Juli Inkster turned 52 in late June, but even as the senior member of the LPGA and coming off elbow surgery, Inkster hasn’t considered anything other than the Evian Masters, the next tournament next week in France.
“After [the Evian] I’m just going to see how my elbow feels, see how my body feels, my mind, see where my game’s at and then re-evaluate,” Inkster said three weeks ago before the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
The World Golf Hall of Famer and 31-time LPGA winner made her debut in a professional event 34 years ago this week at the U.S. Women’s Open in Indianapolis as an 18-year-old amateur and recent high school graduate. That began a career which currently totals 543 LPGA starts, nearly $12 million in earnings, 31 career wins and seven major championships.
Inkster suffered a torn tendon in her right elbow and required reattachment of the tendon and repair of the ulnar nerve earlier this year – her first significant career injury. Inkster said her elbow began bothering her at the end of the 2010 season when she was fighting tendinitis. She stayed away from golf at the end of the 2011 season but still needed surgery when the injury persisted. Inkster, in her 30th season as an LPGA member, has played a full schedule every year except for 1990 and 1994 when her daughters were born.
She underwent right elbow surgery on Jan. 27. The time off coincided with older daughter Hayley’s graduation from San Jose State (mom’s alma mater also) and younger daughter Cori’s high school graduation and on to college at Villanova. Inkster returned to action in late June at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open, both missed cuts, with one change in her game, a conversion to the belly putter. It was her 33rd Women’s Open start, tied for first in starts all time with Marlene Hagge.
She plans on playing in the Evian Masters next week in France as the final testing of her injury. Last year at the Evian Masters, she was named the Evian Ambassador of the Year and received the Media Appreciation award.