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Inkster's Cup career as a player ends with a 'great ride'
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff

Julie Inkster fell behind early Sunday, then rallied to help the USA Team win the Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Julie Inkster, here teeing off on the first hole at the final round of the Solheim Cup, said she hopes to captain the USA team some day.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

Juli Inkster celebrates her win on the 16th hole at the final round of the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove. She used three straight birdies on the back nine to even her match against Gwladys Nocera.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

Paula Creamer, left, and Julie Inkster celebrate on the 15th green as Inkster mounted her comeback against her European opponent, Gwladys Nocera.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Julie Inkster and her caddie celebrate on the 15th gree after another birdie putt fell for the 49-year-old golfer.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/23/2009 7:16 PM

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When Beth Daniel used one of her two captain's picks to select Juli Inkster to the 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup team, a few eyebrows were raised.

After all, the 49-year-old professional golfer had been struggling mightily on the LPGA Tour with no top 10 finishes and a pair of missed cuts in 14 tournaments. Her earnings were only around $170,000, and she had accumulated nowhere near enough Solheim Cup points to be in the hunt.

Then, after Daniel decided to play the oldest player in Cup history twice on opening day, even more brows went up.

Inkster, however, went 1-1 in her Friday matches. And in Sunday's singles play, with everything on the line thanks to a tough-as-nails European team, she showed she still had more in her by rallying late from 2 down to halve her match against undefeated Gwladys Nocera of France. Inkster's effort helped the U.S. sweep to a 16-12 victory and keep its record at home unblemished.

It was a perfect way to cap the weekend, and an even better way to cap her Solheim career.

"It is (the end)," she said from the side of the 18th green, her voice quivering. "I want to come out and watch.

"These girls are great. They've got a lot of young talent and it needs to be passed down right now."

And perhaps two years from now when the Solheim Cup is contested in Ireland, perhaps the woman making the U.S. captain's picks will be the one who wrapped up her Cup career with 8 appearances and a 16-10-5 record.

"I would love to be a captain someday," she said. "I'd love to be able to pick out the uniforms and the hair ribbons and the stuff like that. That's my forte," she said with a smile.

But late Sunday evening, the only thing on Inkster's mind was celebrating her final Solheim Cup win with a wild group of teammates whose gyrations on the fairways and greens this week to pump up the crowd prompted Inkster to bust a few moves of her own during her stretch run against Nocera.

"I had a great time," Inkster said. "It's been a great ride."