SAN FRANCISCO -- Juli Inkster is returning to golf a lot sooner than she had planned.
Inkster, who grew up in the Bay Area, was among those in the crowd last week at The Olympic Club before ducking out for the weekend to watch her oldest daughter, Hayley, graduate from the University of Santa Clara.
The inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic is the first of two LPGA Tour events in Canada this year, and is one of five new events on the 2012 schedule.
She had elbow surgery that figured to keep her out until August. But she played in the CVS Charity Classic this week in Rhode Island, and she plans to make her return next week at the Northwest Arkansas Championship in Arkansas, before going up to Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis., for the U.S. Women's Open.
''I can't believe how the strength has come back,'' Inkster said. ''I'm pretty excited.''
She has been mainly chipping and putting for the last month or so, which has held back the 51-year-old Inkster. She advanced to playing full rounds at Los Altos Country Club, where husband Brian is the PGA Head Professional, with a low round of 65.
The one difference when she returns? Inkster has been experimenting with the belly putter.