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November 17, 2004

Meg Mallon


THE MODERATOR: Meg, thanks for joining us. Defending champion. I know last week was tough. You had to withdraw last week because of your back injury. We're glad you're here. If you want to talk a little about how you feel coming in this week.

MEG MALLON: Well, 'unprepared' is probably the key word, which is a difficult thing for me. I'm not used to doing that.

But for me it's just going to be mentally how I handle it going tomorrow because I haven't this is my first 18 holes in a month. My back held up well today. Hopefully that will be a good indication for the rest of the week.

I've never had anything like that happen to me, so now it's more mentally than anything because you remember that pain. I don't know if anybody's ever had their back go out, but you'll never forget that pain. So for me I have to get through that cause, you know, I got to go ahead and swing the golf club and not worry about it. I think it will be my biggest issue tomorrow.

But, you know, otherwise everything's been going great. I'm looking forward to playing the tournament. I'm just happy to be playing, considering I had to drop out of two events, which was really disappointing for me, especially not playing in the Three Tour Challenge. I don't get that opportunity. You get that maybe once in a career. So that was really disappointed to have to do that.

Right now I'm just thankful to just be back playing golf again.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Yeah, actually what came out of this, the guy I've been working with down in Delray Beach, his name is Ray Cawley (phonetic). He's been a therapist for 33 years, a physical therapist. He said the good news was nothing was structural. He said it was I was actually an accident waiting to happen because my muscle structure from my hip flexors to my abdominals all the up to my neck were just wrapped around each other. He said that's wear and tear from golf for years and years and years. It just is bound to happen, and my back is what fell apart, I guess.

But he said what's going to happen to me is my flexibility is going to be so much better than what it has been in a really long time, which was really encouraging to hear that, because I have felt like my, you know, swing and my exercise routine and everything else is just taking me so long to get ready for me to play a round of golf.

These last two days, I have noticed, you know, especially in my trunk flexibility, it's so much easier. So that's going to be actually, I'm excited about that. I'm excited about next year for that, that I'm going to have that back. Because I've always felt, you know, it just takes me so long to get ready to play a round of golf every morning, and this was the reason why. I had had this problem for a long time and didn't know it, until finally something broke down.

So I'm actually really kind of excited. Out of a bad thing, hopefully a really good thing is going to come out of it.

Q. When did it actually happen?

MEG MALLON: Well, I just woke up with a sore back, which is no big deal. Usually I can work it out throughout the day. I was practicing at Pine Tree. Went out to play. I got to the 3rd hole, just didn't feel right. I went home. You know, it's just one of those things. I went to get something out of the backseat of the car and just locked up and went down.

It feels like someone shot you. I mean, that's what it felt like, that kind of pain. I couldn't bend over. I couldn't lay down. I couldn't sit down. I had a therapist, actually my pilates instructor, who is a PT, it was a Friday, so you can't get ahold of a doctor on a Friday night, and he came over with all his equipment. He actually got me to where I could at least lay down.

But it was a really long, painful weekend until I got to this guy on Monday, two weeks ago, right? I guess the 5th of November is when it happened.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Yeah, I know (laughter).

So, you know, as I am, hopefully keep a positive frame, you know, hopefully this is a good thing that will come out of this.

Q. Is winning more in the back of your mind than it would normally be because of the injury?

MEG MALLON: Is winning?

Q. Do you think less about winning this week than just getting through it?

MEG MALLON: Yeah, talk about your expectations changing or just having perspective, which it's good for me. You know, I will keep it I will be very grateful for teeing off tomorrow. I will be very grateful for getting through a round of golf without having my back go out. But then also I need to get myself mentally saying, "You know, you need to be competitive, too." Hopefully that will come all into play tomorrow.

