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March 28, 2017
Rancho Mirage, California
THE MODERATOR: I am excited to welcome in our special guests here to celebrate the induction of Meg Mallon into the World Golf Hall of Fame. First I'm joined by LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, our guest of honor and 2017 inductee Meg Mallon, as well as President of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Jack Peter.
We're going to start with a few comments from our panel first and then we will open it up for a few questions. Jack, why don't you start us off.
JACK PETER: Good afternoon, everyone. We're excited to be here this afternoon.
On September 26, Meg will enter into the World Golf Hall of Fame with Lorena Ochoa, Davis Love III, Ian Woosnam and the late Henry Longhurst, bringing the total membership in the World Golf Hall of Fame to 155 members.
The ceremony will be held at Cipriani's Wall Street in New York, and will kick off what we think is a really very exciting week for golf. In addition to the ceremony, it's the 12th edition of the Presidents Cup. It's the 20th anniversary of the founding of the First Tee. And we will also be looking at the inaugural playing of the junior Presidents Cup, a new event for the PGA TOUR. All on the world's largest and arguably most dynamic media market, so we think it's going to be a great week for everyone.
As many of you know, or if you don't know, the Hall of Fame is located in Northeast Florida in St. Augustine, which is the nation's oldest city. Our mission is very simple, but it's profound. It's to celebrate and preserve the history of the game and those who have made it great.
We do this through a variety of ways, including in-museum exhibitions, traveling exhibitions, promotions, and different educational programs, and I want to bring your attention, currently we have an exhibition in the museum called Greats and Grit: Women's Champions Through the Years. It features golf's greatest female champions spanning eight decades from the 1940s to today. The exhibit celebrates the rich history and the achievements of not only the 20 lady Hall of Fame members but also present-day major champions, including world No. 1 Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, and of course, Lorena Ochoa and Meg Mallon.
The induction ceremony obviously is our featured event, when we enshrine both male and female golfers, as well as golf contributors from all over the world. We moved to a biannual schedule in 2015 when we staged the induction ceremony in St. Andrews the week of The Open Championship. This year, as I said, the ceremony will kick off the Presidents Cup, and in 2019 we're scheduled to be at Pebble Beach the week of the men's U.S. Open.
We couldn't be prouder of our '17 class, and we were fortunate to have all four inductees in the Hall of Fame a couple of weeks ago, and it's always fun to see the recognition and the importance of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame manifest itself in the four inductees, so it was a great day.
Speaking of Meg, which is why we're here, we're here to celebrate her election into the Hall of Fame, but before we open it up for questions, I want to turn it over to the Commissioner of the LPGA, Mike Whan.
MIKE WHAN: You know, I don't even know where to start, and I probably should have brought notes like Jack --
MEG MALLON: I was born in 1963.
MIKE WHAN: The amazing thing for me is that Meg is an incredible individual athlete, 18 wins, four majors, but if you know Meg, what you'd realize is she would have been an even better team sports athlete because I can think of no better teammate in the world, and I don't know a player on Tour that wouldn't make that comment, whether that's eight times representing her country on the U.S. Solheim Cup team or assistant captain or captaining the Solheim Cup team. There's just a -- I've always said there's two players on Tour that hug you like they love you: Juli Inkster and Meg Mallon. Everybody else, we've learned how to hug and make virtually no physical contact whatsoever, but when they hug you, you feel loved, and there's something pretty powerful about what you've meant on this Tour outside of your wins.
And I know that this induction is going to be talking about your wins, and this induction is going to be talking about how you out-paced everybody else, but I think most of us in the room that night, even though we're going to be celebrating your wins and what you did better than everybody else, it'll be what you did with everybody else that really stands out.
As Meg knows, and I'm not sure that you love the fact that I tell this story so much, but almost every young player on Tour has heard my story of Meg Mallon, and if we were in the room right now the eyes would be rolling, typical commissioner eye rolling magnitude, which is I can't tell you the number of young rookies -- in here, in these media centers, we talk a lot about the kids who come here and just win, I mean, Lydia and Brooke and Ariya and Stacy. They get on Tour and they just succeed right out of the gate. They didn't know they couldn't.
But I spend a lot of time, most of my time with the players that don't have that kind of initial success. They come out, they got their family and their caddie and their parents and the neighbors that are funding them, and it doesn't happen, and at the end of the year I see them at Q-school or I see them next year in Symetra, and they need a Meg Mallon hug, and so I tell them the story, which is I remember the first time we ever talked, when I got to talk to you about being the captain of Solheim, we talking on the phone, and she said to me, you know what, Commish? My first year I came out of Ohio State, thought I was pretty hot stuff, thought I was going to take the Tour by stride, and I don't know if I say this story exactly right, so this is how I tell the players, but what I say is in her first year she made one cut and made no money. Is that right?
MEG MALLON: Three cuts, and one of the tournaments I made no money.
MIKE WHAN: Sounds so much better when I -- okay, so Meg tells me that back at the time you could make the cut at 70 but only get paid to 60. I might try to re-institute that and then run when the players vote.
But the idea was that she came out of first year and didn't win any money and was right back at Q-school, and then came out of the second round of Q-school and is now in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and I think most of my young layers need that story more than they need 18 wins and four majors and eight-time Solheim Cup because it tells them that it comes at different times, and you've got to -- sometimes you've got to want it more than you thought you did. I haven't met a player yet coming out of college that believes she's going to walk on Tour and just light it up, and it doesn't happen all the time.
Probably nothing you asked me to come up here and talk about, Jack, or you wanted me to talk about, but when I think of Meg, I think about the greatest team player in an individual sport and the person that continues today to teach young players on Tour that there's a lot of ways to make it to the World Golf Hall of Fame, and quite frankly, for most of my young players, yours is the story they have to hear.
MEG MALLON: Thank you, Mike.
THE MODERATOR: How does it feel to be back here not only at the ANA Inspiration but to be also inducted this year into the World Golf Hall of Fame?
MEG MALLON: Well, this is one of my favorite events that I ever played on Tour. Unfortunately I didn't get to jump into that lake, but I watched a lot of my friends do it. And coming back to the media tent here, I want to thank the media guys that are here and some of the regulars that were out on Tour when I was out on Tour. Appreciate you being here.
What I remember is having some really, really good conversations with Jim Murray, who used to write for a Los Angeles paper, and those are the kind of memories I enjoyed from this place. Jim was a great guy, and wonderful to talk to, and one of my -- sorry, guys, one of my all-time favorite sports writers, which I think you'll defer to that.
You know, it's a lot of good memories here. My parents moved to Ramona, California, when I was in college, so I got my name in bold face in all the California papers because my parents lived here.
But it's a special place for me, and it's great to come back, and walking around the golf course today, the rough is not thick enough, the greens need to be faster, but it is a special place, and it's a great venue for a major championship.
It's terrific to be here, and as my friends know, I love celebrating anything, so being able to celebrate getting in the Hall of Fame is pretty special, and my family is enjoying it, as well.
Q. Can you tell us the story of how you found out and what the reaction was?
MEG MALLON: Yeah. So poor Mike was trying to get a hold of me. He was in China in a typhoon on the 10th floor, which he decided to bring his wife to for the first time, which has probably made -- his wife Meg, by the way, which is another story. And I was transitioning -- I live in Michigan in the summertime, and I was driving from Michigan down to Florida, and it was the first day, so I had packed up the car, and I'm like, I'm just going to call Mike back later, I've got too much going on. So it turned into about 9:30 at night when I finally sat down and called him. I thought, what can he want?
He said, Meg, I just -- you know, in his fast -- Meg, just so you know, I wanted to get a hold of you before the media gets a hold of you --
MIKE WHAN: Hey, that sounds pretty good.
MEG MALLON: And I said, What, Mike? He goes, well, you've been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. And I said, are you kidding me? And then I started bawling, and he thought I hung up because I was crying, and I couldn't respond because then I started talking again, going on and on. He said, you need to do this, this and that. Finally, he goes, Meg, Meg? I go, I'm here.
So it just caught me by just complete surprise, and obviously I was thrilled.
Like me, and my friends will laugh at this, but they said not to tell anybody, but I called my family. I called a lot of people and told them to swear not to say anything for 24 hours, and it worked out fine.
MIKE WHAN: Were you really in a like road stop? I think you said to me, I pulled over like at an oasis or something.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, I think I was in Dayton, Ohio.
MIKE WHAN: God's country.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, where some University is.
Q. Early in your career or when you got here, were you thinking about Hall of Fame? At what point did that ever cross your mind?
MEG MALLON: You know, I was a little girl dreaming of being in the Olympics. I read every book about Babe Didrikson. I played baseball, I was a swimmer, I played tennis, I played a lot of team sports. Basketball is still my first love. Unfortunately I'm only 5'6Ã‚Â½" and have a two-inch vertical so that didn't go very far. But no, I never thought about being in the LPGA or World Golf Hall of Fame.
It became -- I had to learn about the LPGA. I had to learn about the players when I came out on Tour. I was a raw talent basically coming out. I did not have a lot of experience when I came out on Tour, so I was the unusual one. Like Mike said, I had to learn how to play and compete out here.
And it was good for me because I learned about the history of the Tour and I learned so much about it and where I got to really appreciate it and become good friends with a Louise Suggs or players like that that you learn a lot about the history of it, so I came to appreciate it so much.
Q. Jim Murray, for us older guys in the press tent, was a very meaningful role model. He had a tremendous impact on a lot of us, including me. Do you happen to have a favorite story or a favorite kind of remembrance in relationship to Jim?
MEG MALLON: Well, you know, towards the end his wife would come with him a lot, so we would sit and talk. I would literally sit in here for an hour and talk with him and his wife, and he got to know my parents, so it just really became more of a personal relationship that I'll cherish. For some reason, it must have been the slowest sports day in history, but he wrote two columns on me, and that I'll cherish for the rest of my life, too, but he was just a good, kind man, and I enjoyed being around him.
Q. As Mike explained, you did take a non-traditional route compared to today. Have you had players seeking you out to try to make that decision?
MEG MALLON: Yeah, quite a few, actually. You know, I was the Junior Solheim Cup captain in 2011, and I think -- I think that whole team is now professional. It was a great team. And I got a lot of phone calls from those guys throughout the years about what to do and the transitioning. A couple of them didn't listen to me and they should have.
But you know, for the most part, it's a very successful bunch of players, so it's been fun for me to watch them progress, and a few of them are out here this week actually.
Yeah, I keep in contact with the players. I love being involved with the younger players. I do a lot with Ohio State women's golf team. I actually have played with the Northwestern women's golf team, the Michigan women's golf team, and they're all full of questions about what to do with their careers.
Since I took that route, four years of college, mini-Tour, Tour, I think it's more of a reasonable look at players like that to say, okay, here's someone I can look at that maybe I could do what she did.
Q. Talk about you were in the Hall of Fame in St. Augustine. Talk about that experience meeting the other members of the 2017 class, and then also, have you given any thought to what you want to put in your locker?
MEG MALLON: Well, first of all, I can't believe Ian Woosnam is shorter than Lorena Ochoa. I think that was the biggest surprise to me. You know, Davis is about 6'4", and then it went way down to the end.
But I just -- I've never met Ian, and it was great to meet Ian, and what a great career he's had and a great ambassador to golf. And of course Lorena is one of my favorite people of all time, and Davis, we go way back. He played the mixed team, and I've known Davis for a long time. It really was a fun two days to be with everybody, and how we all came to be in the World Golf Hall of Fame in totally different routes.
Lorena's last win was at 28. My second win was at 28. So you talk about two totally different paths to get there.
But just, you know, I've been to the World Golf Hall of Fame about four or five times watching my friends get in, and it's changed even more for the better. There was a lot of changes you guys made, and it's really a beautiful place.
But it was fun walking around and seeing the museum, and Lorena being so young, I felt like I was kind of showing her the history of golf. I said, Lorena, how many Vare Trophies did you win? She said, I won four. I said, well, there's Glenna Collett-Vare. And she goes, who's that? I said, Vare Trophy, that's the woman that you played for. So it was fun. It was fun to walk with her and go -- kind of talk to her about Joyce Wethered and all these famous women. So she's promised me that she will watch the Founders film and that she will read Louise Suggs' book before the World Golf Hall of Fame. She's up for it.
Q. What goes in the locker?
MEG MALLON: In my locker? I'll tell you, Juli Inkster's locker is the weakest locker I have ever seen, by the way, and Betsy King's is the coolest one I've ever seen. I have to say, I got chills, Betsy, when I walked around the corner and I saw that, I literally got chills. Well, it's so you, too, Juli.
It'll be pretty sports themed probably. I'm thinking about it. It's going to be some interesting things in there. It's a tough thing to do, to think about, what to put in there.
MIKE WHAN: Juli, the pressure is on now.
MEG MALLON: They made me say that, by the way.
Q. Meg, the first time Juli told me you were retiring was in 2003. What would you say about your longevity and playing as long as you did?
MEG MALLON: You know, it's funny, all of -- Kay, I traveled with Kay the first six years on Tour. We were like, we're not going to play after 30. And then when you get to 30, you're like, what else can I do that's more fun and better than this. And so when I hear the players say, we're not going to play past 30, I think they mean it a little more maybe because the travel is so much more extensive.
But I felt like I was catching up. Like I said, I didn't win until I was 27, so I thought I played my best golf in my 30s and early 40s, which was incredibly rewarding, to have a career to be able to last that long and be able to stay out there that long. I thought it was a blast.
You know, and Juli is proof that you can also have a family and be on Tour. I think -- I don't know, Juli, at one point we had like 25 to 30 kids in daycare. It wasn't unusual to have players be out here raising a family. It seems to be a little different now.
But I would hope that they look at it as a career to stay out here and play because it is -- there's nothing better. I loved it out here. It was a blast.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports