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Inkster bids farewell to US Women's Open

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 22, 2014 at 5:37 pm •  Published: June 22, 2014

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Juli Inkster sank her final putt for par, then tipped her cap and waved her putter.

The first hug came from her caddie, and a handful more came from the LPGA Tour players waiting just off the green.

For the Hall of Famer, it was a poignant farewell to the U.S. Women's Open.

Inkster wrapped up what she has said will be her 35th and final appearance in the tournament Sunday with a 75 that left her tied for 15th at 7 over.

"I was disappointed in the way I played today, as a golfer, but that was my first thought," Inkster said. "But as a person I just felt a lot of pride that people root for me like that."

Inkster — who turns 54 on Tuesday — has a long history with the U.S. Open, making the cut in her first try as an 18-year-old in 1978 and winning it in 1999 and 2002. She said this week that this would be her last Women's Open.

She put herself in contention for a third title during the third round when the tournament's first 66 moved her into a four-way tie for third behind Michelle Wie and Amy Yang.

The cheers for Inkster started Sunday when she walked to the first tee box, and they kept coming right through her final walk up the 18th fairway.

"It's really hard, they were so pulling for me, but it's really hard to acknowledge them when you're 5-over par and struggling," Inkster said. "It was very nice, especially the reception on No. 1 tee and reception on 18, and all around the golf course. It was great. Very, very, very honored."

In between, though, any hopes of a storybook ending came crashing down when she had five bogeys on the front nine. She added three more on the back to offset her three total birdies.

"It's been really a fun week," Inkster said, "and that's what I'll remember."


ROLL TIDE: Stephanie Meadow's first week as a professional was a pretty good one.

The former Alabama player from Northern Ireland finished the Women's Open in third place at 1 over after a 69.

Not bad for someone who was the first alternate out of her sectional qualifier in California and didn't find out she was headed to Pinehurst No. 2 until a few weeks ago. She turned pro Monday, and earned $271,373 — likely enough to secure her LPGA Tour card for next season.

"It's been amazing," Meadow said. "Couldn't have pictured a better way to start my professional career. It's pretty much a dream come true."

Meadow said she plans to enter upcoming tournaments as a Monday qualifier.

"The answer — please give me sponsor exemptions," she said, laughing. "It's just kind of up in the air. Obviously, I don't have any status as of yet, so I just have to wait and see."


TOP AMATEUR: Brooke Mackenzie Henderson claimed low amateur honors on the only day Minjee Lee really resembled one.

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