The Amundi Evian Championship in France, which kicks off on Thursday, was not a big one in 2003 when it was called the Evian Masters. This award was only awarded by the LPGA Tour a full decade later, but it was still an important win for Julie Inkster, one of the best golfers of all time.
Inkster, 62, who has won 31 tournaments on the tour, including seven majors, had a great start to the week with the under-66 rating. 21 under par, setting a tournament record at the time.
She recently reflected on this triumph and her illustrious career. The following conversation has been edited and condensed.
What are your memories of this week?
I had the whole family, and of course I rented a house. I got up early on Monday and played a practice round, and on Tuesday we went river rafting.
Did you go rafting the day before the tournament?
We all went. We had the best time. Brian, my husband, fell out of the boat and my caddy had to pick him up by his vest and throw him back into the boat. It was a little scary.
What did you like about Evian?
They are [Evian Resort Golf Club in Évian-les-Bains, France] do a really good job of accommodating us. They have invested a lot of money in trying to make the golf course better. It’s on a hillside so there’s not much to do here, but in terms of beauty, scenery and entertainment, we love it there.
Have you gotten the most out of your career?
I definitely got the most out of it. I’ve never been the best at anything. I was just good at a lot of things and I was a grinder. I had almost three careers: one before the kids, one during the kids, and one when the kids were a little older and traveled with me. Between 1990 and 1995 I didn’t play very well because I had kids, but after that I really played well.
What’s your Number? 1 moment?
Probably winning the US Women’s Open. I didn’t win it until I was 38, so it took me a long time. But I won at 38 and 42. I always wanted to win, but I had problems with it. So it was a great relief to do so.
What is the current state of the LPGA Tour?
It’s great. These big corporations really support the LPGA and believe in what we do. We will be playing on these legendary golf courses that have never been played before. Wallets are getting bigger.
Were you happy to live in your time or would you like to play now?
I really enjoyed playing in my era just because we were all in college. We all played against each other in college and we all went pro. There was a lot of camaraderie there. Now it’s more of a business. They have their own coaches, parents and agents. They still do things together, but not like they used to.
Do you think you would be the best golfer with the team?
I dont know. I like doing my own thing. I don’t like it when there are a lot of people around. I did it the way I wanted.
How do you feel about the tour moving the Chevron championship out of Palm Springs next year?
I didn’t want to leave this area, but I think Chevron is going to take it to the next level. They’re going to make it worthy of a major. Golf course [at the Club at Carlton Woods] we’re going to it’s a great course. It is in a very good area of Houston.
Will you be playing in the US Women’s Open in August?
Yes. This is the one I didn’t win. I finished second twice. I would like to win it. I’m not getting any younger. I just need to experience one of those Evian moments where everything comes together. Maybe I should take up river rafting earlier.