|Meg Mallon, the US Solheim Cup Captain, was part of the team that suffered a shock defeat to Europe at Dalmahoy in Scotland in 1992. And she doesn’t want to go down in history as the first American skipper to lose on home soil.
Meg Mallon, the US Solheim Cup Captain, was part of the team that suffered a shock defeat to Europe at Dalmahoy in Scotland in 1992. And she doesn’t want to go down in history as the first American skipper to lose on home soil.
“I played on the very first win for the Europeans in 1992 when we were heavy, heavy favourites,” she recalled. “We had maybe eight who went on to the Hall of Famers but we got beaten.
“They were a young team and the American media didn’t even know probably eight of their players. That’s what I’ve got to remind my team.
“The underdog is scary. We have to be aware that in matchplay it’s anyone’s day. It’s my job to take care of business out there. They have a really young team and nothing to lose.”
Mallon already has a good idea of her pairings going into the matches at Colorado Golf Club – she wasn’t giving anything away – but she has taken some advice from former US captain Curtis Strange.
“I got a great suggestion from him last week. Trust your gut and you instincts. That’s what I did when I made the wild card picks (Michelle Wie and Gerina Piller),” she continued.
“Choosing Michelle was a no-brainer. She has Solheim Cup experience and she lives on this stage every day so walking into this environment isn’t going to affect her.
“Gerina was my instinct – gut feeling. She’s a super talented player and the only thing I worried about was lack of experience. But she’s got a great support network and she’s having a blast.”
Mallon’s two Vice-Captains are Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz – an unlikely combination remembering the controversy of Halmstad in 2007 when Pepper was a TV commentator.
Mistakenly assuming she was off air, she made some unflattering comments in the direction of Diaz.
“When I was asked to be Captain the first thing I thought about was who I wanted to be around me,” explained the for-time major champion. “I’m not the most media savvy person and that’s why I wanted Dottie.
“We played on Solheim teams together and we always had a great rapport. I wondered if she would want to go through it all again but she was on board right away.
“I also needed someone who was on Tour and in tune with the players and that was Laura.
“Dottie and Laura have been friends since Laura was ten or 12 so that was an easy reunion to make. The families are close and it was kind of a neat thing to see them come back together.
“People just needed to talk. Six years later and I thought it was silly it was still going on.”
For Mallon, a key player will be the world No.2, Stacy Lewis. Fresh from winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St Andrews this month, she is on a hot streak.
“Stacy has been out here five or six times and her leadership is invaluable,” stated the Captain.
Mallon has four rookies – Piller, Lizette Salas, Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson – and she recognises the value of her experienced campaigners.
“The young ones look up to them and I’m relying on them to take on a leadership role.”
Cristie Kerr, in her seventh Solheim, is now the veteran of the US side, while Paula Creamer, in her fifth set of matches, is another likely home team talisman.