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May 29, 2019
Charleston, South Carolina
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the media center here at the 74th U.S. Women's Open here at the Country Club of Charleston. I am joined by golf royalty here to my left, more than 75 U.S. Women's Open appearances and six victories among the three to my left. Let me introduce them individually.
We have, to my immediate left, Hollis Stacy, three-time U.S. Women's Open champion, 1977, 1978, and 1984.
In the middle is Miss Sandra Palmer, the 1975 U.S. Women's Open champion.
And to my far left is Meg Mallon, 1991 and 2004 U.S. Women's Open champion. Thank you all so much for being here.
First, I want to get some of your memories from your experiences in the U.S. Women's Open, and specifically with some of your victories you've had over the years.
Hollis, we'll start with you.
HOLLIS STACY: Probably my most memorable memories were my last open, Salem Country Club. I was five strokes out, teeing off the final day, and I immediately doubled the 2nd hole. So then I went to seven out.
And then I said, well, here we go. And then I started swinging -- you know, going for it, and I played 7 under after that.
I ended up getting a little help from the last group. Amy doubled, and then Rosie bogeyed, and then I finished four groups ahead of them, and then I won. It was just never giving up, and it was a week like this. It was very hot in Salem, and I kept hydrated and kept calm. You know, that's when you win.
SANDRA PALMER: Right.
HOLLIS STACY: You don't think those evil thoughts, and you forgive yourself. That was one of my great wins.
THE MODERATOR: Being a three-time champion, pretty amazing. Tied for third all time is simply incredible.
Sandra, how about you from 1975?
SANDRA PALMER: Sandra Palmer. Well, '75, you realize I have seen every one of their victories, except when you were a junior, but I was there to witness it.
My memory of Atlantic City Country Club, it was a very unlikely place for me to win because it was a very long golf course. We'd had a lot of rain, and what I remember about some of that is I was staying on the practice -- you weren't around, I don't think.
MEG MALLON: I was 12.
SANDRA PALMER: Well, right now there's probably a 12-year-old out here playing.
MEG MALLON: That's exactly right.
SANDRA PALMER: There were little cottages on the practice tee, and it was raining like heck. I looked out, and there was one person out practicing, and she had a caddie, and he had the umbrella over her, and I thought, by darn, if she can do it, I can get my fanny out there too, and it was Patty Berg.
So I started out with 78, 76, 74, and then I had a 72.
MEG MALLON: Tough Open.
SANDRA PALMER: I stayed long enough to improve every day. That particular tournament, JoAnne Carner finished second, and there was a young lady 16 years old that finished second. Anybody want to guess who it was?
HOLLIS STACY: Nancy.
SANDRA PALMER: Nancy Lopez. So I treasure very much being a past Open champion, and it's always a thrill to come back to this event and see all these wonderful players that are here.
THE MODERATOR: Sandra, you treasure it so much, you actually brought a little something from your house.
SANDRA PALMER: I do. I have a little surprise. While I don't normally do this --
HOLLIS STACY: Ball marker?
SANDRA PALMER: Yeah, it's a ball marker. In case any of you would like to hold it, I'll let you. It's like being in the Olympics. I had a special friend that he had this encased in 24 karat gold, and I just think it's a beautiful piece, and I'll always treasure this. It's very heavy. Hope you didn't mind my bringing it to share it with you, but I'm very, very proud of it. I need to look at it a little more often to get my heart going again.
I get very excited coming to the U.S. Open. I appreciate being invited this week.
THE MODERATOR: That is the ultimate jewel in the necklace there, the 1975 U.S. Women's Open gold medal for winning that championship.
Meg, two wins for you at two very different times in your career.
MEG MALLON: I was going to say, they couldn't have been more different. I was young -- youngish at the game at Colonial. I had just won the Major two weeks prior, so I was pretty exhausted coming into Colonial. You think it was hot here, it was 105 at Colonial. They had to put ice on the greens. They had to put fans behind the holes. It was just like this, but so hot. So it was an exhausting week.
I had made two double bogeys, I think, on Friday and Saturday. And I'm like, you know, you can't win an Open making double bogeys. So my expectations were pretty low, but the scores were pretty high. I actually had the tee time that was about an hour before the last tee time on Sunday and just went out and had the round of my life on Sunday.
Like Hollis, I had to wait to see if I was going to win, but I was the only player under par at 1 under and ended up winning. It was great because my parents were there. You always love it when you can share it with your family. They were not able to be at the first Major, so it was just a treat to share that with my parents.
Thirteen years later, after having two heartbreak second place finishes in the U.S. Open and I'm 41 years old and playing in Western Massachusetts -- I was born in Boston, so it was fun having family come out, and my brothers and sisters were all there.
It was a shootout. It was Sunday. Jen Rosales had a three-shot lead. I was in the last group with her. I knew it was going to be tough for her because she never had a lead in an Open. The two people I was worried about that were in front of me were Kelly Robbins and Annika Sorenstam. They were going to come out shooting.
Sure enough, I think Annika shot 68, Kelly shot 69, and I shot 65 that day on a Sunday. It was a very different atmosphere that day. It was great fun to play in it and very gratifying to get that win after two heartbreaking losses.
THE MODERATOR: Two amazing final rounds in both your victories.
Now, you have all been out walking and talking with some of the players this week during the practice rounds. What have you heard from them, and maybe what's impressed you the most from what you've seen and what you've heard?
Hollis, we'll start with you.
HOLLIS STACY: Well, it makes me nervous when they say it does not seem that tough because usually, you know, when that happens, the USGA will come in, and they will put the pins in very difficult positions.
MEG MALLON: They might be on the green.
HOLLIS STACY: They might be on the green, yeah. But this is a second shot golf course. If I were to handicap, I would say it would be a mid-length player that hits a lot of greens in regulation and the putting stats are good.
MEG MALLON: I feel like you're talking about Inbee Park.
SANDRA PALMER: That would be one.
HOLLIS STACY: Inbee Park. I like Nelly Korda, and I like Lydia Ko. Those are my picks.
SANDRA PALMER: These golf swings are amazing now. You don't see one poor swing out there. They're just incredible athletes. To me, it's going to be someone that -- we know the heat's going to be a factor.
MEG MALLON: It is.
SANDRA PALMER: So somebody that's very consistent. I wouldn't bet against Inbee Park for sure.
MEG MALLON: I actually think it favors the Europeans. All the Europeans I've talked to love this golf course. It feels like what they played at home. The creativity around the greens, I think, fits into the style of play.
But, again, the heat's going to be a lot. That might hurt the Europeans a little bit because a lot of them aren't used to that heat, but a lot of them also play over here so they can get used to it.
I agree with Hollis. They're saying, it's wide off the tee. It's like okay. I can't wait to see, once that tee time goes up on Thursday morning, how difficult that course is going to be.
Even if there are players shooting under par, I think the best players are going to separate themselves because it is a second shot golf course. So if you've got control of the golf ball in your mid-iron play, you can play really well here for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up to questions.
Q. Meg, for years I've seen you after events, Junior Am, handing out water to kids. Is it, number one, surreal that the U.S. Women's Open is here; and, number two, a bit surreal that some of the kids you handed water out to are now in the field?
MEG MALLON: They're here, I know. Exactly. Remember that poor boy from Pittsburgh that had never been in heat like this? In August, because Beth's event is in August, the humidity is even worse at that time. It was hot. So that was fun to go through.
It's great to have this event here, have a U.S. Women's Amateur here, and a wonderful venue. Great Seth Raynor design. I think it's so fantastic they're showcasing not only Country Club of Charleston but the city of Charleston. I think everybody is going to have a great time this week.
Q. This is for all three of you. Did you ever think you'd see a $1 million first prize?
MEG MALLON: Yes, about 20 years ago. But, no, it's great. It's fantastic what the USGA has done for women's golf because they've made everybody else step up their game on our tour, which rightfully so for the women, they deserve that, and it's going to be awesome to see that check handed out on Sunday.
SANDRA PALMER: I'd like to give a little credit to Judy Bell.
MEG MALLON: There you go.
SANDRA PALMER: Because he was pushing for that $1 million purse. Anybody know how much I won?
HOLLIS STACY: What was it?
SANDRA PALMER: I don't think it was $8,000. It was $7,777.87. Now, wouldn't you think they would have given me that other --
MEG MALLON: Was it your first one was $11,000, I think?
HOLLIS STACY: I don't remember. Was it $11,000?
MEG MALLON: I think it was $11,000.
HOLLIS STACY: My last one was around $27,000, $30,000, something like that.
SANDRA PALMER: But I have this, and it's more important than the money, believe me.
MEG MALLON: That's right.
HOLLIS STACY: But it's great. The million dollar purse, it's great for golf. The USGA made a brave, great business decision in going with Fox. Fox generated the dollars for them, where they could bring us, and it's been wonderful being with -- we still call them kids, with the kids, you know. It's nice to touch base with our friends on the LPGA and the European Tour and the JLPGA.
I have a great history with the USGA. I was on the USGA Junior Girls Committee for about ten years. My mom was on the Women's Committee and the Junior Committee, and so --
SANDRA PALMER: That's why we call you Miss USGA.
HOLLIS STACY: I know. They always ask me for rulings. But it's always great being here. I love it.
And I think that's why all of us played so well in USGA championships is that we look at the USGA as friends. We weren't -- I mean, we weren't really that intimidated. We always thought of the USGA as friends in the game of golf.
Q. All three of you, hello. Meg, you joked, sort of, about 20 years ago a $1 million purse would have been nice.
Hollis, you turned pro in the wake of Title IX. Has the move toward greater purses and just more equality in women's golf been slower than you thought it might?
HOLLIS STACY: Well, unfortunately, a lot of colleges use Title IX as the cheapest way to be legal for Title IX, because women have golf clubs and there are already golf courses. So I go out, and whoever I see now, I tell them, you are going to go four years to college, aren't you? And most of them do. Most of them do.
It's getting better, but I would love to see the universities give more scholarships to American golfers because we're the taxpayers, we're paying. I personally want to see that.
MEG MALLON: You can go out and buy that scholarship now, apparently.
HOLLIS STACY: Oh, you can buy it for $6 million.
SANDRA PALMER: And then go to jail.
MEG MALLON: And not even be on the golf team.
SANDRA PALMER: They're going to jail. They don't play golf.
MEG MALLON: No.
HOLLIS STACY: I know. What do you think?
MEG MALLON: About Title IX? I was a Title IX baby. I was lucky. Actually, the year of Title IX, I got to be in Little League baseball for the very first year, and I was drafted second by the Indians. I was a pretty good player. But I didn't want to pitch because that ball was coming back too fast at me, so I played second base.
Title IX helped me a lot in sports, and I went to an all girls Catholic high school. I was recruited to play basketball there. That's because of Title IX.
I went to college, I walked on at Ohio State. I earned a scholarship. That was because of Title IX. I know, just like anything else, it needs to be tweaked now because of the way it's being used, but it can't go away for women, I can tell you that.
HOLLIS STACY: It has been good for -- it's been great for women. You didn't have Title IX.
SANDRA PALMER: I grew up in a completely different thing, obviously. It's hard to believe that there are only two founders that are alive now, which is Shirley Spork and Marlene Bauer Hegge.
I didn't play with Babe, and Patty Berg had retired and Mickey Wright, who I think is one of the all time great, great, greats.
MEG MALLON: Hands down.
SANDRA PALMER: Hands down. But she was a tall woman for then. I started in the summer of 1964, and she always, I think, felt a little uncomfortable about her size. Boy, you look at them now.
MEG MALLON: You celebrate it, right? The taller, the better.
SANDRA PALMER: She's the short one now. But I'm in awe of these players and what it takes to be on the Tour. It's a lot of dedication. It isn't something that you can buy. I'm trying to buy a game with equipment. That's what has changed so much. But they're in such fine shape, and the equipment's helped women's golf for sure.
THE MODERATOR: With your great history and experience in this championship, if one of the players in the field asked each one of you for one piece of advice before they took the tee on Thursday, what would you say to them?
Hollis, we'll start with you.
HOLLIS STACY: Well, I'd say two things. The driver is probably the most important club in the bag. And with the driver, somehow there's a correlation. If you're driving it well, you putt it well, right?
And then the second is to be the most forgiving of yourself when you make your boo-boos because this is the week that the more you dig yourself in a little hole, the more energy it takes to climb out of it.
So I'd just say be forgiving. I know it's hard, but we say some terrible things to ourselves. This week, give yourself a pass.
SANDRA PALMER: I'd say play one shot at a time and try to get into contention and then see what happens.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, I'd just say it's just going to be long, hot days. So just be very patient with the process. Bogeys are fine in an Open, and on this course, you can recover a little bit. I think there are a lot of birdies out there that can happen.
So the patience factor. And, when it's so hot too, they forget to eat and forget to get hydration, and the player that's most responsible about that is going to be there on Sunday with the strongest constitution, let's say, to play on Sunday.
Q. The Augusta National Women's Am seemed to be a big hit. At the professional level, do you guys think that men's golf does enough for women's golf, and could you ever see or would you like to see a situation where there's -- I know it would be logistically difficult -- but a combined men's and women's U.S. Open?
SANDRA PALMER: What do you mean by combined?
Q. Play the same event the same week or the same couple weeks.
MEG MALLON: Like they did at Pinehurst.
SANDRA PALMER: I don't know about the same week.
MEG MALLON: Back-to-back weeks?
SANDRA PALMER: Back-to-back weeks would be okay. I went to the Open when Michelle Wie won after the next week. Boy, what a completely different venue setup for the men, but they really draw the crowds, and a lot of people stayed.
I don't know, it's pretty hard on the volunteers to have two, right, two weeks in a row. But anything we can do to draw more attention to women's golf, I'm certainly for it.
MEG MALLON: As far as the men helping the women, honestly, we're competitive Tours. We're competing for sponsors, so we're really not -- even though we're in golf, we're actually competing against each other.
You frankly could say we helped the PGA TOUR get introduced into Asia because of our success in Asia. So they have a big thank you to us for that. We'd like to see some reciprocal coming back on the other side of that.
The tournament I miss the most is the mixed team that we play with the PGA TOUR. Tim Finchum got rid of it and made it a PGA TOUR event. That was a great event for the men and women to play together in a team event like that. We had so much fun in that event. You played in it.
SANDRA PALMER: One of my big thrills, I played with Arnold Palmer twice. So that was fun.
MEG MALLON: So those kind of events, where the men and women are together the same week would be really helpful to us because it would give the women a lot more exposure, playing alongside the men in something like that. I think that's more of an event that would be more helpful for us.
SANDRA PALMER: Work on that, will you?
HOLLIS STACY: And I think I would prefer seeing the Augusta event not in competition with our Major. It took away from our Major. I would prefer it being after. I mean, it was great for women's golf, but my dedication is to women's golf and to the LPGA as well. I just don't want to see them get hurt.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, Hollis is right. It was a great event for showcasing the women's game, but it hurt the LPGA Tour.
THE MODERATOR: I just want to thank our panelists so much. Hollis, Sandra, Meg, thank you so much.
MEG MALLON: Thank you for having us. Enjoy the week. Stay cool.
SANDRA PALMER: Anybody want to touch this?
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports