The Amundi Evian Championship in France, which starts on Thursday, was not a major in 2003 when it was called the Evian Masters. It wouldn’t be awarded that distinction by the LPGA Tour until a full decade later, but it was still an important victory for Juli Inkster, one of the best female golfers of all time.
Inkster, 62, who won 31 tournaments on the tour, including seven majors, got off to a wonderful start that week with a six-under 66. After a 72 on the second day, she closed with rounds of 64 and 65, and finished 21 under par, establishing a tournament record at the time.
She reflected recently on that triumph and her distinguished career. The following conversation has been edited and condensed.
What are your memories of that week?
I had the whole family and rented a house by the way. I got up early Monday and played a practice round, and then Tuesday we went river rafting.
You went river 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 the vest and throw him back in the boat. That was a little bit scary.
What did you love about the Evian?
They [Evian Resort Golf Club in Évian-les-Bains, France] Do a really good job of hosting us. They put a lot of money in trying to make the golf course better. It’s on the side of a hill, so there’s not much you can do, but as far as beauty and scenery and things to do, we love it over there.
Did you get the most out of your career?
I definitely got the most out of it. I was never the best at anything. I was just good at a lot of things and I was a grinder. I pretty much had three careers: one before kids, one during kids and one when the kids were a little older and traveling with me. Between 1990 and 1995, my golf wasn’t very good because I was having kids, but after that, I really played well.
What’s your no. 1 moment?
Probably winning the United States 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. That was one I always wanted to win but was having trouble doing it. So it was a big relief to do that.
What’s the current state of the LPGA Tour?
It’s great. These big corporations really get behind the LPGA and believe in what we’re doing. We’re getting to play these iconic golf courses that we were never able to play before. The purses are getting bigger.
Were you happy to be in your era, or wish you could play now?
I really enjoyed playing in my era just because all of us went to college. We all played in college against each other, and we all turned pro. There was a lot of camaraderie out there. Now it’s more of a business. They have their coaches and their parents and their agents. They still do stuff together, but not like we used to.
Do you think you would have been a better golfer with a team?
I don’t know. I like doing my own thing. I don’t like having a lot of people around. I did it the way I wanted to do it.
How do you feel about the tour moving the Chevron Championship out of Palm Springs next year?
I hated to leave that area, but I think Chevron is going to take it to the next level. They are going to make it major-worthy. The golf course [at the Club at Carlton Woods] we’re going to is a great course. It’s in a really good area in Houston.
Will you play in the United States Senior Women’s Open in August?
Yes. It’s one I haven’t won. I finished second twice. I would love to win it. I’m not getting any younger. I’ve just got to have one of those Evian moments where everything comes together. Maybe I should go river rafting before.