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Golf Notes January 1

Juli Inkster already has everything she needs - membership in the Hall of Fame, the career Grand Slam, more major championships than any active player on the LPGA Tour, a supportive husband and two daughters.

Is it time to become a part-time player? Not quite.

"I want to give it one more good year and see what happens," she said when the LPGA Tour season ended last month at the ADT Championship.

Women's golf is in the middle of a three-month break, but the 42-year-old Inkster didn't sound as though she was in any mood to stash her clubs in the closet.

Inkster is rarely satisfied, a trait that has made her the best player of her generation. Asked about her plans during the LPGA Tour hiatus, she said there would be a little relaxing and a lot of work.

"I've got some issues with my swing I've got to work out," she said. "I'm going to work on my swing, relax, and get ready for March."

Inkster won twice this year, including a career-defining victory in the U.S. Women's Open when she closed with a 66 and made up a two-stroke deficit against Annika Sorenstam.

Her goal for 2003 is to play better from start to finish.

"I'd like to get my golf game for a whole year when I play good," she said. "This year, I played good at the start, good in the middle and bad at the end. I know I can get a little better. I don't feel like I've hit it yet."

What would it mean to the woman who has everything?

What does she have to prove?

"I think what pushes me is beating all these little (punks)," she said with a twinkle in her eye and a hearty laugh. "I like beating the younger players."

BRITISH ISSUES: The secretary of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club believes Britain is "miles away" from disputes over all-male clubs like the one at Augusta National and the Masters.

Even so, Peter Dawson said in an interview with The Scotsman that golf's oldest governing body could be split into two divisions - the all-male golf club, and a governing side of the R&A that would be open to women.

Dawson said while he has no problems with single-gender golf clubs, it might raise questions if an all-male organization is setting rules for both sexes.

"All I can say right now is that we have a group looking at these things very hard, and when they come up with their report, we'll take a view on it," Dawson said. "We know what's going around us. There has to be a response, but not a knee-jerk response."

The British Open was held this year at all-male Muirfield, but Dawson said in July that the R&A's only concern was taking its championship to the best links.

Dawson said he is sympathetic toward Augusta National, primarily because of the way the campaign has been carried out.

"The most worrying aspect is how Martha Burk and her organization seem to be saying, 'I have a view on how society should be ordered. You at Augusta National are not doing anything illegal, but you do not conform to my view. So I'm going to do everything I can to damage your golf tournament until you bend to my view,'" he said.

ROYAL FAREWELL?: One of the longest streaks in golf could be ending.

Dating to his U.S. Open appearance in 1953, Arnold Palmer has played in at least one PGA Tour event for 50 consecutive years. Along with the Masters, the King traditionally plays in the Bob Hope Classic and his Bay Hill Invitational.

But Palmer said he will not be playing in the Hope, and he said last year he was done playing at Bay Hill.

If that's the case, the longest streak will belong to Jack Nicklaus, who has played in at least one PGA Tour event the last 45 years. Even though the Golden Bear had severe back issues last year, he still played in his Memorial - and even beat Tiger Woods by three strokes in the opening round (71-74).

BOOING BERNHARD: Even Bernhard Langer, one of the most gracious players in golf, can be subjected to bad behavior from spectators.

The worst came at The Players Championship several years ago when he was in contention on Sunday and arrived on the island-green 17th.

"As soon as I hit it, one guy yelled, 'Go in the water!' That wasn't nice," Langer said.

Did the ball go in the water?

"No, I hit a good shot," Langer said. Then after pausing, he added with a smile, "I made birdie, actually."

NEW HOME IN HOUSTON: The PGA Tour is moving out of the TPC at The Woodlands, and the LPGA Tour is moving in.

The Samsung World Championship for 20 of the top women in the world is relocating to The Woodlands and will be played Oct. 9-12. Annika Sorenstam is the defending champion.

The move fills a void in Texas for the LPGA Tour, which last year lost a tournament honoring Harvey Penick in Austin.

The Shell Houston Open on the PGA Tour is moving to Redstone Golf Club next year, ending 28 years at The Woodlands.

DIVOTS: The British-based Association of Golf Writers has awarded its annual Golf Writers' Trophy to Europe's Ryder Cup team for its victory over the United States. ... Annika Sorenstam changed her mind and will play in the Skins Game on Jan. 25-26 at Wailea in Hawaii. Sorenstam will play against Karrie Webb, Laura Diaz and Laura Davies.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has been No. 1 in the world for 245 weeks since he turned pro. The record belongs to Greg Norman, who was No. 1 in the world for 331 weeks over a 12-year span.

FINAL WORD: "Phil Mickelson would have prepared for that match as well as he would have prepared for any round of golf, but the boy took him apart. It was wonderful." - European captain Sam Torrance, on 119th-ranked Phillip Price beating Mickelson in a pivotal Ryder Cup match.

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