped seven birdies on List and won the 13th, 14th and 16th holes to move to 2-0 this week.

    Group 3: Chez Reavie (43) def. Jon Rahm, 1 up: On the verge of surrendering a big lead against Rahm, Reavie’s par on 18 was enough to secure a 1-up victory. He led 3 up with three to go, but Rahm birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to send the match to the last. But there, from just short of the green, Rahm hit his pitch shot well past the flag and couldn’t make birdie. Now 0-1-1, Rahm, last year's finalist, is now eliminated.

    Group 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Keegan Bradley (63), 1 up: Bradley once again kicked away a late lead. One day after coughing up a 2-up lead with three to play, he squandered a 1-up lead with three to play against Aphibarnrat. Bradley made bogey on 17, then was stymied behind a tree after his drive on 18. Barnrat rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to improve to 2-0.

    Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4) def. Haotong Li (34), 4 and 2: Spieth held up his end of the deal, winning the fifth hole with a birdie and never trailing from there. He poured it on late with the Chinese star, winning the 13th, 14th and 16th holes. He'll play Reed, his Ryder and Presidents Cup partner, on Friday in a winner-take-all match.

    Group 4: Patrick Reed (19) def. Charl Schwartzel (49), 1 up: In a wild match that saw that only three halved, Reed hung on to defeat Schwartzel, 1 up. Two up with three holes to play, Reed lost the 16th, escaped with a bogey halve on the 17th and then was out of position on the final hole. But he nearly holed his wedge shot, rattling the stick and leaving his ball on the front edge for a conceded birdie and narrow victory.

    Group 5: Cameron Smith (46) def. Hideki Matsuyama (5), 1 up: One down with five to play, Smith won the 14th with a par, then chipped in for birdie on 16 to take a 1-up lead. At 2-0, he’s now in control of the group.

    Group 5: Patrick Cantlay (30) def. Yusaku Miyazato (53), 1 up: In control throughout, Cantlay bogeyed the 17th hole to return the match to all square. On the home hole, he busted a drive to the front-left corner of the green, then made birdie to win and improve to 1-1.

    Group 6: Rory McIlroy (6) def. Jhonattan Vegas (44), 2 and 1: Needing a victory to avoid an early exit, McIlroy won two consecutive holes before the turn and then added a win on 13 to give himself the cushion he needed down the stretch, holing a 6-footer for par on 17 to close out Vegas. McIlroy now has a chance to advance with a victory over Harman on the final day of pool play.

    Group 6: Brian Harman (18) def. Peter Uihlein (57), 4 and 2: Harman never trailed in knocking off Uihlein, who soundly defeated McIlroy on Day 1. With 1 ½ points, Harman is in the driver’s seat, but he needs at least a halve against McIlroy on Friday (and a Uihlein loss) to advance.

    Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7) def. Dylan Frittelli (41), 2 up: All square with six holes to go, Garcia birdied 13, won 14 with a par and then drove the 18th green for a conceded birdie to close out Frittelli, the former Texas Longhorn, and improve to 2-0 this week. He'll play Schauffele in a winner-take-all match on Friday.

    Group 7: Xander Schauffele (20) def. Shubhankar Sharma (62), 3 and 1: Schauffele improved to 2-0 this week by thoroughly handling Sharma, the darling of the recent WGC-Mexico event, never leading by fewer than 2-up on the back nine and playing 3 under.

    Group 8: Jason Dufner (42) def. Jason Day (8), 3 and 1: Dufner took down one of the pre-tournament favorites with a steady closing stretch. Five of his six wins came after Day bogeys, but Dufner turned an all-square match on 14 tee into a 3-and-1 victory.

    Group 8: James Hahn (56) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 3 and 1: Hahn jumped all over the South African, winning the first three holes and never holding less than a 2-up lead on the back nine. With his victory, each player in the group has a 1-1 record.

    Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9) def. Kevin Chappell (33), 7 and 6: Avenging an opening-day loss, the Englishman won the first four holes and needed to make only three birdies in a monster rout of Chappell. The 2017 Presidents Cupper made five bogeys and conceded two other holes but still has a chance to win the group.  

    Group 9: Ian Poulter (58) def. Daniel Berger (26), 2 and 1: Playing this event for the first time since 2015, Poulter improved to 2-0 on the week with a solid victory over Berger, one of many young American up-and-comers. Using the same putter that he put in play at the epic 2012 Ryder Cup, Poulter won three of the first four holes and never backed down. He is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday. 

    Group 10: Paul Casey (10) def. Kyle Stanley (45), 4 and 2: A winner at the Valspar, Casey stayed hot in Austin, taking a 3-up lead at the turn and improving to 2-0 this week. He needs only a halve on Friday to advance.

    Group 10: Russell Henley (51) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick (31), 2 and 1: Shaking off a narrow loss to Casey on Wednesday, Henley took control of an all-square match by winning the 12th and 14th holes and then rolling in a tricky 25-footer on the 17th green to put away Fitzpatrick. Still alive in pool play, Henley needs to beat Kyle Stanley, and hope Casey loses, to force a playoff.

    Group 11: Bubba Watson (35) def. Marc Leishman (11), 3 and 2: Coming off an impressive opening victory, Watson erased an early deficit, then won Nos. 12-14 to put away Leishman, who is now eliminated. Watson is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday.

    Group 11: Branden Grace (23) def. Julian Suri (64), 2 and 1: After a shaky start, Grace made four birdies over his last 11 holes to knock off the surprise Day 1 winner, Suri, who was the last man into the field. Watson is still in control of the group heading into the final day.

    Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12) def. Brendan Steele (36), 3 and 2: All square through 12 holes, the Englishman made four birdies and an eagle over his last eight holes to improve to 2-0 this week. Hatton needs only a halve Friday to advance.

    Group 12: Alexander Levy (55) def. Charley Hoffman (22), 1 up: Levy led from the sixth hole, but Hoffman slowly cut into the deficit and took the Frenchman to the final hole. Levy’s par was enough to notch his first point and stay alive in pool play.  

    Group 13: Alex Noren (13) def. Thomas Pieters (39), 5 and 4: Noren made quick work of Pieters in what could be a match of future Ryder Cup teammates. Noren built a 4-up lead after seven holes and then cruised from there, moving to 2-0 this week and eliminating Pieters. In 30 holes this week, Noren has made 12 birdies and no bogeys.

    Group 13: Tony Finau (29) def. Kevin Na (61), 3 and 2: In a contrast of styles, the powerful Finau birdied the first three holes and never looked back against Na, setting up a battle of unbeatens in a winner-take-all match on Friday.

    Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14) def. Satoshi Kodaira (40), 1 up: Four down through seven holes, Mickelson was on the verge of being eliminated before running off a series of wins, including on 16 and 17 to push the match to the final hole. Then, on 18, he pitched to 8 feet and drained the birdie putt to complete the remarkable comeback.

    Group 14: Charles Howell III (59) def. Rafa Cabrera Bello (17), 3 and 1: After knocking off Mickelson on Day 1, Howell pulled away from Cabrera Bello late, winning the 14th, 15th and 17th holes – only one of which with birdies – to take control of the lead. At 2-0, Howell is assured of at least a playoff.

    Group 15: Webb Simpson (37) def. Pat Perez (15), 3 and 1: Matched up against the fiery Perez, Simpson seized control of the match with wins on the 11th and 12th holes, sank a 20-footer on 15 and then won the 17th after Perez put his tee shot in the hazard. Now 1-0-1, he’ll have a winner-take-all match against Kim on Friday.

    Group 15: Si Woo Kim (50) def. Gary Woodland (24), 5 and 3: Kim won the first hole and never looked back, grabbing a 3-up lead at the turn and leading by as much as 5 up after 12 holes. He is now 2-0. 

    Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16) def. Yuta Ikeda (47), 1 up: Though he wasn’t nearly as hot as in his opener against Johnson, Kuchar played solidly, going 3 under (including concessions) and making par on 17 to edge ahead of Ikeda and eke out a narrow victory. 

    Group 16: Ross Fisher (27) def. Zach Johnson (54), 2 up: After a remarkable comeback against Kuchar to earn a halve on Day 1, Johnson couldn’t summon the same magic on Thursday. Though he won the 15th to cut Fisher’s advantage to 1 up, Johnson couldn’t convert birdie putts on the last three holes.

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    Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 12:20 am

    Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

    Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
    (1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0 (2) J. Thomas: 2-0-0 (3) J. Rahm: 0-1-1 (4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0
    (32) K. Kisner: 1-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 2-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat: 2-0-0 (19) P. Reed: 2-0-0
    (38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
    (48) P. Kizzire: 0-2-0 (43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0 (34) H. Li: 0-2-0
    (52) B. Wiesberger: 1-1-0
    (60) L. List: 0-2-0 (63) K. Bradley: 0-1-1 (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0
    Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
    (5) H. Matsuyama: 1-1-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 1-1-0 (7) S. Garcia: 2-0-0 (8) J. Day: 1-1-0
    (30) P. Cantlay: 1-1-0
    (18) B. Harman: 1-0-1 (20) X. Schauffele: 2-0-0 (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-1-0
    (46) C. Smith: 2-0-0 (44) J. Vegas: 0-1-1 (41) D. Frittelli: 0-2-0 (42) J. Dufner: 1-1-0
    (53) Y. Miyazato: 0-2-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 1-1-0 (62) S. Sharma: 0-2-0 (56) J. Hahn: 1-1-0
    Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
    (9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0 (10) P. Casey: 2-0-0 (11) M. Leishman: 0-2-0 (12) T. Hatton: 2-0-0
    (26) D. Berger: 0-2-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-2-0 (23) B. Grace: 1-1-0 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0
    (33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0 (45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0 (35) B. Watson: 2-0-0 (36) B. Steele: 1-1-0
    (58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0 (51) R. Henley: 1-1-0 (64) J. Suri: 1-1-0 (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
    Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
    (13) A. Noren: 2-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-1-1 (16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1
    (29) T. Finau: 2-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0 (24) G. Woodland: 0-1-1 (27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0
    (39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0 (40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0 (37) W. Simpson: 1-0-1 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0
    (61) K. Na: 0-2-0 (59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 1-0-1 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1
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    Players lament 'meaningless' Friday WGC matches

    By Rex HoggardMarch 23, 2018, 12:17 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – The drawback of round-robin play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is that 20 players will tee off on Friday with no chance to advance to the knockout stages.

    Although those who haven’t won or halved a match heading into the final day of pool play can still improve their finish, which means more FedExCup points and earnings, they can’t make it to the weekend, which for many makes it somewhat meaningless.

    “Knowing that you are playing a match that you might get 2 more FedEx points and $20,000 or whatever it is. It's tough. It's hard,” said Rory McIlroy, who is 1-1-0 and can advance to the weekend if he wins his match on Friday against Brian Harman.

    “You try to go out with the mindset that I'm going to maybe try things or if you are working on your golf swing, it's a good round to take advantage of trying different things,” McIlroy said. “[But] there's going to be guys going out there tomorrow that would really just want to be on a plane tonight going home.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Even more curious, there will be players with no way of moving on who will dictate who does make it to the weekend. Matthew Fitzpatrick, for example, is winless this week and will play Paul Casey on Friday. If Fitzpatrick wins it will set up a playoff scenario between Casey, who is 2-0-0, and either Russell Henley or Kyle Thompson, who both have one victory, to decide who advances out of the pod.

    “It's not technically meaningless,” Casey said. “But it's frustrating when you know you can't possibly win the golf event. None of us turn up here to gain some points. It's to try and win an event.”