DALY CITY, Calif. – Juli Inkster continues to be the ageless wonder of the women’s game.
Yani Tseng couldn’t help shaking her head as she played alongside Inkster Thursday at the Swinging Skirts, watching Inkster climb the leaderboard with shot making that belies her 54 years on the planet.
Impressed at how fit Inkster is, how hard she is working to keep her body strong and limber, Tseng couldn’t resist teasing the mother of a daughter almost as old as Yani.
“I told Juli, 'You’re making your pants look sexy today,'” Tseng cracked. “I know Juli’s working out hard, and she looks so fit. It’s crazy. She’s hitting it longer than I’ve seen her. She’s very inspiring.”
With a 4-under-par 68, Inkster trails world No. 1 Lydia Ko – who turns 18 on Friday – at Lake Merced Golf Club. She's tied for second with Ha Na Jang and P.K. Kongraphan. Inkster is nine years older than Jang (22) and Kongraphan (23) combined.
Inkster actually has two daughters. There’s Hayley, 25, and Cori, 21. She was asked what it’s like to be outplaying fellow competitors young enough to be her daughters.
“Out here, that’s a seasoned veteran,” Inkster cracked.
Inkster is the U.S. Solheim Cup captain, an honor that usually comes long after a player’s competitive days have faded. While the last of Inkster’s 31 LPGA titles came in 2006, she sounded very much like a woman who believes she could have a chance come Sunday.
“It would be amazing,” Inkster said. “It would be the feat of the year.”
Feat of the year? Inkster’s being modest. It would make her the oldest winner of an LPGA or PGA Tour event. Sam Snead was 52 years, 10 months and 8 days old when he won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965. Beth Daniel was 46 years, 8 months and 29 days old when she won the Canadian Women’s Open in 2003.
Inkster must feel as if she has more than two daughters this week. She is practically a sorority mom playing host to four players. With her home in Los Altos just 30 miles south of Lake Merced, Inkster is hosting Gerina Piller, Dori Carter, Kristy McPherson and Kendall Dye.
“We’ve been having fun and cooking in,” Inkster said.
Inkster can cook. She whipped a batch of chicken stir fry Wednesday night.
“From scratch,” Inkster said.
Inkster hasn’t won in nine years and she hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish in four years, but she’s working hard on her game. There are signs of rejuvenation. She opened with a 69 at the ANA Inspiration three weeks ago to get on the leaderboard early in the year’s first major championship. She has been working of late with former PGA Tour player Jeff Brehaut.
“I know how hard she works, not only on her golf game, but in the gym, working out,” said Ralph Scarinzi, Inkster’s caddie. “So this doesn’t surprise me, that she can perform at this level at her age.”
Inkster would love to surprise the rest of the golf world come Sunday.
“Who knows?” Inkster said. “Fifty-four holes is a lot of golf out there.”