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Breezy Point

Local Golf
August 22, 2017

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Juli Inkster after winning oneo of her 3 consecutive Women's U.S. Open's.
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Juli Inkster after winning oneo of her 3 consecutive Women's U.S. Open's.
By R.J. Smiley

Juli Inkster, the personable Captain of Team USA in the 2017 Solheim Cup, was eager to answer all questions during a recent interview with Tee Times. Her quote, "I never get too up or too down, I just go with the flow," seemed to describe perfectly this mega star's approach to the Solheim Cup.

Tee Times: As a repeat Captain of the USA Team, does the job seem to be easier... or harder the second time around?
Juli Inkster: I played on nine Solheim Cup Teams, each Team was a different experience. I have found that the same is true with my experience as Captain. I am Team Captain again, but everything is different. We are playing on American soil. Several of the players will be new to the Solheim Cup experience. It appears that the Team will be younger than the 2015 Team. The bonding experience will take time and be unique to this team. So to answer your question directly, it will not be harder or easier. It will just be a new and different experience.

TT: Please give our readers an idea who Juli Inkster is off the golf course?
JI: Golf is what I do. Not who I am. I have a husband and two well adjusted daughters who traveled with me while playing golf for a living. But, I was always mom first.

TT: Where did you grow? When did you start playing golf?
JI: My family moved to Santa Cruz when I was young. Our home was on the 14th fairway of Pasatiempo Golf Club. When I was young I was always competing with my two older brothers. I hated to lose! I played basketball and other sports, but when I was 15 got hooked on golf. I worked on the golf course at various jobs but I really worked hard at golf. I made the boys high school golf team the following year.

TT: You were a three time All-American at San Jose State and won the U.S. Women's Amateur three years in a row. How did that early success help you win 31 times on the LPGA Tour including your seven Majors?
JI: Early on I learned to just roll with things. Don't stress out too much. Playing competitive golf there is a lot of time between shots, I just learned to stay within myself. I was not the best player. But most of the time I was the best grinder.

TT: Looking at your professional record, it seems that you always play well in the Majors. Do you have an explanation?
JI: I grew up playing a hard golf course. Most Majors are played on very hard golf courses. Pasatiempo was very hard with severe greens. I learned that on any hole par is a good score. In Majors, I was always happy with par and go to the next hole.

TT: You were a player on nine Solheim Cup Teams dating back to 1992. In those years you were 6-1-2 in Singles. Did that match play experience winning 18 straight matches in the U.S. Women's Amateur help in those Solheim Cup matches?
JI: Match play is a different animal. 18 holes is a lot of holes. A lot of strange things happen. Living through all those matches so young just taught me to not get too up or too down.

TT: Your record in Foursomes and Fourball were not as good as Singles. Is there a reason for that?
JI: My record in those formats was not horrible, it just seems that we got beat sometimes. Playing with a partner there is a lot more pressure. You don't want to let you partner down. Foursomes are definitely the most difficult format, but it is also my favorite. When your team gets on a roll it is great fun.

TT: Your final year as a player you were also a Vice Captain. How did that work out?
JI: It was just - too much! I felt I was never in sync. I could not define my roll on the Team. For me, I would never do it again.

TT: Is there any hidden drama with you and Annika. Is there a personal rivalry?
JI: No! No hidden agendas. She is one of the best golfers, man or woman, that ever lived. Her record as a player proves that. We are very different personalities. Annika is very organized. She deals in statistics and numbers. I am not a very organized person. I just like to go with the flow.

TT: You mentioned earlier that each Team is unique. Each Solheim Cup is different. It appears that you will have several first time players on this year's Team. What will be your approach with them?
JI: I don't really have a plan for the new girls. As we get to know each other better, things will fall into place. Players will bond and draw what they need from each other. We have spent some quality time together both on and off the golf course. We are becoming a team!

TT: I know that you have spent a considerable amount of time at Des Moines Golf & Country Club. What are your thoughts on the golf course?
JI: The golf course is a really big golf course with very tough greens. When the greens get up to Solheim Cup speed, putting will be very tough.

TT: When you say big golf course, what exactly do you mean?
JI: The golf course will be playing very long, but it has wide fairways. The longer hitters will be able to play short irons into these tough greens giving them better opportunities for birdies.

TT: With Team USA loaded with bombers; do you feel that the course gives your Team an advantage?
JI: The European Team is loaded with bombers also. There is really no advantage.

TT: Paula Creamer is a crowd favorite. You have mentioned how much you enjoy being partnered with her. Is there a chance that she might qualify as a Captain's pick?
JI: My job is to put the 12 best players on the golf course. When I was chosen to be Team Captain for the second time, I told the girls, "Don't put this on me. Go out there and earn those points and qualify." With that said, I am sure that Paula would love to be selected to be a part of the 2017 Team. But she would also understand that my job is to select the 12 best at this time.

TT: Danielle Kang recently won her first Major and appears to have a lock on the Team. Do you think that Danielle could become the Patrick Reed of the Solheim Cup?
JI: Danielle is a great player. I have been on her for four years to go out and make it happen. She proved in the KPMG PGA Championship that she could finish. I want to see 12 Patrick Reed's on our Team, but Danielle Kang has the game to be an important part.

"All the girls on both Teams want to win. They all want to play great, but most of all they want to have fun and turn the worlds spotlight on women's golf!" concluded Inkster.

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