After leading the U.S. Solheim Cup Team to the largest come-from-behind victory in the event’s history, LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster announced that she will return as captain when the biennial team match-play competition heads to Des Moines, Iowa in the summer of 2017. The nine-time U.S.  Solheim Cup Team competitor was enthusiastically welcomed as the 2017 U.S. Team captain today at an energized press conference in downtown Des Moines.  Inkster was the surprise plot twist at the gathering of city officials, local leaders, golf fans and media billed as a “Holiday Solheim Cup Celebration.”  Inkster emerged from the audience to join two of her 2015 team members, Gerina Piller and Brittany Lang who’d been on stage fielding questions about Team USA’s comeback 2015 win and what is expected to be one of the most highly attended Solheim Cup competitions yet in 2017.

“So many people have asked ‘would you do it again?’” said Inkster.  “I have had a lo t of exciting and memorable highlights during my time on Tour but leading that team of 12 women was one of the biggest thrills of my entire golf career. So the answer was easy.  And I wanted to have this announced as soon as I could because keeping a secret isn’t one of my strengths. I’m thrilled by the challenge of defending the Cup on home soil next summer and can’t wait to put on a show in Des Moines.”

Inkster will now try to lead Team USA to victory at Des Moines Golf & Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 18-20, 2017.  The U.S. squad will look to defend on its home turf after suffering their first ever defeat on American soil in 2013 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado. The United States last won on U.S. soil in 2009 at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago, Illinois.

Inkster becomes just the fourth two-time captain to lead the Americans, joining Kathy Whitworth (1990 & 1992), Judy Rankin (1996 & 1998) and Patty Sheehan (2002 & 2003). The 31-time LPGA Tour winner and seven-time major champion holds several notable Solheim Cup records including being the all-time leader in points earned by a U.S. player (18.5) and points earned in singles competition (seven).

Inkster is also the only player to be an active competitor and serve as an assistant captain during the same Solheim Cup in 2011. That year she earned the distinction of being the oldest player to compete on a Solheim Cup Team at the age of 51 years, 2 months and 30 days. Inkster boasts an impressive 15-12-7 overall record in her nine Solheim Cup appearances.

“I am pleased that Juli will be returning as captain of the United States Solheim Cup team in 2017,” said John Solheim, PING Chairman and CEO.  “Juli’s passion for the event and skill as the U.S. captain in 2015 were on full display in her team’s phenomenal come-from-behind victory in Germany.  Her experience as a nine-time competitor and winning captain, along with her love and respect for the game, will be invaluable to the American team of 12 as it seeks to retain the cup in Des Moines.“

“Captain Inkster has created a strong, close-knit spirit for the U.S. Team, and I’m excited that she will get the opportunity to defend the Solheim Cup on our home soil,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “Her Hall-of-Fame career will be remembered for many incredible accomplishments, but I believe her Solheim Cup win in Germany will rank high among the achievements that she values most!”

The U.S. leads Europe 9-5 all-time in Solheim Cup competition following their historic comeback win in September at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Germany. The Americans trailed 10-6 heading into Sunday’s singles matches and overcame the largest deficit in the event’s history, winning 8 ½ points in the final session. Team USA won by a score of 14½ to 13½, the closest score in the history of the Cup.

“Our team’s performance in Germany was so inspiring for all of us and was prime example of the current state of American women’s golf,” said Inkster. “I enjoyed the role so much and had such a fun time that it was an easy decision for me to do it again. We have a lot of work ahead to make the experience in Des Moines just as successful and I’m looking forward to the challenge of defending the Cup on home soil.”

 

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