Four-time Legends Tour champion and LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster was just named America's Solheim Cup team captain for an unprecedented 3rd time. Here's what she had to say during the press conference.
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. We'll get started.
JULI INKSTER: Thanks for coming on and talking with us. I'm really excited to be the captain for 2019. It's kind of surreal, I didn't really think I would have a chance, but here I am and I'm super jacked. I loved going over to Scotland, I love playing golf over there at Gleneagles, it's going to be amazing. Plus the guys have played there, I think it will be a good foundation for us for the LPGA and the European Tour. Looking forward to work being side by side with Beany, Catriona Matthew, she's always been an amazing Solheim Cup player, but also amazing golfer and a friend, so I think it will be exciting to work with her as we move forward to Scotland. If you guys have any questions, I'm your girl.
Q. What motivated you to do this a third time? It requires a lot of effort and energy on your part, so what motivated you to want to do this three times in a row?
JULI INKSTER: Well, it was to me a no-brainer, I love doing it. I love being around the girls, I love the camaraderie, it's a lot of work, but it's fun. When you can come together and all of a sudden the week's there and everything comes together the way it should and the ladies are ready to play, it to me was a nobrainer. The last two years have been really the best part of my golfing career and I've been pretty lucky to have some nice memories. So it's been fun.
Q. When you were first asked in the wake of the last Solheim Cup about whether you wanted to do it again, your only reservation seemed to be whether you might be stepping in someone else's way in the next in line. How did you reconcile that before accepting this?
JULI INKSTER: Well that's a good question and I didn't. They have a Committee that works on picking the next Solheim Cup and I kind of put my two cents in and everybody thought it would be great for the LPGA and great for the Solheim Cup if I continued. And you probably have, the next in line would probably be Cristie Kerr or Paula Creamer or even Pat Hurst probably deserves a chance to do it and they just thought that, overseas and playing in Scotland and we
have a good thing going right now, that why change it. And I said, I said, I would love to do it, but I don't want to step on anybody's toes. I said, you know, this is it, I'm going to do it one more time and then I'm going to step aside and watch somebody else do it.
Q. Also, when you first started in this role you said you didn't know if you would be a good captain. Looking at it now, what have you learned about yourself and what has enabled you to be so successful as the captain?
JULI INKSTER: Well I think I didn't. No one really knows if people are going to follow. I just tried to be myself, tried to be up front, tried to let everybody know where they stand. I feel like I'm pretty approachable and I don't have all the answers and if I don't have all the answer, I really look to my team for guidance. So I think it's more of a team win than my win. I mean,
they're the ones that are putting their face out there, they're the face of the Solheim Cup, I'm just in the background trying to make sure everybody has fun and plays loose. I know I played my best golf when I didn't really worry about winning or losing, I just went out there and played. And that's what I tried to get my team to do.
Q. When you started this, for the journey, what did you think would be your greatest or your best attribute as a captain and did that prove to be true or did you discover something else?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I really think I learned a lot about myself to trust my instincts and trust my gut and really trust my heart, what I think is the right thing to do. I learned a lot, I really learned a lot in Germany, because it didn't really look like we were going to win, but that Sunday I was really proud of the way I handled things and the way the team came together and handled things. And I learned that, under adversity and stuff, you just stick to who you are. That's all you can do. And that's really what I've done the last couple years is just stick to who I am and I don't try to be anybody different.
Q. When you say the way you handled things, what did you handle?
JULI INKSTER: Well, just the whole controversy and just the whole team thing. I didn't really ever say, you know, let's go out and beat these guys now, you know, come on. I just said, hey, this is what it is, this is what we need to do, just go out there and win your point. If everybody wins their point, we're going to win this thing. And they just went out and played their golf
game and I was really proud that they didn't let other things bother them, they just played golf and that's what I tried to get them to do.
Q. To clarify, as a past captain, were you on the Solheim Selection Committee, so were you in the room and if so, who asked you to do this and what were the mechanics of you being asked?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I was in the room, it was a little awkward, I kind of jumped off the call. I mean, the way it kind of all started, I really didn't even think I really had a chance of being the captain, and when we jumped on the call, a couple of them thought I should be the captain again. And then they started talking about me when I'm on the call and I thought, this is kind of
awkward, so I said, hey, I'm jumping off the call, I gave you my two cents, what I think, and just let me know if you want me back on the call or which way you're going. So that's kind of how it happened.
