Juli Inkster thinks with
a little work, soccer star Mia Hamm might make it on the LPGA Tour someday.
But she knows Hamm is more interested
in launching a women's professional soccer league before retiring to the
On Monday, Inkster and Hamm were
honored as Sportswomen of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation.
Maybe Inkster could swap golf
lessons for soccer tips for her 5- and 9-year-old daughters.
"They loved following the World
Cup," Inkster said. "They were all over it. They got to meet them."
Hamm, the most prolific scorer
in women's soccer, was chosen in the team sport category. She helped the
U.S. team capture the 1999 Women's World Cup before a record crowd of 90,185
fans at the Rose Bowl final July 10.
Inkster, who won five LPGA titles
this season to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame, was selected in the individual
For Hamm, who has a 13 handicap,
the next goal is establishing a women's pro soccer league after the 2000
"We want to see it happen, and
2001 is probably the best bet to launch it," Hamm said. "Hopefully, the
success from last summer and the excitement for the Olympics will get this
Hamm isn't certain the women's
pro league will be partnered with Major League Soccer. Unlike the NBA,
which finances the WNBA, the men's soccer league does not have such deep
"I hope it can succeed on its
own," Hamm said. "What we don't want is just for it to be around for a
couple of years. We want it to endure the test of time and be around for
my kids to play in. We want to make sure we do it right and get a solid
foundation before we jump into anything."
But for now the players bask
in the glow of the World Cup with the victory tour and a series of indoor
soccer exhibitions that begins Friday in Pittsburgh. The 12-city tour against
an international team ends Dec. 15 in Portland, Ore.
Inkster, who won the U.S. Open,
is enjoying her best season in 17 years on the tour. She once went five
years without a tour victory.
"I realized I could be a mom
and play golf," she said. "It's a fine balance. I have a lot of support
at home. It's not easy, but I am doing what I love to do."
After achieving her goal of winning
the U.S. Open, Inkster won the LPGA Championship to become only the fourth
woman to win the career Grand Slam, joining Pat Bradley, Louise Suggs
and Mickey Wright. She gained the final point for the Hall of Fame
last month with a victory in the Safeway Championship.
"When they changed the Hall of
Fame criteria, I was like, `I need seven points, two majors and three tournaments,
there's no way."' she said. "And that's just what I did this year."
The 39-year-old Inkster is vying
with Karrie Webb for Player of the Year honors.
"Player of the Year is important,
but getting in the Hall of Fame was my No. 1 thing," she said. "Whatever
comes next is gravy."
Six of the eight surviving cofounders
of the LPGA attended the Women's Sports Foundation dinner. Among those
attending the festivities was Aileen Riggin Soule, a gold medalist diver
at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.