Q. Can you just look back at this year, all the success you've had?

MEG MALLON: Yeah. Well, actually you just look at the five week stretch is more like it. It's hard to call it a year. I was playing okay, and then, you know, as they say, you peak at the right time. The meat of our schedule is obviously June, July and August. You know, to have my game peak like that starting at the US Open and carry it over into the Canadian and then to the Jamie Farr Kroger, or Owens Corning Classic, sorry, you know, it was just a fantastic summer that way.

You know, US Open is my favorite event. I went in Toledo, which I grew up 45 minutes north of there, and I went to school two hours south of there, to college. So Toledo is a very special place for me. So it was a magical summer for me.

Q. Could you talk about next year, how maybe this year's success might affect your future goals?

MEG MALLON: Well, this tournament was a perfect example of that. You know, last year I felt like I'd had a frustrating year. I had two or three opportunities to win events and just didn't get it done. Here I come into this event, the last tournament of the year, have a chance, and you guys in the press room last year weren't giving me much of a chance on Saturday, because I think Annika had a two shot lead or three shot lead?

Q. Three shots.

MEG MALLON: That sounds even better. For whoever wasn't here last year, all these guys were like, "Well, Annika is going to win again," ta da, ta da. Just going in that last day, playing a round like that on Sunday, coming from behind, just really boosted my confidence going into the next year. Obviously, you know, I had a terrific year following that.

So, yeah, winning events like that definitely stays fresh in your mind for the next season. And our season is going to start sooner this year, which will be very helpful.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: You know, that's a good way to put it because I think I appreciate it so much more. I'm having a great career, and I've been winning, you know, pretty steadily throughout the last 12 years. But I think this year, the just the way everything transpired, I just have enjoyed it so much.

Although, you know, it's funny because, that's my golfing life and that was fantastic, but then you come home three weeks later and you fight two hurricanes, life just puts things in perspective right away. So the guys that were here, that was an incredible month for us Floridians, unbelievably humbling. It's not like you're floating around like, "I won the US Open." You've got to go find out where you can get two bags of ice, find out where your next meal is coming from, try to get through the armed guards at the FEMA line so you can get some water.

It was a very interesting year for me, I have to say. Then this little back thing has really kind of added to it from the whole 'perspective' issue.

Q. It's been an interesting year. Clearly players of all ages win tournaments every year, but this year you had yourself winning the tournament that Annika probably wanted to win more than any other, teenagers coming on the scene. Can you talk about the dichotomy there, what the future might hold?

MEG MALLON: Yeah, I'm relieved about that because the last few years I just felt like we weren't getting young players out there. You know, it was Juli and Rosie and Beth and myself. We were like, "Okay, when are the next group of young American players going to come along?" Then, boom, here is the US Open and we have all these teenagers playing. These guys are ready to compete.

I mean, Brittany Lincicome is leading the US Open and she's, what, 17, 18 years old. Paula Creamer, who wants to beat everybody in the field, she doesn't care how old they are, what they have done. So you're finally seeing players that are coming out that are ready to play. So it's very encouraging.

I was heartened to see that at the US Open this year, to have a nice mix of players, you know, the veterans that were playing well and then to have kind of the freshness of the youth coming in there and seeing, you know, whether they're going to turn pro or go to college or not, about you at least you know the next 10 years are in good hands.

Q. Do you have any thoughts particularly about Creamer, who obviously is in the finals of Q School?

MEG MALLON: In two weeks, right? Well, I don't want to put anything on her, but I think she should cruise right through. I just think they has the mental framework. But, you know, qualifying school is tough. It's tough to go through as a professional. You're defining your career in the next year of your life.

She's going in as an amateur, isn't she? Yeah, so she's keeping her option open there, which I think is a good idea. I would always encourage college for someone. But, you know, if Paula wants to turn pro, it's certainly her prerogative.

Q. Any thoughts on the Women's Open next year?

MEG MALLON: Cherry Hills?

Q. Not only that, but as we look ahead to the schedule Ty is going to announce tomorrow, two of your majors in a three week span.