Q. And who called you back?
JULI INKSTER: Mike Whan called me back.
Q. One follow-up. You got a Hall of Fame career and really a legendary career. Where does this rank now being a third time Solheim Cup captain?
JULI INKSTER: Oh, it's at the top. I mean they're all -- I mean every Solheim captaincy that I've played in has been at the top. I wouldn't trade it for anything. And I've been fortunate to do some good things in golf, but being part of this team and being part of the Solheim Cup and representing the USA and what it means to women's golf both the European side and the LPGA side, I think you saw it in Des Moines, how well those guys played, and I would love to keep bringing that to our fans and to the new fans.
Q. I just wanted to ask, the media asked you immediately after winning in Iowa if you would do
this for a third time. Did the players do the same? Did you have players ask you in Iowa to come back already or maybe in the weeks after?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, but I really think even the players, I mean no one's ever, male or female done it three times. I mean it wasn't written anywhere that you can't do it, but it was just kind of public knowledge that no one gets to do it three times. So they asked, but I just didn't think it was possible. But it is possible. And I'm really looking forward to it and I hope the ladies are
too. We're going to have a great ride and I can't wait to get to Scotland, I love that area.
Q. You had lunch pail and the hard hats. Do you have a theme picked out already?
JULI INKSTER: No, not yet. I mean, it takes months and months of preparation to do something like that, so.
Yeah, no, I haven't. But we'll think of something.
Q. One of the things that you have done consistently is you've gone with, for lack of a better
word, the pod system, where you've got the players grouped together based on their personalities. You and Paul Azinger work together at Fox now. How often do you guys talk about that and what do you say?
JULI INKSTER: Oh, I have picked his brain a lot. He's been very forthcoming and stuff. But the last couple of times -- I'm still go with it, because I just think it's great to put people in small groups, they know who they're playing with, there's no mystery. But I talked to him a lot, especially at the start. And then he always asks me when I get done with the Solheim, what worked, what didn't work, and so we do chat about that. But I did pick his brain pretty much for 2015.
Q. And what had you refined or changed from the system that he put in place in 2008?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think you can do a lot on personalities, but you also have to have game. You got to have a type of game and if you don't have a type of game -- like last year, Angel Yin and Lizette Salas. I mean, Lizette is used to playing out of the fairway and
Angel, she can hit anywhere, but it's a long way. And Lizette said, I'm not sure I can play with Angel. But they went out and played a practice round together and they fell in love with each other. Now they do everything together. And they're like Fric and Frac. But it really came down to them not being afraid to hit it out of the rough or not being afraid to play from the fairway and their personalities actually took over from their golf game. But it started out about golf, about
being worried of hitting it out of the rough and stuff. But they played great together and that's kind of what -- I want them to get to know each other and get to know what type of people they are. I think the personality thing really helps out.
Q. I'm not suggesting that Europe's going to get a punching bag with your face on it, but I would be curious if kind of the aura that you created with these last two wins that a Juli Inkster-led Solheim Cup team would motivated Europe more than someone else.
JULI INKSTER: Probably, but you know what, they're pretty motivated anyway. The bottom line is it's golf, it comes down to just golf and who plays the best that week. Golf is 50 percent of it, but I think the other part is just as important, the other 50 percent is about being together and being a team and making memories. And I'm sure, believe me, they're motivated to put a pie in my face. That's fine, I'll be the punching bag. I had two brothers, so I can take it. But I think my team will be motivated to win too. So it's what it's about, it's about competition and it's about just going out there and playing the best you can play and bringing more fans to LPGA golf.
Q. Just following up on the question about the Committee. When was that call, approximately?
JULI INKSTER: Oh, it was like December 18th, 17th, 18th. Something like that.
Q. You said Mike called you back. Was that like the same day or when was that?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, it was the same day.
Q. And did he offer, when he called back, was the offer immediately made?
JULI INKSTER: Oh, yeah. You know, the thing is what I said is, to the Committee, I mean, I wanted a hundred percent everybody on board and they were all on board. Because you need the backing of your Committee going through this journey. They were all for it. I think it's good for women's golf, I think it's good that there isn't a precedent on only having two terms.
Right now we have a good thing going. There's no guarantee we're going to win, that's golf, I mean it's just who plays the best. But I think it's good for women's golf to maybe jump out and be a leader in something like this.