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Mallon Eying Solheim Cup Team Candidates
Meg Mallon, the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup team captain, is in Sylvania, Ohio, to observe possible members of her upcoming squad. She's attending the Marathon Classic, a $1.3 million LPGA Tour event that got underway Thursday at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
The eight-time player in the biennial competition is hoping to lead a team that will regain the Cup, which was won by the Europeans in 2011 in Ireland. This year's event will be held August 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo.
On Friday, Mallon met with reporters and discussed the possibilities for this year's team. Here's what she had to say.
MODERATOR: It is my pleasure to introduce the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup team captain, Meg Mallon, into the interview room. Meg, thanks for coming in out of your busy day.
MEG MALLON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: I know you were very busy out watching players. You got in some holes this morning and will be back out this afternoon. I'm sure you have the countdown going on somewhere, but just over three weeks to go. Can you believe it's finally here?
MEG MALLON: I know. Really my countdown is two tournaments. Still a lot of points to get. So it's an interesting couple of weeks coming up here, which is pretty exciting to watch, especially with how well the Americans are playing. I think that's the great thing. There are so many of them playing so well trying make the team. The hard part for me is only selecting two. That's why I'm here this week and I'll be at the British Open as well to watch players. I watched nine holes today, a few players today, and going to go you back out this afternoon and watch some more golf.
It was very nice for the tournament to put together the random pairings of two American groups in a row that I can watch pretty easily. That made it easy for me.
MODERATOR: Yeah, you have to be pleased. Last time I checked, there were six players within the top 12 U.S. Solheim Cup points and top 20 here trying to get those last few points they can get. They're really grinding. Have to be pretty proud of how they're playing and really trying to get those last couple spots.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, I am. The fact that they want to be on the team so bad and represent their country just shows a lot for their character for sure.
MODERATOR: Last time I read your blog you were writing a blog for our website you said one of the biggest things you said was getting your whole family to travel down, making sure they get there. It's going to be a family affair.
MEG MALLON: Well, yeah. I was going to say, because at this tournament I used to ask for an amazing amount of tickets just for this event. They know how big my family is. It's just really special for me that they want to come, that my friends and family want to come out and do that. I am still working on tickets and all that, but at least all the hotels rooms and flights and that are all set. There is a lot that goes into this. It's not just about the golf, which is the fun part for me. It's all the preparations of putting together meals, clothing, you know, everything. I compared it to planning a wedding for seven straight days, a different wedding every day. It's that complicated. Yes, for 12 players.
MODERATOR: It's been a two year journey, like you said, so much planning and so many details. At this point, two events, three weeks left, what's really on the day to day agenda for you?
MEG MALLON: I mean, pouring over stats, watching the players. Now it's getting narrowed down for sure. Just seeing past records, how they're performing now. There is just, like I said, a lot of pieces to the pie that go into the process of selecting your players. Some of it's on the golf course; some of it is being at home. A lot of factors are involved. I've been a part of nine Solheim Cups. I hope I can tap into some of that experience to help me select the right picks.
MODERATOR: They dynamic stat for you. You picked Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz.
MEG MALLON: Uh huh.
MODERATOR: Talk about those two and how their role and being assistants, what they've brought to the team in terms of things maybe some other assistants might not have done. What's the most integral thing they've done?
MEG MALLON: Dottie and I spent our whole careers together and really got to know each other very well through the Solheim Cup. I just felt it was a perfect time for her to come back into the fold in the Solheim Cup. She was arguably the face of the Solheim Cup in the '90s and just wore her passion on her sleeve. It's just been terrific having her back involved and being a part of the event. Then I needed a player that was still close to the players on tour, still playing on tour, and Laura Diaz was the perfect fit for me. She played in four Solheim Cups. She was trying to make this team as well.
But she was out here day to day. I needed a player out here that could give me a heartbeat of what's going on. I couldn't do that. Unless you're playing, you really don't know what exactly is going on. So the two of them together have been a great fit for me and have been very complementary as far as their skills go. I am looking forward to working with them for that week.
MODERATOR: Any questions for Meg?
Q. You had a stellar Solheim Cup record. What's it take to be a successful player that level?
MEG MALLON: Well, you know, it's something that hopefully I can convey to my players is that first and foremost it's supposed to be fun. I had a lot of fun playing in the Solheim Cup. I grew up playing team sports my whole life. You play an individual sport like golf and then you get to the opportunity not only to play on a team but then to represent your country, that should be a lot of fun. So I think that's the biggest part of it. I think the more fun you have, the more relaxed you're going to be, the better you play. I also had great partners, too. I was lucky to play with some really great players, a lot of Hall of Famers. And I got to give a nod to my captains. They put me in good positions. It's the most fun I've ever had playing golf.
Q. Follow up on that: How do you put the pressure aside, because there is going to be pressure.
MEG MALLON: You know, there is. Pressure is just what you make up in your own mind. You know, it really is. We're playing a game. It's all positive things: You have your home field, you have your fans behind you. Your senses are so keen that week. I hit golf shots I never hit in regular tournaments at the Solheim Cup.
And then my biggest job too is we're playing in altitude, and then you throw in adrenaline and then I got some 18, 19, 20 year old kids. So a lot of energy will be going on there. So that's going to be our biggest challenge. They're going to be so fired up. I don't want to see them hitting 20 yards over the green because of it. So there will be a lot of coaching going on between Dottie, Laura, and I as far as preparing them for at least trying to prepare them for how they'll feel on that first tee.
MODERATOR: Follow up: Two rookies are currently qualified on points, Lexi and Korda. Have you approached any veteran players recently to kind of maybe urge them fill the role of the leadership and kind of just being maybe another captain on the course?
MEG MALLON: Absolutely. I believe people can show leadership in different ways. You know, I have players like Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis, that are all leaders, and they're leaders in different ways. Some show it on the golf course and some off the golf course. We'll definitely be leaning on that for that leadership, because those young players like up to them. It's also a great opportunity for them to get to know each other, too.
Q. Meg, you talk about pouring over stat sheets, past performances, all that. How much of it, though, comes down to a gut feel when you're making picks, two people basically representing you?
MEG MALLON: That's right. You know, I think it's some of that. I think the gut feeling has a lot of that, but I think that comes from all the preparation that you do prior to that. You know, I can say right now that I can look at logically who should be the picks. Come Sunday of the British Open, that gut feeling may come into play. Take a look at Rosie Jones. She had a total gut feeling about Ryann O'Toole and selected her, and Ryann played great in the Solheim Cup. So it's always an interesting situation.
I will say, though, being a pick, you have to handle being a pick. It's not just about you've been playing great. You also have to handle having that position. I've seen players that, you know, it didn't help their career very much because it was a tough position to be in. I've seen players thrive and make them better players being in that position.
Q. Were you ever a pick or did you always qualify?
MEG MALLON: I always qualified. And I've said from the get-go, I don't have any sympathy for anybody that hasn't made the team. If you haven't made the team, you haven't made the team. That's it.
Q. You qualified a lot off what you did on this golf course.
MEG MALLON: I did. Although I got disqualified that one year.
Q. I remember that.
MEG MALLON: That hurt my chances. I'm now in the USGA Rules of Golf video because of what happened here. Did you know a ball hanging on a lip that's oscillating is deemed to be at rest? Yeah.
Q. It is now.
MEG MALLON: Yeah. We learned that in Toledo. They were peeling my name off the leaderboard. I was in the lead. I shot 65. It was a three round tournament, and the next day had the Golf Channel go. Look at the ticker. I had gone over the time. They were peeling my name off the leaderboard as my group is going on without me. Yeah. But I got them back in 2004, though, didn't I?
Q. Did that make '04 even sweeter?
MEG MALLON: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We talked about this. This is a full circle event for me. I was driving through Michigan past Grand Blanc yesterday, and I won the amateur in Grand Blanc. The Michigan amateur is what got me into the Toledo event as an amateur. Then it became my last professional event. I retired here, too. And my last professional win was in Toledo, so very special place for me.
Q. You've gone on record as saying the Solheim Cup is not for everybody. Could you elaborate on that?
MEG MALLON: Well, sometimes you don't find out until they tee it up in one. You know, some players make a career out of playing golf; others like to be on the stage. The Solheim Cup is a stage. It's a high profile stage with a lot of energy and attention. It takes a special player to embrace that and want to play in that. You know, like I said, it's not for everybody. Sometimes they don't find out until they play in it. You have to examine that, too, as you're looking at your picks and how your team is being made up.
Q. So the biggest stage, the majors, does that carry a little bit more weight with you?
MEG MALLON: Yeah. If you're in contention in the majors, absolutely. I think that has a lot to do with preparing you for that and how they handle that for sure.
Q. Talk about what it's going to be like to make your picks on the green at St. Andrews.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, I think my perfect scenario would be is if Inbee Park is in the lead going into Sunday and then an American player wins the British Open on Sunday so all the media is there. Then we announce the Solheim Cup team and go right into the Solheim Cup. I think that would be my ideal scenario. Yeah, how thrilling to be in the home of golf and have the women's greatest stage of the British Open, and then two hours after the last putt drops we select our teams. It's going to be great. I hope. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: Any other questions for Meg? All right. Thanks for joining us.
MEG MALLON: Thank you guys. Go USA!
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.