Mallon Embraced by Family in Victory

By Associated PressJuly 4, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Orchards Golf Club felt like home to Meg Mallon.
Born in Massachusetts and just 11 months old when her family moved to Detroit, Mallon was surrounded by her family and a few thousand old friends when she hoisted the U.S. Women's Open trophy at Orchards on Sunday.
'It just felt right for me this week. I just had a great response,' Mallon said.
A record crowd of 118,458 turned out for the Women's Open at Orchards, and the fans made it clear that Mallon was the hometown favorite.
She responded by delivering a finish to remember. Her 6-under 65 was the lowest final round by a champion in Women's Open history and wrapped up her second U.S. Open title in 13 years.
'I was having a ball with the gallery,' she said. 'I just said this isn't going to be a distraction, so I appreciated how much they were supporting me and I just fed off that.'
Mallon spent her summers as child on Cape Cod, and she continues to follow her beloved Red Sox and Celtics. A fan yelled 'If the Red Sox can't do it, you can do it today.'
'That is so Boston right there,' Mallon said. 'I figure if I can win the U.S. Open, then the Red Sox can win the World Series.'
Mallon is the youngest of six children, and four of her siblings and a nephew were at the Orchards to root her on.
'They carried me through the week,' she said.
Brothers Paul and John had special passes to walk inside the ropes. Each player is allowed one guest pass, but Juli Inkster, who finished about four hours earlier than the leaders, gave her pass to the Mallon family. They watched as her putter heated up and were on hand for her jaw-dropping 50-foot birdie putt at No. 4 that helped her gain momentum.
At that point, the Mallon clan knew they were in for something special.
'We've been supporting her all week long and that was the first time we really kind of got goose bumps,' brother Paul Mallon said.
The win capped an emotional week for the Mallons, whose thoughts were with their parents, John and Marian Mallon, now living South Carolina. Marian Mallon suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2001 and is paralyzed on her right side. Her children are certain their mother, a fiercely determined woman, will walk again.
'I'm not half the person she is. She's just the best human being I've ever known,' Meg Mallon said. 'This experience with her has just been incredible. She's making you feel good when you're trying to make her feel better.'
Mallons sibling, who all grew up in Massachusetts, visited some old haunts between rounds this week.
'They took a walk down memory lane,' Mallon said.
And by week's end, they all wound up in the winner's circle.
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