Eighteen-time LPGA winner and nine-time Solheim Cup participant Meg Mallon was introduced as Captain of the 2013 U.S. squad at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando on Jan. 26. The four-time major champion was humbled by the honor and said she will take the role very seriously as the U.S. Team attempts to win back the cup from the European Team, Aug. 16-18, at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. Former LPGA media relations coordinator and 2013 Solheim Cup PR Manager Neal Reid caught up with Mallon to get her thoughts on her selection.
Q: How did you find out about your selection, and what was your response?
MM: I got a wonderful phone call from Mike Whan, the Commissioner, and I was really surprised. It was a wonderful phone call to get, and Mike was great. I think I paused for a second, because it took a little while for it to sink in when he told me.
Q: You had to know you had a shot at the position since your name was on a short list of potential captains, right?
MM: Well, you never know. You hear your name being mentioned, but until you really hear it come out of the Commissioner's mouth, it's a whole different story. It was really nice. It was a nice surprise, for sure.
Q: The Solheim Cup was always very special for you during your playing career, so how special is it to be chosen for this role?
MM: It's really a tremendous honor and something I will take very seriously. I will work very hard for the next year-and-a-half to make sure my team is ready, comfortable and at their best to play. I'm excited to try and get that Cup back in Colorado and excited for everybody at the Colorado Golf Club. Obviously, representing your country is the greatest honor you can have.
Q: What makes The Solheim Cup so special as an event and as an international spectacle?
MM: First and foremost, it's really the only opportunity we have to represent our country. The Olympics are coming up now, but this has basically been our Olympics. You play an individual sport and have the opportunity to not only play on a team, but to represent your country. That's really a unique experience and is something every American player would love to do.
Q: How will your experience playing in eight Solheim Cups help you as Captain?
MM: Well, you definitely find out who you are in this event. It brings out all of your patriotism and desire as well. It will be fun for me to see how each player handles everything and develops throughout the event. That's the best part about it - the experiences each player has.
Q: How do you think your experience as an Assistant Captain in 2009 will help you as Captain?
MM: It was very good to get that experience as Assistant Captain, to learn under Beth Daniel and see how much work goes into it. It's not just about that one week, but two years of preparation. So, it's good to know what I have coming forward and how important it is to develop a good team around you. It will be really fun in the next year-and-a-half to see how it all transpires. The good thing is that I know a lot of the American players really well, and it will be fun to see how hard they play over the next year-and-a-half to make the team. That's something I will enjoy a lot.
I also had a great experience being the Captain of the U.S. Team at the PING Junior Solheim Cup in Ireland. That really helped me as well, because it was a situation where I didn't know any of the kids, and we all came together in one week to try and form a team. That was really a great experience for me to learn about pulling a team together. So, I'll draw on that as well.
Q: You know all of the past U.S. Captains very well, so how much will you look to them for advice and guidance?
MM: I'm definitely going to draw from all of the resources I can. I was thinking about it, and I have either been a player for every Captain or a Solheim Cup Team member with every Captain so far. So, I'm definitely going to lean on them for their experience and also because of the trust and bond I've formed with all of them throughout these Solheim Cups. It's a great resource for me to have, for sure.
Q: Is it extra special to be the Captain on U.S. soil, where the U.S. Team has never lost?
MM: I think (to be Captain) on either side of the pond is a thrill and an honor. My connection with Colorado Golf Club runs very deep because of (my former coach) Mike McGetrick, and I saw the property before there was even a hole put in the ground. To see it now host the best event in women's golf is pretty exciting. Mike and I would be on the driving range, and he'd be talking to me about this piece of property he wanted to build a golf course on. So, it's really cool how it's come full circle.