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August 14, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Welcome to the 2013 Solheim Cup here at Colorado Golf Club. Pleasure to be joined with Meg Mallon, the captain for the UnitedStates. Great to see you.
MEG MALLON: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You're all smiles yet again. Things are good. Maybe that's because it's morning.
MEG MALLON: Yeah, I finally got some sleep last night. I feel good. We got all the groups off and for their practice rounds today and it's a little quiet right now. It's kind of nice.
THE MODERATOR: I know the pairings are difficult when you get playing going Friday, Saturday, Sunday, etc...is it tough to figure these things out earlier in the week when it's just practice rounds?
MEG MALLON: It is, but it isn't as tough as it would have been if I hadn't brought players in before this week. I think we have got a good idea of what our pairings are going to be and who is going to play with who and the biggest challenge for us.
And this is a challenge of being in Colorado is you not only have the altitude and adrenaline, but with the alternate shot you have a golf ball issue. So working through those things the last couple of days and last week, it's been very helpful and so everybody's on board with it right now.
THE MODERATOR: Altitude or golf ball, which one's bigger.
MEG MALLON: Well, you can't separate them. Because you could have a golf ball that's two to three yards difference, add the altitude, Jessica Korda probably is closer to a 12 percent, Morgan Pressel would be about an 8 percent. Stacy Lewis would be a 10 percent. So everyone's different. They have to figure out their altitude. And then you throw a different golf ball in there and their brains are working pretty hard right now.
THE MODERATOR: Remind me to ask you about pace of play in just a little bit; about all those different things. One more question from me, eight appearances as a player and now this. Now this week in particular. So now this over the last year and a half, and now this week. How is it different?
MEG MALLON: It's completely different. It's ‑‑ when it's just yourself you're worried about the golf course, your partners, your just playing golf.
For this, this has been a two year process of planning for 12 people. And it's been amazing experience and I want everything to slow down this week right now, because you've waited so long for it and I just want to take it all in.
But everything's going really well so far. Colorado Golf Club has done a great job for us, the staff, so we're ready to go.
THE MODERATOR: You're saying all the right things, come on, there's got to be a little stress here. You're smiling. Either you're putting on a great front or you're the calmest captain I've ever seen.
MEG MALLON: If you talked to me yesterday after no sleep the night before, it would have been different. I think getting some sleep has helped. My players are great. They don't stay up late. They want to get to bed early. So that helps the captain too. So it's a good bunch of kids and they have been really fun to be around.
THE MODERATOR: Let's take some questions.
Q. Two questions, the first is, I know you're a huge sports fan. How much are you into advance statistics, because I was talking to Dottie earlier about how thick the book of stats was that you have been studying. So that's the first question and then the second is, how much of other captain's philosophies and personalities or whatever you tried to incorporate or have you tried to just sort of do completely your own thing?
MEG MALLON: Well, to answer the first question about stats, we definitely had poured over a lot of stats. I think it's very helpful to look at stats. Birdies per round, where they are in putting. Things like that for match play.
Match play is a different deal. You could have a player that makes five, six birdies around, that's sheeting even par whatever. That's a good match play person to have on your team. So just the stats were very helpful.
I got a great suggestion from actually Curtis Strange last week that said, you always trusted your gut and your instincts when you played golf. You should do the same thing as a captain. And that was excellent advice because it was exactly what happened to me on Sunday when I made the picks.
I had all these stats in front of me, but it really came down to my instincts. So there's a little bit of that. As far as the captains I've had, I've had great captains. I have talked to all of them. I've learned from them when I played with them and they have been wonderful in helping me, for sure.
Q. You've got along association with this golf club and when it started. How much does that give you a sort of feel good factor going into this tournament?
MEG MALLON: Yes, I do. My teacher Mike McGetrick was one of the original founders of the Colorado Golf Club. So I was out here with him before there was even a hole put in the ground. He would, we would be‑‑ he was teaching me over at Meridian and he said I'm going to build a golf course on that hill over there and I'm like, yeah, Mike, what's the position in the back?
So he drove me over here and we drove around the property and as you can see, it's a beautiful piece of property. And what Crenshaw and Coore did to this place is exceptional. And really I think it's going to shine in match play. The risk/reward out there is just great.
So it's fun for me to be here and be a part of this place since I've been here since the origins of it. So it's exciting for me. I have Mike back here for the week. He's one of my helpers and so it's going to be good to have him around.
THE MODERATOR: I want to get back to your gut instinct and I want to give you the floor. Obviously there was a lot of chatter about your selections as with any captain making their picks; you're second guess or you're lauded for great selection.
Let's go one by one. Gerina has already been in here, Michelle is going to come in as well. Let's start with Michelle Wie. Because obviously she was kind of a lightning rod for debate or questioning. Why?
MEG MALLON: Well, let me go back. I'm glad I stayed consistent with the comments I made when they asked me about my captains picks long ago and I said, if you don't make the team on points, then don't expect to be on the team. And captains picks are the captains picks, it's who you want to fit in with the 10 players that you have.
And I also had said being a captain's pick ‑‑it's tough being a captain's pick. There's a lot of pressure that that player puts on themselves being a pick.
So Michelle Wie for me was a no‑brainer in that position. Looking at the list that I had, she has Solheim Cup experience. She lives on this stage almost every day that she plays. So walking into this environment is not going to affect her.
I needed another player like that on the team. I had three rookies already. So ‑‑ and like I said earlier, do I want five to six birdies a day at home sitting on the couch? So for me that was a pretty easy decision to pick Michelle.
Gerina was my instinct. That was, that was‑‑ that came from my gut, really. I watched her play so much this year, she's a super talented player. The only thing I was worried about her was a lack of experience. All the reasons why I picked Michelle, Gerina was that factor of how will she handle it here?
She has a great support network and some of her best friends are on this team. So I knew that she was going to be taken care of for the week. She's having a blast this week by the way. The smile has not left her face.
THE MODERATOR: It showed yesterday here.
MEG MALLON: Yeah. Yeah. And the golf course. She hits the ball a long way and she hits it straight. This golf course is perfect for that.
Her attitude, her game, she‑‑ the way she grinded it out coming in those last few tournaments, the way she grinded it out at the British Open, it just showed me a lot. So that was really a gut instinct move for me on Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: Follow‑up on that, team room was brought up by Gerina and also by Lizette and so the two players that you picked, it seems like just speculation on my part, you don't have to force anything, they're going to fit right in. Was that also something that went into personality play?
MEG MALLON: First of all, just the fact of the team chemistry. It definitely helped in team chemistry. But performance is big. Gerina, let's hope that she performs the way I think she's going to perform.
She's a late bloomer in the game, she's a great athlete. She played all‑state high school volleyball player. She learned the game at 15. But the way she's improved and how she's played I think you guys are going to be really surprised at this game you're going to see.
Q. When you decided to bring Dottie and Laura together as assistants, somewhat risky and bold move. Can you tell us why that was important to you and how it's worked out.
MEG MALLON: Well, when I got the call from Commissioner Mike Whan about being captain, the first thing you start thinking about is who you want to surround you. You have to look at what you're weaknesses are.
I am not the most media, not media savvy, but social media savvy person. As far as being in tune to all of that and organized. The first person I thought of was Dottie Pepper. I mean she is, as anybody that knows her, is just an uber organized human being. So when I started thinking about Dottie and thinking about her being by my side, we spent our whole careers together. We played on Solheim Cups together. We have a great rapport with each other.
So then I had to go kind of backwards and work out how we're going to get her back into the followed in the Solheim Cup.
Really all the phone calls that I made a long the way ‑‑and I had talked to Dottie pretty soon about it, to feel how she felt about it. Because she also had to step back into that place of what happened in 2007 and whether she wanted to go through that again. And she was on board right away. It was an emotional moment for her, but then it was making some key phone calls to people that I needed to talk to about it.
The best response I got from everyone that I talked to is we trust you, Meg, and we know you'll do the right thing. And I really appreciated that, because it just made it that much easier to go forward with everything else.
Laura Diaz, I needed a player that was playing on tour that was in tune to the players. I wasn't out on tour any more, although I played probably with nine of these players. So I needed someone out there who was playing with them, Laura has been has been on four Solheim Cups, and she's so passionate about the event. That was a touchy thing because I knew she wanted to make the team.
So I felt like she was a person that could also be a playing assistant captain at that point. And as far as Laura and Dottie coming together‑‑ Laura and Dottie have been friends since Laura was 10 or 12 years old. So that was an easy reunion to make that. The families are close, and it was really kind of a neat thing to see that come back together.
Q. Can you go back and talk about Michelle and what you maybe talked with her about this week and about the course and how to approach it and then also a quick follow‑up on that, how will you schedule tomorrow's practice round?
MEG MALLON: Actually today and tomorrow I've got a lot of my players just playing nine holes. This is a hard‑‑ this golf course is a little‑‑ it's a hard walking golf course and with the altitude and everything, and also all the activities that are going on this week.
That was also important for me to have them come for their practice sessions early because I knew that they would be exhausted this week itself would be exhausting.
So most of them are probably only playing nine holes tomorrow, just to go over maybe some things with their partners or some things on the golf course that they want to go over. So it's more important for them to be rested for Friday.
Q. You were talking about the sort of tangible things that Dottie brings. I want to know if it was in your mind at all when you‑‑ that wasn't an easy thing to embark upon, I'm sure, that maybe it was just time to bring somebody with that much history and love for this back into it. Was that part of your thinking to try to get things back on line?
MEG MALLON: Well, I just thought it was important for Dottie to be back involved with the Solheim Cup. Arguably she was the face of the Solheim Cup in the '90s. And I was on all those teams with her. And not being a part of it for her it wasn't right. And for the reasons too. I mean honestly, what happened, it was definitely a mountain out of a molehill.
So ‑‑ and it just, people just needed to talk. And that's all I did was just facilitate that. Where they were coming from on either side. It was, for me, seven years later, I thought it was silly that it was still going on. So it just, it was just a matter of getting them to come together and say, you know, listen, that was silly, let's move on. And it's been easy to move on from that.
So I'm happy that's happened. I wasn't surprised that it has, and it's good to have her around.
THE MODERATOR: You've got two capable assistants, obviously, that you're leaning on this week and have been for the last year and a half basically, not to play favorites here, but are there two players on your team that you've really leaned on for counsel, advice, and that you really need this week, not just to step up as competitors but leaders.
MEG MALLON: Absolutely. I, well, Stacy Lewis has come out here and played this course, I don't know, she's come on five or six, six or seven visits, I think, before this week. That leadership in itself is invaluable to me. If your No. 1 player is coming out here to get that prepared, then everyone else is looking at that.
I definitely talked to my players that have been on multiple Solheim Cup teams and I've expect their leadership. The younger players look up to them, not only on tour, but now they're in a team environment and I'm relying on them. Every action they make this week, the younger players are watching that. And I reminded them of that. So they're very aware of it an and they're ready to take that leadership role.
THE MODERATOR: Player nerves for sure, right? That's been talked about in here over the last day and a half. What about captain's nerves? In all honesty, you are coming off a loss, not that you were the captain for that Solheim Cup.
MEG MALLON: I was there though.
THE MODERATOR: You were there. And now you've also come into a situation where everybody is going to be talking about the fact that the UnitedStates has never lost here. So there's a pressure on two fronts. How do you deal with that and how are you sleeping at night? You said you got good rest last night.
MEG MALLON: I did. I never look at it as pressure. Even in my career I always look at it as an opportunity. And this is an opportunity for this team to shine in front of their home fans. And to get the cup back.
Most of them were on the Ireland team, they didn't like that taste in their mouths and it actually helped me as a captain, because they're going to remember that loss and take care of business this week.
Q. Could you just put in one sentence what each of the three of you brings to the team, your strengths.
MEG MALLON: One sentence?
Q. Well two is fine.
MEG MALLON: Laura Diaz brings a fire and passion to this event. She's played in four of them. She loves this event more than any she's ever played in, nil other event she's ever played. And we had a meeting last night, I'm going to go more than two, and it was at dinner last night and Laura got very, very emotional in front of the team. And for my younger players to see that, I think they can see what this event brings out in people. So Laura, they call her the den mother of the team. She takes care of them like a mom.
Dottie Pepper brings great wisdom, experience, and unbelievable energy and passion to this team.
THE MODERATOR: What about Meg Mallon?
MEG MALLON: Hopefully, they will see the love I have for this event. They're going to see a captain that is going to be behind them 100 percent. And I believe in them all of them all 12 of them. And I just really love these players.
THE MODERATOR: They love you. They talked about it yesterday. They also love their team room. And they love the rooms. We have seen pictures tweeted out of these beds that they have got, with the pillow in front and the name. And then I know about the team room with the corn hole and the basketball. What have you got going in there.
MEG MALLON: Well, I wanted a place for them to be able to kind of let loose in energy. I got some young players on this team and they got a lot of energy in them. And a place for them and their families to be there with them to just kind of let loose a little bit. And it's a great room. I mean, the TV video screen is just huge. We're playing videos on it. And we actually haven't been there enough. I'm looking forward to us spending more time in there Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So that they can really bond as a team.
THE MODERATOR: Formats. 13‑9‑7 for you in your Solheim Cup. Friday begins with alternate shot or foursomes. Is that a great thing? Do you think that's a great way to start this thing off.
MEG MALLON: It's tough. I know in 2009 we started with best ball. And that helped the captains a lot, because then you could see all four players, or all two players in each group and how they were playing. And then you can make a decision about alternate shot.
With alternate shot, it's tough. If you're not playing, one if one player is not playing well, you may not know who it is that's struggling. So it's definitely a difficult way to start.
The things I talked about earlier that people forget that it's not only altitude, adrenaline, it's, they may be using a different golf ball. So there's so many factors involved with the foursomes lineup. It's going to be pretty exciting to watch that Friday morning.
THE MODERATOR: Two more questions. One, 25 years of experience or 25 cups for the American team, 17 for the European team, so there's a suggestion there if you go by numbers and talk about pouring over stats and all that, that U.S. have the more experienced squad. Does that mean a lick when you get to the first tee?
MEG MALLON: I played on the very first win for the Europeans in 1992. And we were heavy, heavy favorites. We had, maybe, eight Hall of Famers now on that team or something. And we got beat. And we were beaten by a young team that the American media didn't know probably eight of those players on the team. Now they're all very famous players for Europe.
That's the thing I got to remind my team of. Underdog is very scary. The player that doesn't know anything is very scary. So we have to pay attention to that. We have to be aware that in match play it's anyone's day. And so that's going to be my job the next couple of days, to make sure that we take care of our business out there and know that they have a really young team, and they have nothing to lose.
THE MODERATOR: You're an emotional person, you have a love for the Solheim Cup, it's come out over the last couple of years. I don't want to steal anything from your speech tomorrow at the opening ceremonies, but I'm going to leave everybody with this, I know this is a team game, end this sentence for me: This week is a success for me if, blank.
MEG MALLON: You know, the Solheim Cup, the women's golf always wins. And that's what I love about this event is that it show cases our greatest players playing the best golf they have ever played in their life.
THE MODERATOR: Very well said politically. Ladies and gentlemen, Meg Mallon, captain of the UnitedStates of the thanks for being here. Thank you.
MEG MALLON: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports