Juli Inkster certainly has experience in the Solheim Cup, having played on eight U.S. Solheim Cup teams over the course of her career. But when she joins the rest of Team USA at Killeen Castle in Ireland next month for the 2011 Solheim Cup, Inkster will be doing something new - donning two roles at the event.
Holding the title of both a player and an assistant captain is not something that Inkster expected to be doing when she agreed to be an assistant to captain Rosie Jones following the 2009 Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms, which is located outside of Chicago in Sugar Grove, Ill.
"After Chicago, I just kind of told myself that was it, you know. I was over it," Inkster said. "I mean, that doesn't mean I was going to retire. I just was done with Solheim as far as playing."
But things have changed with Inkster finishing in the Top 10 in points qualifiers. Although the U.S. Solheim Cup team won't be officially announced until after the finish of the Safeway Classic, the top nine players in the points standings are already assured of a spot on the team and Inkster is currently 9th.
So while Inkster once thought she was done playing for Team USA, she'll now be the first assistant captain in Solheim Cup history to also play in the event.
"The more I talk to the girls and the more I talk to Rosie, they all wanted me to play," Inkster said. "So I had to kind of just wrap my brain around it and kind of say, okay, because mentally, it's tough. I have to be mentally ready to play.
"The more I thought about it, I felt like it would be a dishonor to the Solheim Cup if you make the team and you don't play. Rosie wants her best 12 players out there playing, and if I was one of the Top 10 then I felt like I should represent the United States. So I'm going to play, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to also do the assistant captain duties. So it's going to be a busy week for me, but I'm used to that."