World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster’s is one of nine former US Women’s Open champions who will tee it up at Pinehurst No. 2 this year. Inkster’s been playing on the LPGA Tour since 1983 and the 29-year veteran is bringing 148 career top-10 finishes, 31 of those finishes flat-out victories, to the 2014 Open. Inkster’s a two-time Open Champion, having hoisted the coveted cup at the 53rd playing of the Open in 1999 at the Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi and again at the 57th playing, in 2002, at the Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchison, Kansas.
Juli Inkster’s walked a career path that was cleared by the dreams of Patty Berg and Betsy Rawls and Betty Jamison and Babe Zaharias — the training for and discipline of competition forged in an amateur career that included collegiate All-American (1979, 1981-82) at San Jose State, three consecutive US Amateur titles, Curtis Cup and World Cup team competitions.
In 1981-82 Inkster was ranked top US amateur by Golf Digest and in 1983, the year she turned pro, Golf Digest gave her a second tap, as Rookie of the Year.
A rich pro career predictably followed. Inkster nailed her first pro win in her 5th rookie year event, the 1983 SAFECO Classic. Within a year she’d won her first major, the Nabisco Dinah Shore Classic, and had been named LPGA Rookie of the Year.
By 1999, the year she won her first US Women’s Open, Inkster had played her way into the World Golf Hall of Fame with her 22nd victory at the Safeway LPGA Golf Championship, and she became the second woman in LPGA history (after Pat Bradley in 1986—Karrie Webb joined them in 2001 and Annika Sorenstam in 2003) to complete the modern day LPGA Career Grand Slam.
Inkster began the 2014 season by announcing that this would be her last year of competitive golf and this is likely to be Inkster’s final playing of the US Women’s Open. But Inkster’s not finished. With nine Solheim Cups on her resume, the LPGA recognized her as the ideal captain for the 2015 US team and tapped her almost as soon as she released her season-opening announcement. “There will be no whining on the 2015 team,” Inkster declared when she accepted the assignment.
Then, mid-way into the 2014 season, Golf Channel lured Inkster to their team and she’s started a new rookie season, providing on-course commentary at events where she’s not competing.
Enjoy the 2014 US Women’s Open, Julie Inkster!