MEG MALLON: Are we right after? Yeah, that's tough on you guys, isn't it (laughter)? I care about you guys. As long as you get parking and good food (laughter)? Just parking? I'll see if I can have that arranged at Cherry Hills.

No, I think hopefully it will be great for golf. I mean, it will keep the interest of golf going. In the summertime, I think it's harder on the USGA and the event organizers probably to have back to back Opens like that, but I don't think it will take anything away from the event.

Is that what you were asking?

Q. McDonald's, week off, another major.

MEG MALLON: That worked for me in '91. I won two majors in a three week span. Sure, you'd like to have them spread out just a little bit, but you're always at the mercy of scheduling and corporations, what weeks are good for them.

The USGA just plans their week. There's no negotiating. They just plan their week. So we have to kind of wait. Some tournaments can and some can't. Sometimes it happens that the majors get a little closer together.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Do they really? Do they actually play a major championship (laughter)? I love those guys. He said it; I didn't.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Definitely, yeah, I've been recognized a lot this year. That's funny. I think it's funny. Here I've been at it for a long time. I go around and get recognized a lot more. You know, the US Open's a big deal. I remember that the first time. People watch that event. People who wouldn't normally turn on a golf event, people want to see the US Open.

I thought it was a great finish. I mean, having Annika and Kelly Robbins and the golf was so good. You know, everyone had such a good feeling from that event. I think, you know, I've gotten so much more attention from that. It's been a lot of fun.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Sure, absolutely, yeah. The kind of golf she's playing, it's unbelievable. Everyone is talking about Vijay's year. I mean, she's done it for the last six years, what he's done this year.

My years on tour, I've seen great players, and Annika is one of them. But those great players always go through a downtime. She hasn't done that. That's what's so exceptional about what she's done, is she's maintained that level for this amount of time. That's why it makes it even more fun to beat her occasionally because you know it doesn't happen very often.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: I don't know. Betsy King has been retiring for 25 years (laughter). It's funny when golfers say that. You know, I came out here when I was 22 or 23 and said I won't be here past 30. It's like when you start thinking about what else you can do, there's nothing better than what we do, especially when you're still playing well.

So, I mean, I even expect Dottie to come back once her health gets back. I think that's all about her health. But I just think Annika is enjoying herself more now the last couple years than she was three or four years ago when she was saying she'd be done. I see her playing maybe a little bit longer than what she thinks she might.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Oh, if she like pared down her schedule? Well, I mean, it would. She's peaked interest. She's done a wonderful job. When she played at Colonial, she definitely raised the level of our game, the knowledge of our game, for sure. But, again, I started in the Nancy Lopez era, so there's always someone that I think is ready to take that place, jump right in there and do that.

Annika would be missed, but certainly we have so many great players that are ready to come up and take that challenge.

Q. Doug asked Annika earlier about Vijay finally overtaking Tiger. It hasn't happened yet on this tour. Do you think it's likely to happen?

MEG MALLON: Well, I think it's kind of like how Karrie's success motivated Annika, made her the player that she is. She did say that. You know, when Karrie had the years that she had, Annika said, "I want to do that, be better than that." She did that.

Lorena Ochoa is one of them. She's not afraid to state that she wants to be No. 1. So it takes a special player to do that. That's why they stand out. It would be nice to see Grace Park and Karrie even come back. I mean, Se Ri is struggling right now. It would be nice to see her come back. I know she wants to be No. 1.

I'd like to see them challenge Annika week in and week out like that and make it a little more competitive and interesting as far as that goes. I think they would like to get to that place, too. I know they have the ability to get to that place. But what Annika is doing is very special.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Well, again, I think Lorena Ochoa has that capability. I know she has the inner drive to do it and the confidence to do it. There's so many factors involved in being that type of player. She has a great work ethic. You know, I don't know. Michelle Wie is only 15. She's going to have her reign, I think, when she gets going.

