PHOENIX – Greg Johnston noticed something odd about Juli Inkster’s golf bag when he picked it up in his return as her caddie this week.
She has no sponsorships.
None on her bag, none on her shirt or cap, either.
Inkster has an American flag on her bag. She is wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this week.
A Hall of Famer with 31 LPGA victories, seven of them major championships, is getting no corporate support despite a high profile as the American Solheim Cup captain and despite still being active as a player.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Johnston said after Inkster played a pro-am round Wednesday at the Founders Cup. “What else does a woman have to do?”
It doesn’t make any sense to Inkster, either.
“I feel like I’m still relevant, but nobody seems to really mind,” Inkster said. “I’m great with people. I bring good P.R. for women, for girls coming up. I work just as hard as any of those guys out there. I put in just as many hours.”
Inkster, 57, says this issue radiates beyond her interests.
“It isn’t just me, and it’s not just golf,” Inkster said. “Look at the WNBA, women’s soccer, the women’s ice hockey team, which was amazing to watch this year. It’s not like I’m a feminist, but I am trying to change the culture.”
Johnston was Inkster’s caddie from 1994 to 2006, and they’re reuniting this week.
“Juli has been like a sister to me, but it isn’t like we are out here together just because we’re friends,” Johnston said. “We’re out here to have some success.”
As the American Solheim Cup captain, Inkster feels a responsibility beyond herself, a responsibility to represent the interests of other female golfers and athletes. It motivates her to speak up more than she might have in the past.