Juli Inkster won her first US Women’s Open at the age of 39, 17 years after winning her third US Women’s Amateur championship. Tenacity may be at the top of the list of qualities to respect in the 61-year-old LPGA Hall of Famer.
Inkster, a true do-it-all super parent who returned to the tour six weeks after giving birth to daughter Hayley, is one of the most admired players in the game, male or female. Inkster is the only woman to win the US Women’s Open while also being a mother.
The USGA named Inkster the winner of the Bob Jones Award, which honors an individual who exemplifies the excellent character traits demonstrated by Jones, a nine-time USGA champion whose integrity and passion are regarded as the gold standard in golf. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Wright, Nancy Lopez, President George H.W. Bush, and Se Ri Pak are among the past recipients of the prestigious prize.
Inkster will be honored by the USGA during a Bob Jones Award event near The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, during U.S. Open Championship week this June.
“My father is a tremendous Bobby Jones fan, and he isn’t doing well right now,” Inkster, a five-time USGA champion, said. “Being able to tell him I won the prize was absolutely incredible.” So, you know, you go through life with a lot of ups and downs, and I know I accomplished a lot in my work.
“Inkster began playing at the age of 15 and has competed in 43 USGA championships over the course of five decades.” On the LPGA, she won 31 times, including seven majors. Inkster is the only American to have served as captain of the United States three times, and he has won more Solheim Cup matches than any other American (9). Inkster is an inspiration to generations of athletes because of her hard work ethic, sportsmanship, leadership, and unique dance skills.
“In every way, Juli represents the genuine nature of this award,” stated Mike Whan, USGA CEO. “Because Juli is in the game, it’s a better game.” Her great playing career has garnered her praise, but more importantly, her mentorship of other players has had a huge impact on so many people. We are fortunate to have Mary as a member of the USGA family, and we are honored to present her with this outstanding award.”
The Juli Inkster Senior Award, granted yearly by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association to the top-ranked female college golfer who has completed her fourth year of eligibility, is named after Inkster, who won 17 titles at San Jose State and is still one of college golf’s biggest supporters.
“We’re aiming to keep the students in for all four years,” Inkster added. “I mentor (the winner) for two days, and they receive two tournament exemptions.” Workday provides them with around $35,000 to begin their career, so it’s obviously worthwhile, and we’re aiming to grow it a little bit more each time.
“The friendships extend to competitions, as Inkster continues to compete on the LPGA and in senior events on a part-time basis. She intends to make her LPGA debut at the JTBC Classic at Aviara in Carlsbad, California, in 2022. Cori, Inkster’s youngest daughter, recently moved to San Diego, and she joked that she would be living in fancy housing.
On the LPGA, Inkster is a mentor to a lot of people, but notably young moms.
Hayley was sleeping in closets, restrooms, and other dark places, according to Inkster. “I’m on vacation with my parents, and I’m not sure I was playing good golf, being a good mom, being a good wife, or whatever, but I did it, and I think it strengthened me.”
“I know it made me a better mother, so I believe once you achieve that, you feel like you can do anything,” she says.
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