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July 20, 2000

Meg Mallon


RHONDA GLENN: We have Meg Mallon with us. Just tell us a little bit about how you felt about your round today. I know you only missed one green and you made no bogeys. Tell us about how your game suited the golf course today.

MEG MALLON: Well, it was just to terrific to only miss two fairways and miss one green. Obviously, in the U.S. Open, that's a premium. And I took strong advantage of the times when I hit it close and certainly had other opportunities, but I didn't do anything very dumb today, which was good. Maybe the last hole, hitting it in the rough, short side of the green was not the brightest move, but at least I got up-and-down and got tested a little bit there. It was just a solid day. I started out this week with my teacher, hitting it sideways. So, to be able to come out today and hit all of those fairways and all of those greens was very rewarding after how hard we worked the last three days.

Q. You say you were hitting it sideways, but you won just last month, or five weeks ago now. What was going on with your swing that you were suddenly having to work on?

MEG MALLON: Well, I had played well, you know, from the time that I won. And then in New York, I just got off. I mean, just got off enough where I was missing the fairway and the rough was very thick there, and I had a difficult time with that. And then I came here on Monday and I could not keep it out of the rough here, which is not like me. My game is a short miss; if I miss, that's my miss. For some reason, my miss was either 30 yards left or 30 yards right and I wasn't used to that. So Mike and I just went back to basics. I mean, I had to go right back to the beginning and get some rhythm and timing back into my golf swing. That's what I had lost, basically. I had no transition in the top of my swing. So, we just had to work on drills, just to try and get me back in there. And then to see it work today was pretty cool, because it wasn't working yesterday morning, but by the time we got done with yesterday afternoon, it was great to see it. Because a couple of the irons I missed today were short and on line, and you can do that on this golf course and not get in trouble.

Q. How often does something like that happen to you?

MEG MALLON: You know, I see Mike about every six to eight weeks. It can happen if we've had a really windy tournament and your timing gets off or something like that. That's why I see him that often; so it doesn't get that far off. And I had gone to see him in Colorado two weeks ago just so I would not have get a lesson when he got here, and I hit panic mode on Monday when he got here. So, we had to start all over again.

RHONDA GLENN: And that's Mike McGetrick, her teacher.

Q. When the players came in the first three days prior to the tournament, we asked: "Well, who else do you think will contend"? They kept mentioning your name. Did you see or hear any of those comments, and would it give you any boost to know that they were looking at you already?

MEG MALLON: Are these my friends? (Laughter.) You know, I've played well in the Opens, I guess, and maybe because this is a golf course we have to keep it in the fairway and you have to be a little creative around the greens/, I don't know, the only thing I heard was Pat Bradley say that, and obviously, it's an honor to have a player like that pick me out of a list of names. I don't know, maybe they see something else I don't. I'm just, you know, trying to play some good golf. I've been playing well. I'm sure that's what it has to do with, and I've played well in the Opens. So, I don't know, prophetic, I guess.

Q. Talk about the course conditions today, particularly the wind, and how that affected your style of play?

MEG MALLON: You know, we were very fortunate teeing off at 7:45 this morning. Hardly any wind at all. Very benign conditions for this golf course. Obviously, it can blow 20, 25 out here. It only started to do that the last three or four holes. Obviously, you know, we could see how difficult it can get when it does blow out here. If it happens tomorrow afternoon, which is going to make the target areas that much smaller -- and that's what's so good about today was I was hitting it everywhere I wanted to today. But when the wind blows, that changes -- shortens the field a little bit.

Q. Can you talk about how it shortens the field? Who would this favor if it does start to pick up and become windy? What type of a golfer would that favor here?

MEG MALLON: Me. (Laughter.)

Q. Why?

MEG MALLON: I don't know, I've had a lot of success in the wind. That's the only reason why I joke about that. You know, obviously, you can't look past Juli Inkster, she's playing great. She can handle any condition. Laura Davies plays very well in the wind. I think the more challenging, the more she rises to the occasion.

Q. Not specific names, but maybe the type of a golfer?

MEG MALLON: That's why I say, maybe I should -- it's easier to say specific names, because I think the better players can handle the tougher conditions would be the right answer.

Q. Do you think you might have won another Open by now after winning when you did, with your style of play?

MEG MALLON: I've had a couple of chances, and obviously, I had a great opportunity in '95, with a putt to tie. But yeah, I've played well. I finished fourth at Oakmont. I think I finished third in another place. I've had some very good finishes in the U.S. Opens. But I know how fickle it is, you know, a lucky bounce here, a certain break there. I can't beat myself up over not having won another Open. I've got my name on a trophy, which is pretty cool. But certainly, it's my favorite event and I love to play it, and I'd love to win it again.

Q. Speaking of beating yourself up, that putt that you missed to tie, you mention it every now and then I've seen over the years. Does it still affect you a little bit?

MEG MALLON: I don't know if it affects me, but it's a part of my memory. I always say I feel fortunate that I've had a chance to win an Open and I've had a chance to lose an Open. And I feel fortunate in both cases, because not many people in this world get either one of those feelings. And to even have a chance to win -- as you grow up, you say, "This is the putt to win the Open," and I had the opportunity to do that. That was great. I had already had one under my belt, and four years later, I had another chance at it. It was a great experience. I made a triple early in the round and fought to shoot even par all the way around. You know, I felt like I showed a lot of heart on that day, even though I lost by a shot.

Q. Would you expect that round -- or would you guess that a round like the one that you had today, is that -- how many more birdies are out there to be had? Where would you see your round fitting in to the scores?

MEG MALLON: That's a good question. I thought that I would be -- it would be three, four or five other people this afternoon, but now that the wind has picked up, the greens will probably get a little faster, with the wind blowing. I would think that it would hold up at the end of the day. If not, one shot back. I mean, the rough is a penalty, and I was fortunate not to hit in it today.

Q. One-shot penalty?

MEG MALLON: Oh, it is. You take your lumps and go. That's your bogey and get out of there and try not to get anything worse. The club just turns over automatically in the rough. As it should be; that's what we look for in a U.S. Open. Today, you know, not many people are going to do what I did and hit that many greens and that many fairways, and especially, I'm not going to expect to do that every day. So, you know, I've got -- tomorrow it might be a shock when I do hit it in the rough, but I've got to handle it like everybody else has.

RHONDA GLENN: Let's take a look at your card and go over your birdies and bogeys, please. Meg teed off on the 10th hole.

MEG MALLON: I started on 10. The 13th hole, I hit a 7-iron to about 20 feet past the hole and I made that for birdie. Now, on the next hole -- I'm interested to see what the USGA does to this, because I chose to hit my tee shot over in the 13th fairway. And when I did that, all of the USGA ladies got on their little speakers and said, "We've got a situation here." So, I don't know if their going to put a tree up like they did for Lon Hinkel or put up Port-A-Lets or something. Hopefully not. Hopefully, they won't change the way the course is and I'll be able to do that every day. I feel like that's a better way to play the hole. But, it certainly shocked them when I did that, especially when I hit it right over Laura Davies head. They weren't quite sure what I was doing. Then 18, I hit -- what did I have up there -- a sand wedge, up to about nine feet and made that for birdie. And then to No. 1, I hit a pitching wedge to, oh, let's call it eight feet; made that for birdie. And then No. 6, I hit a 9-iron to eight feet and made that for birdie. And then No. 9, I got up-and-down. I hit a little flop-shot to about a foot and a half and made that for par.

Q. Have you seen other players try that route in the practice rounds on that hole?

MEG MALLON: No. My caddy, he's the star in this. When we were playing that in the practice round, he said, "Meg, you may want to take a look at this." He said, "Look at the 14th green," when we were taking down the 13th fairway. He said, "Just take a look back to the 14th green and see what you think." And the 13th fairway, at the point where you would hit it on the tee on 14 is about 40 yards wide. It's really wide. I said, "Well, let's drop a ball and hit a shot from here," and it actually feeds right into it. You don't have to carry a bunker, you don't have to hit it over the water. The only thing you have is, you have to hit it over a tree. But today, I hit a 5-iron and hit it just right around the side of the tree and hit it up there 25 feet and almost made it for birdie. In the practice round, I hit 7-iron up there and could clear the tree easily. It's an option we looked at, because the tee shot on 14 is very severe. I had hit it in the water; I hit it in the bunker, and I felt like going over to 13 fairway was a better option. I thought, "Well, I'll try it today and see how it works, and then see what the USGA does about it." So I don't know what they are going to do. (Laughter.)

Q. They are ordering a tree right now.

MEG MALLON: They will be planting something right now.

Q. What was your approach and how many yards did you have into the green from the 13th fairway?

MEG MALLON: All the credit is to him, because he walked it off from the sprinklers to the 13th fairway over to the 14th green, and I actually had the -- almost the same yardage that Betsy King had from the left bunker that she was in, but I hit it a little more right than I wanted to. Normally, it would be about 145 to 140 to the front of the green and that green would go about 25 or 30 yards back.

Q. If you hit it into the 14th fairway, that's a pretty long iron shot, isn't it?

MEG MALLON: Yeah, and the pin was left. So you had to carry the bunker to hold the green. If you hit it, you know, as it was designed -- sorry -- you have to carry the bunker and hold it with a long iron. So, we went right and I almost made birdie. I just went right across the lip on it.

Q. When this gets out --

MEG MALLON: Oh, it's out, trust me. They are all messing around. I think it's more: "So, what are we going to do"? Because I had to clear the gallery out to go that way, because I have to go over their heads and then go over the players heads to -- but I'm about 40 yards away from the players that are hitting down 13. But the timing was fine. We didn't have to hold up play. We haven't had to wait or anything. I mean, the timing of it went fine today. Now, I don't know -- I played a practice round with Pat Hurst. She is probably going to do it this afternoon because she liked that route, too. I don't know what they are going to do. That's going to be interesting.

RHONDA GLENN: And what is your caddy's name?

MEG MALLON: John Killeen.

Q. Had you told anybody else about this before today's round or was that your secret weapon?

MEG MALLON: I told Pat: "You can't tell anybody about it, this is our secret," because she saw me hitting my iron shot over there in the practice round. She goes, "What are you doing?" And I go, "Well, we've got some yardages from here." And she started working on her caddy, and I could see Laura Davies and Se Ri pointing, "What are you guys doing over there." So it will be interesting to see if anybody else tries it. It was a good option today, especially where the pin was. If the pin is back left, I think it's the best play.

Q. Are you going to do it again tomorrow, unless they say you can't?

MEG MALLON: They can't say I can't. They can either put white stakes up -- I'm not sure they can change the condition of the course once they have started the event. I don't know what will be the deal today. I know what happened, Lon Hinkel, they put a tree up there when he took a shortcut in a U.S. Open. I don't know if our committee will do that or not. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Q. Your playing partners today, what did they say? Did they comment at all?

MEG MALLON: First thing, Betsy wanted to know was what my yardage was after we played the hole. And so she's like, "Well, we had the same yardage." Ut I said, "Yeah, but you were in the long rough and you could not get to the green. I had a shot from there." You know, you could just kind of see them buzzing with their caddies, like: Why didn't you think of that? (Laughter.) So it was kind of fun to see that, and then to see who was away and wave. They were so far away, I had to wave and see who was away. It was an experiment that worked today. We'll see what happens.

Q. Playing so well today, does that just make a few days ago when you were struggling, you've just forgotten about it already, you're just totally confident right now?

MEG MALLON: Hopefully, muscle memory is what happened today and not what I came in struggling with. And I'm going out today and work on the same drills and try and keep that groove, because obviously, I had a good memory with that. So, you know, hopefully, that's what I'll bring out the next three days.

Q. I know there's still a lot of golf left, but at a U.S. Open, to get off to a good start, what does that do for you? And you being an experienced player, how will you use that to your advantage?

MEG MALLON: I guess I could look at it the other way. When I was in Kohler and I took a 9 on the 1st hole, that was far worse. You know, just getting off to a bad start is far worse in an Open. Getting around even par, 1-under, any time you get under par, bonus. But getting off to a bad start is just almost impossible to recover from.

RHONDA GLENN: And this is Meg's lowest opening round in the Women's Open.

End of FastScripts…

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