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Memorial Tournament honoree Juli Inkster reflects on LPGA career

Memorial Tournament honoree Juli Inkster reflects on LPGA career

Memorial Tournament honoree Juli Inkster sees what men on the PGA Tour go through when their significant others are pregnant. Stressing over what having kids might do to their careers. Worrying about the baby’s arrival means having to withdraw from a tournament. Complaining about rising for early tee times after getting only three hours of sleep.

Inkster observes it all – the wondering, whining and whimpering – and here is her takeaway: Cry me a river.

You want stress? You want sleep deprivation? You want career risk? Try being the one who births the baby, then takes only six weeks off before teeing it up again on the LPGA Tour. Try winning tournaments as a mother, you poor Mr. Professional Golfer. Then we can talk.

“The wives are actually having the kids and having to take six or seven months off. Guys take the week off and come back as heroes because their wife had to give birth,” Inkster said last week before traveling to Muirfield Village Golf Club, where she will be celebrated Wednesday as one of two player honorees. (Tom Weiskopf is being honored posthumously.)

Inkster, a queen of sarcasm, is not taking shots at male golfers so much as wanting everyone to know how hard it was, and is, for LPGA players to juggle motherhood and life on tour. So hard, in fact, that the 63-year-old Californian who won 31 tour events, including seven major championships, said that successfully balancing the roles of super mom and championship golfer is the crown jewel of her 29-year career.

“Winning the U.S. Open would be my No. 1 highlight,” she said. “It’s our national championship. Winning three U.S. Amateurs in a row (1980-82) is pretty good. Solheim Cup captain three times. Awesome. Winning the Bobby Jones Award is pretty impressive. But my most impressive (accomplishment) is traveling the tour with two kids and winning tournaments.”


Inkster’s incredible career – she is the only woman to win two majors in each of three different decades and one of only seven to have completed the LPGA grand slam – reminds me of the line about Ginger Rogers being able to do everything her dance partner, Fred Astaire did. Except she did it backward and in high heels.

“When I had kids, we didn’t have maternity leave and daycare,” Inkster said. “So six weeks after I had Hayley (in 1990) I was out playing. It was hard adjusting from being a single person to all the sudden having a kid and bringing all the stuff with you to every tournament,…


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