Keeping the secret was the hardest part. Within hours of the U.S. Solheim Cup team’s record-setting comeback, Juli Inkster started fielding questions about being captain again in 2017. Was she interested? Would she do it?
Of course, she was. And the Solheim Cup selection committee, which consisted of Commissioner Mike Whan, LPGA President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Roberta Bowman, Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon wanted Inkster back as well. The committee met shortly after the matches in Germany and made the request official.
“I’ve been sitting on (the news that she will captain the American squad in 2017) for maybe a little over a month,” Inkster said during a packed-house announcement in Des Moines on Friday with two members of her 2015 team, Gerina Piller and Brittany Lang, by her side. “Of course I jumped at that opportunity. It just kind of came to fruition and it’s been hard sitting on it because I’ve had so many people ask me would I do it again, are you doing it again, what are they doing, and it’s just really frustrating not to be able to tell anybody. That’s why we decided to do it quickly.”
Inkster becomes the fourth American captain to lead in back-to-back matches and the first since Patty Sheehan in 2002 and 2003 (the only time the Solheim Cup has been contested in consecutive years – because of 9/11 – and the rescheduling of the Ryder Cup). The European team has also had four repeat captains, the last being Alison Nicholas in 2009 and 2011.
Inkster referred to this repeat performance as one of the biggest thrills of her life.
“The whole experience from the time I was named as Solheim Cup (captain the first time) and having the players be there in Phoenix, to picking out the uniforms and making the selections for the team, which was the hardest thing I ever had to do, it was all a really great experience.”
And Des Moines Golf and Country Club is bound to be a great venue. The city hosted the 1998 U.S. Senior Open and set attendance records that still stand.
“We’re going to beat that (record),” Inkster said. “It’s going to be huge. I can feel the vibe here. It’s going to be an amazing event. The ladies are going to be surprised at how many people are going to be out there watching and supporting this, so I think this is a great venue for it.
“We do really well in these communities, and I’ll do everything I can to get it going.”