Juli Inkster is the first American to be Solheim Cup captain three times. Now she’d like the distinction of being the first American captain with three victories.
“Right now, we have a good thing going,” Inkster said.
She was announced Tuesday as U.S. captain for the 2019 matches in Scotland, where the Americans will try to match the longest winning streak in a Solheim Cup they have largely dominated since it began in 1990.
Kathy Whitworth (1990, 1992), Judy Rankin (1996, 1998) and Patty Sheehan (2002-03) previously were captains two consecutive times. Rankin’s teams never lost.
Inkster, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame two years before winning her seventh major, was part of the selection committee that last month discussed who should be the next captain. That’s when her name was raised as a possibility.
“I really didn’t even think I had a chance of being captain,” she said. “And when we jumped on the call, a couple of them thought I should be the captain again. And then they started talking about me when I’m on the call and I thought, ‘This is kind of awkward.’”
She put in her thoughts and signed off the call, asking the committee to let her know when she should return to the discussions. The next call came from LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, who told her she was the choice for captain.
The 57-year-old Inkster said in a news release that she was “stoked” and on a conference call that she was “super jacked.” Inkster has two daughters, one of whom was older than four of her players on the 2017 team that won in Iowa.
But she connects, bringing a mixture of fun and a blue-collar approach to the matches. Her 2015 team, which played in Germany, produced the largest comeback in Solheim Cup history, and her most recent team delivered the Americans’ largest winning margin in two decades.
Europe previously selected Catriona Matthew of Scotland as its captain. The Americans have a 10-5 advantage since the matches began in 1990.
“I had a feeling it was going to be Juli again,” Matthew said. “Winning the last two, it was tough not to go for her again. The players have lots of respect for her. She’s got them a winning formula. But winning ways always have to come to an end.”
The 2019 matches will be Sept. 13-15 on the Centenary course at Gleneagles, where Europe won the Ryder Cup in 2014.
Mickey Walker was the European captain the first four times in the Solheim Cup. In other team competitions, Tony Jacklin was Ryder Cup captain four straight times for Europe, while Jack Nicklaus was a four-time U.S. captain in the Presidents Cup.
“It was to me a no-brainer,” Inkster said about the offer to captain again. “I love doing it. I love being around the girls. I love the camaraderie. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun. … The last two years have been really the best part of my golfing career, and I’ve been pretty lucky to have some nice memories.”
Matthew, meanwhile, said Europe has changed its qualifying criteria. For the 2019 matches, five players will come from the world rankings, three players from their performance on the Ladies European Tour and four players will be picked by the captain. Also, players must take part in a minimum of eight LET events.