U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster had extra incentive when she entered this week’s Legends Championship. She wanted to squeeze in a tournament with her own sticks before heading to Germany to guide her young charges in the 14th biennial team match-play event between Europe and the United States in mid-September.
And with her win today on The Legends Tour, Inkster wanted to send a clear message to the players on her 2015 U.S. Solheim Cup team.
“If a 55-year old can win, they can win, too,” said California’s Inkster, who won her first tournament on The Legends Tour at this week’s major championship with scores of 71-68 for a 5-under total of 139.
“This was my third event on this tour and I’m still playing a little on the LPGA Tour,” Inkster added. “I love playing with these gals. I grew up playing with them, so it’s not as much stress, it’s pretty low key and it makes golf fun.”
Inkster wasn’t battling Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park this week at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, but she still had to beat some formidable foes she has faced for two decades. England’s Trish Johnson and Laura Davies shared the lead with Inkster at the start of today’s final round.
By day’s end, however, Davies lost momentum with a score of one-over 73 and dropped into a tie for seventh at even-par 144. Inkster and Johnson went head to head as they had in many Solheim Cup matches and even more tournaments on the LPGA Tour.
With Inkster playing in the pairing ahead of Johnson, the two fought to the finish for the tournament title. Inkster birdied the 17th hole to move to four under and then drained an eight-foot birdie on No. 18 to take the lead at five under.
Johnson also birdied the 17th, but her second shot on the par-5 finishing hole found a front bunker. With rain starting to fall, Johnson left her bunker shot 25 feet from the hole for a chance to birdie and tie Inkster, forcing a playoff.
By the time Johnson walked onto the green, she not only faced a tricky putt, but a downpour of heavy rain, as well. Johnson missed the birdie attempt and a short putt for par, finishing with a score of 2-under 70. Her bogey dropped her into solo second place at 3-under 141.
“I tried to stay patient and that’s when I started hitting it better,” said Inkster, who plans to play in the LPGA’s final major, The Evian Championship, in two weeks.
“With my [TV commentating] job at Fox, the Solheim Cup and playing in tournaments, it’s been a lot of work, but I like to keep busy,” Inkster added. “It was good to get the win.”
Pat Hurst of California also made a run at The Legends Championship presented by Old National Bank. Hurst eagled No. 18 by hitting the green in two shots and draining a 10-foot putt on the par-5 hole.
Hurst (69) tied for third with Canada’s Lorie Kane (70) at 2-under 142.
Danielle Ammaccapane (70) of California and Jean Bartholomew (70) of New York tied for fifth at 1-under 143.
Australia’s Jan Stephenson won the Super Legends Division, topping seven other contestants in the division for players 63-over.
Stephenson posted rounds of 73-71 to finish at even-par 144. Judy Dickinson of Florida was runner-up at 8-over 152.
“Winning never gets old,” said Stephenson, who interned with the course’s designer, Pete Dye, years ago. “This was a really special one.”
For complete scores, visit: http://leaderboard.thelegendstour.com/?TID=61.