LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster will play in her 30th U.S. Women’s Open Championship this week at Oakmont Country Club. She ranks in a tie for fifth with Patty Berg, Marilynn Smith and Beth Daniel in all-time U.S. Open appearances. Marlene Hagge holds the record with 33.
Two weeks ago Inkster thrilled the crowds in Rochester, New York, on her 50th birthday with a first-round 71 at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans. Inkster was 4-under par through the first eleven holes before suffering a streak of back-nine bogeys. Despite finishing the week in a tie for 62nd, Inkster remained one of the big stories of the week. Always a favorite with the crowds and the media, Inkster handled herself with the grace that has won her 31 LPGA victories, including 7 major championships.
Inkster returns to Oakmont Country Club, the site of her heartbreaking 1992 loss to Patty Sheehan. Inkster held a two-stroke lead with two holes to play in regulation when Sheehan birdied the 17th and 18th holes to get into the 18-hole playoff. The next day Sheehan shot 72 to Inkster’s 74 to win the championship by two.
Inkster eventually claimed her first U.S. Open title in 1999, a remarkable16 years after joining the LPGA as a rookie in 1983. She repeated the feat in 2002 with a dramatic final-round 66 to overcome fellow LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Annika Sorenstam. If Inkster wins this week at Oakmont she will become the oldest player to win a major championship.
Inkster is one of the most celebrated USGA competitors of all-time. In addition to winning two U.S. Women’s Open titles, Inkster won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship from 1980-1982, becoming the 1st player since 1934 to win three consecutive amateur titles.