After leading Team USA to back-to-back Solheim Cup victories in 2015 and 2017, LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster will return as captain for the biennial team match-play competition in 2019.
The 31-time LPGA Tour winner and seven-time major champion will become the first three-time Team USA captain at The 2019 Solheim Cup to be played on the world-famous PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland, from Sept. 13-15, 2019. The U.S. will head to Scotland leading Europe 10-5 all-time in Solheim Cup competition.
“This is an unbelievable honour and one I do not take lightly,” Inkster said. “I’m so stoked to be able to take the U.S. Team to Scotland, the home of golf, to compete in the 2019 Solheim Cup. We can’t wait to get started.”
Inkster, 57, and the U.S. squad will look to successfully defend their title on European soil, pitted against hometown legend and first-time Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew.
The last time the Solheim Cup was held in Europe, in 2015 in St. Leon-Rot, Germany, Inkster led the U.S. Team to the largest comeback win in Solheim Cup history. The Americans trailed by four points entering Sunday’s singles matches before staging a comeback for the ages, winning 8.5 points en route to a 14.5-13.5 victory.
In West Des Moines, Iowa, in 2017, Inkster became the first two-time U.S. Solheim Cup captain since Patty Sheehan was at the helm in 2002 and 2003. With Team USA’s 16.5-11.5 victory, she joined Judy Rankin as the only captains in Solheim Cup history (Team USA or Team Europe) with a 2-0-0 record. Inkster is the first three-time captain for Team USA, while Team Europe played under Captain Mickey Walker in the first four Solheim Cups (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996).
“Juli being the U.S. Solheim Cup captain for a third time is certainly historic, but almost everything about Juli’s career is historic,” LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said. “She has set the standard on the LPGA Tour in so many ways, and now she’ll do the same for the U.S. Solheim Cup Team. Under Juli’s unique style of leadership, the U.S. Team is relaxed, cohesive and incredibly successful. Maintaining this highly successful formula, and continuing Team USA’s momentum, was the first priority among the U.S. Solheim Cup Committee.”
Inkster joined the LPGA in 1983 and played as a rookie in 1984, earning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors after winning two major championships, becoming the first rookie to accomplish the feat. Inkster made her Solheim Cup debut as a captain’s pick at the second playing of the event in 1992 at Dalmahoy Country Club in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she went 1-1-1, winning her singles match against future European captain Alison Nicholas.
Inkster went on to represent the U.S. in nine Solheim Cups from 1992-2011 (1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011) with a 15-12-7 overall record, and was a member of victorious teams in 1998, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Despite playing in six of the same Solheim Cups, Inkster and Matthew only met in competition twice, both times in foursomes on the opening day of competition. In 2003, Matthew and Janice Moodie defeated Inkster and Wendy Ward, 5 and 3, but Inkster evened the score in 2009 by partnering with Paula Creamer to defeat Matthew and Moodie, 2 and 1.
“Congratulations to Juli on this announcement. She’s done an amazing job in the last two Solheim Cups, and throughout her Solheim career, and will certainly be a formidable opponent at Gleneagles,” Matthew said. “Juli is someone who I have admired very much over the years in all that she has achieved both on and off the golf course, and I am delighted she will be my opposite number for the 2019 match. I’ve definitely picked up some valuable insights into Juli’s captaincy style over the last two matches, so I am excited we are both now in place and are ready to get down to business.”
Inkster’s name is prevalent throughout The Solheim Cup record books, including as the all-time leader in points earned in singles competition (seven). Her nine appearances are tied with Matthew and fellow American Cristie Kerr and are second only to Laura Davies (12), while she ranks seventh on the all-time points list (18.5) and in most matches won (15).
“I’m beyond excited to have Juli as the Solheim captain again,” said nine-time Team USA Solheim Cup member Cristie Kerr. “She’s an American star and a legend of the game. She has a chance to do what no one else has done before, and I believe she’s earned that.”
Inkster became the first Solheim Cup “playing assistant captain” in 2011, where she also earned the distinction of being the oldest player to compete on a Solheim Cup team at 51 years, 2 months and 30 days of age. Similarly, Matthew became the second-oldest player to compete when she filled in for Suzann Pettersen in 2017 at 47 years, 11 months and 24 days of age.
“I’m thrilled to hear that Juli will be returning for a historic third time as captain of the United States Solheim Cup team in 2019,” said John Solheim, PING Chairman and CEO. “Her experience as a two-time winning captain, along with her love and respect for the game, will be invaluable to the top-12 American players as they seek to make history in Scotland. As a nine-time participant in the event, Juli’s passion for the Solheim Cup has helped it to grow into the premier women’s team event in the world.”
As the Team USA captain, Inkster will be charged with selecting two players as captain’s picks in addition to the 10 automatic qualifiers. In 2015, she selected Creamer, who went 2-2-0, and Brittany Lang, who went 1-2-1. In 2017, Inkster selected Solheim Cup rookies Angel Yin (1-1-1) and Austin Ernst (2-2-0). Also in 2017, Inkster had to name a replacement for Jessica Korda who could not compete due to injury, and once again she opted for Creamer, who posted an impressive 3-1-0 record.
Inkster has yet to announce her assistant captains for 2019; Pat Hurst, Wendy Ward and Nancy Lopez served as her assistant captains in 2015 and 2017.