I don't know. I mean, Annika was a very good player when she came out here. She wasn't a great player; she made herself a great player. There may be a player that will be ready to step up to do that.

Q. In terms of recognition this year, she won seven times on this tour, and everything else is falling into line. It almost seems like, "What else is new?" She's been doing it for three or four years.


Q. Do you think she's a little bit a victim of her own success in terms of recognition?

MEG MALLON: Not getting recognition? Yeah, absolutely. I don't think she is getting near the recognition she deserves. I mean, she had to go over to Colonial to even get to that first name basis. It wasn't what she did out here.

So, yeah, I think the American public is kind of a fickle public. They're funny. They love their winners, but then sometimes they also like the underdog and want to see someone beat that one that's winning all the time. It's just a funny field.

I think Annika's performance goes underrated more so than probably any other athlete.

Q. Karen Stupples, she's had a great few years. Can you talk about her? Could she be the Vijay?

MEG MALLON: Yeah, she could be. Karen, I mean, what a stretch she had there. We went head to head in Toledo. She's a very good player.

Yeah, she's one who went out and worked out, got herself physically fit, raised the level of her game, and then she got totally rewarded by winning the British Open, having the year that she did. I think she'll have a lot of years like that and will be very competitive.

She has a love of the game. You know players that love it out here and the to be out here and the to compete. You know players that are going through the motion. Karen's one of those players that wants to make herself better.

Q. Could you look ahead to next year, to the Solheim Cup.

MEG MALLON: Captain Lopez.

Q. I didn't say anything about that. What did you think about the men's version this year? Do you get a sense there's going to be extra pressure on you guys because the American public watches it, "Europe wins again."

MEG MALLON: We've defended our turf every time. We've beaten them once over there. Isn't that true (laughter)? That's going to be a lot on us 'cause our team, the LPGA US team is really big on winning here. It's very important to us because we have never lost here.

So, yeah, the pressure's going to come from within. I don't think anything that comes from outside would be any more than what we're going to put on ourselves, to perform well and keep it at home.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Absolutely. I do personally because I had my worst Solheim Cup by far. I played so poorly, you know, I was just so disappointed in myself. And usually I play well at Solheim Cups. It's my favorite event and I love it to death. I'm looking forward to hopefully coming back and having a much better Solheim Cup than the last time.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Kind of. You know, I caddied on that golf course as a kid, so I had a huge interest in that, Oakland Hills. I grew up a half a mile from Oakland Hills. Yeah, I was 14 years old, lasted about four weeks, I caddied at Oakland Hills. Best job I had, though.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Well, I did doubles. I don't know. It was a lot of money, though. What would it be, like $12 a bag, walking home about $25 to $30 in my pocket. That's pretty good.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Shut up! I know you're older than me, so you can't say that (laughter).

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: How about that? Well, she's my inspiration. I just know, I follow careers, I was on the Hall of Fame committee. I'm deeply interested in the history of our tour and know a lot about it. I know how careers go. I know you have to take advantage of when you're playing well. If I could do that, then I can meet those goals to get to that next level. That's what I'd like to do.

Certainly with this little health issue, that was kind of a little bit of a wake up call that there's some other things that I need to take care of in order to stay healthy to be able to play this kind of golf. I'm hopeful that I'll be a better player next year with all of this happening.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: You know, yeah, Annika. I always said if I were healthy and competitive, I would play golf. I had a shoulder injury in '97, took eight weeks off. And I know that's what Dottie's going through. "I'm never going to play like this if I can't swing a golf club." After I got myself healthy, I said, "As long as I'm healthy and competitive, I'll be out here playing. I'm not going to tag an age to it."

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: How old should I be? I don't think I'll make it to 50. I'm 41. Yeah, thanks (laughter). 1963 I was born.

Q. (No microphone.)

MEG MALLON: Thank you. I've been dragging the bags (laughter).

End of FastScripts.

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