An Interview with: Meg Mallon
MEG MALLON: This is. You know, I said the Open I won in '91 I shot 67 the last day to come from behind, and felt like that was a pretty darn good round, too. Today I just -- I mean it was the same thing, I don't think I made a bogey in that round, either. And today I didn't, and it was incredible. Everything went right.
All the -- I guess it's a blue moon month, I had the blue moon lined up today. And I'm beside myself. I haven't putted like this in, I can't tell you how long. And just to stand over the putter like that and have these amazing putts go in was so much fun.
RHONDA GLENN: With Kelly and Annika right behind you pushing you all the way, you're looking at the leaderboard, you must have a very great sense of peace inside and strength of character to be able to stand up to that kind of challenge.
MEG MALLON: Are you kidding? Peace inside? You know what I was doing, I was having a ball with the gallery. Every hole they were so supportive of me, and kept pushing me on. And I said this isn't going to be a distraction, and every hole I so appreciated how much they were supporting me and I just fed off of that and really -- I'm 41 years old, and you've got to enjoy your days, and enjoy when things like this happen. And so I had that mindset today that I was going to go out and have a fun time and play a great golf course and just do the best that I can. And it was all that.
MEG MALLON: I would definitely say much, much harder. There's some -- when you have history, you just know all the things can go wrong. I've had two second place finishes in the U.S. Opens, and to me they were disasters. I kick started Annika's career in '95, she was five shots behind me and came back and won her first win.
In 2000 made -- had four 3-putts on the back side to lose to Karrie Webb.
MEG MALLON: By far. I can't even imagine what she's doing right now. I'm thrilled for her, because her days are pretty long and arduous and as much as she's struggling, just to have something like that happen, I just -- it's a very emotional situation for our family. I don't know if you all know this, but my mother had a severe brain hemorrhage in 2001, is right sided paralyzed, and has some speech impediment problems, and was fully aware of what was happening today.
MEG MALLON: It just felt right for me this week, I just had such a great response. We used to spend our summers back on the Cape in New England, because my father's family was here. And my brothers and sisters were raised in New England, so it's a big part of my life. So I just love the culture here and New England. And it's funny, someone yelled out, "If the Red Sox can't do it, you can do it today". And that is so Boston right there to say something like that. I figure if I can win the U.S. Open then the Red Sox can win the World Series.
MEG MALLON: It's probably a little different, when I won my first Open I just had my first win ever, like three months prior, and then I won a Major, the LPGA Championship, and then I won the U.S. Open, so I was completely overwhelmed by all this.
But this one I was just able to take in. And the Open I won before I was like -- I had to wait an hour for the leaders to come in, so this was so great to have the last group, the last putt and have the opportunity to celebrate it like that.
MEG MALLON: Well, you know, you have the mindset in the Open that a bogey doesn't hurt you. And so I just relaxed over that, because I was like, okay, if I make a bogey I'm fine, just don't 3-putt and put yourself in a difficult situation.
MEG MALLON: That will soak in I think later, and to be able to watch and see what happened. Today it was a surreal moment. It was -- you're constantly having chats with yourself walking down the fairways, and trying not to get too caught up with what's going on. So I said this is like the Solheim Cup, go out and enjoy the galleries and how they're cheering and carrying on, treat it like it's a Solheim Cup. And I've played off of that experience, because how loud those Solheim Cups get.
And to be the one to come through on that just is so gratifying, I can't even tell you. They always say when you're struggling all year, which I've struggled with my putting all year. I've hit the ball very well and if someone had told me I was going to win the U.S. Open in July, I wouldn't have worried back in March that I was putting poorly. And things happen for a reason, and for some reason it just all came together this week.
Q. Secondly, at what point in the round, I know you had a lot of great things happen, pins that got dented, did you start feeling that this is mine to win, and how were your emotions over the tee shots on 17 and 18 different than they were on 13, 14, 15?
MEG MALLON: Actually, I pretty much maintained, which was good, I maintained my mental framework throughout those holes, because they're so hard. And I kept -- there was no way you can get ahead of yourself, which is good for me, because that's something I like to do sometimes.
And on this golf course you had to stay totally in the moment and totally on that hole and on that shot that you were playing. I was, frankly, relieved that I hit 16 in two and that I had an opportunity for a birdie there. But at least to walk off that green with a par, because I felt that that was one of the disaster holes out there. And fortunately it didn't happen.
MEG MALLON: No, 5-iron and 11-wood. And I went up to the 11-wood and probably hit the best shot of the day from the club face. And I'm hearing Annika make birdie on 18. So I knew it wasn't going to be easy.
MEG MALLON: No. I have my life in perspective, so this is unbelievable, it's fantastic, I'm pinching myself. My family is here with me. We're going to go have a great time tonight, which we always do together, whether I had not won or not, you know. We would have enjoyed each other's company, no matter what. It's something that I'm incredibly proud that I have my name on this trophy again. I didn't think it would ever happen, especially after finishing second twice. But it is truly my favorite event to play, although it is by far the hardest event we play. I may have a total meltdown in the next two weeks after this.
MEG MALLON: It was tough. I had a three shot lead, like Jen Rosales did. And I had made a bogey on 3 and I tripled No. 4, and it was a par-3. And it was a good triple, too. I made a 3-footer with a two foot break for triple. And it shakes you up when you're playing so well and you have something like that happen. But I was proud of the fact that I shot even par after that and still had a chance to win. I had a putt on the last hole to tie.
So that was a difficult one to face. And then my performance in 2000 I was just very disappointed on having four 3-putts on the back side. I just thought -- I was fully disgusted with myself at that performance. But you think about it, you take those things, and the history that you're talking about and tuck them in the back of your brain and you say, "Okay, I'm not going to do that one again."
MEG MALLON: I guess the experience, although last year Hilary Lunke was out of nowhere, a regional qualifier and made it. But truly experience. My best day was the first day, by far, because I hit it so bad. I hit 6 fairways and 8 greens. And I just kept it in the back of my mind that, you know, 2-over is okay. And you're not going to shoot yourself out of the Open shooting 2-over.
So that actually, as poorly as I played that day, I got up-and-down out of everywhere and saved my round at 2-over. I think that experience in knowing that a bogey here or there or a couple of bogeys you're not going to lose the Open on. Now I discovered in '95 that a triple you will lose the Open (laughter), but not a bogey.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, that was just out of nowhere. It was a 54-footer and it goes in the hole and it was breaking downhill, sliding left-to-right. And those just don't go in, you're trying to cozy that up. And Jen was playing well, too, she had birdied the first hole and was pumped up and playing great. But I just said, "Okay, just keep hanging in there", and strange things happen in the Open, and I've seen it.
MEG MALLON: I thought actually okay. I really thought -- I knew Kelly and Annika were going to play well. My mind wasn't just on Jen. I felt like 4- or 5-under was leading the Open. And so I never just put pressure on myself that I had to make birdies, just let them happen. And I thought, well, if Jen goes out and shoots under par, then her tournament, her day, well done. But I know how difficult the U.S. Open is, it's difficult to hold on to a lead and a big lead. I played in the last group with Patty Sheehan when she gave up 78, 10 shots. And I learned a lot from that, too, because you just never know what's going to happen in a U.S. Open. And you just keep hanging around.
MEG MALLON: It's so difficult to do, but you don't think, "I'm going to go out and win another Open." I know that I have a game to play in the Open and I love tournaments where you're the only person under par and winning, and I seem to do well in those. And I guess that's why I like competing in the Open.
Q. There were lots of interesting contrasts between your play today and Jennifer Rosales, lots of contrasts in many ways, and it represents a diversity in the LPGA. Did much go on between the two of you? Did you talk much?
MEG MALLON: Not a whole lot. When you're in a twosome, and we were slightly a bit behind, we were kind of moving along. There wasn't a whole lot of chatter going on, just because we were -- we were too busy playing. Certainly the niceties of, "Good shot" and all that stuff was going on. But I told Jen on 18, I said, "I got to shake your hand when you won your first tournament in Atlanta", so it was nice to play with her again today. She's got a great future on our Tour, and she's going to do a lot of good things. I'm sure she's extremely disappointed right now.
MEG MALLON: That's what made me laugh, because that's probably good that I left at 11 months old, because I didn't carry that mentality with me. And I grew up in Detroit, and Detroit is where I'm from. But it's so funny, you listen to the radio and the media in New England and they're so negative about the Red Sox. And I know Nomar and Mia Hamm, and Nomar talks about that quite a bit. And I said, "If you didn't get all this negative energy coming your way, you would probably do well." The Yankees expect to win and they do. Where the Red Sox expect to fail, and they're killing us. So when she yelled that out I shook my head and said, "There's a Red Sox fan right there."
Q. When Annika was in here she shot 67 today and lost by two, which is unusual. I wonder if you could speak to what you gained out of your two runner up finishes in terms of the disappointment, what she must be going through, and looking at the big picture, eventually do you pride yourself, looking back on the fact that you were there or is it just too much disappointment that you didn't get it done? How do you look at that?
MEG MALLON: That's tough. Hopefully Annika is feeling that she got beat today, that she didn't lose, and I think that's what happened. And that's what she does to us as players, elevates our games and you have to go out and play like that today. That's the kind of golf she's playing right now. So to have her be the one to finish second is even that more gratifying, the fact that you beat the best player in the world today, because it doesn't happen very often.
Q. Actually a serious question, but can you take me through your shopping before the week, before the week started and how much you bought at the merchandise tent? Who had the wilder outfit today, you or Jennifer?
MEG MALLON: Well, hands down, Jennifer. She gets to design her own clothes. Although I think Doug Ferguson wins the wildest outfit of the day. Yeah, I did a little shopping in the tent this week, because I needed some hats, I didn't have any hats. So I bought some hats and I always get something for my mom. I got a shirt and hat also. I got in there early this week and got out of there quickly.
MEG MALLON: I'm not half the person that she is. She has -- she's just the best human being I've ever known in my entire life. And I've said this from the time I was three years old, she's just one of these unique, wonderful people. This experience with her has just been incredible, because her attitude -- to be around her is such a treat, and she's making you feel good when you're trying her to make her feel better. And she's just that type of person.
And she is competitive. And that's why we know she's going to walk again, because she's so darn competitive that I go and visit her and go to her therapy sessions with her and she's on that stationary bike moving that leg as hard as she can. When you see something like that, your day and your life is not that bad.
MEG MALLON: I don't remember a thing about it. I know we moved to Michigan and -- in February, because you said that the Beatles were on. That's why she remembers moving to Michigan, because her screaming and yelling in front of the TV. And I don't remember that, either.
MEG MALLON: Again, I hit a 5-iron, which I discovered on that hole that the greens had firmed up quite a bit. I hit a good shot in there and it released almost 18 yards in there. I had 54 feet and made that for birdie.