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Mallon bows out after epiphany

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OAKMONT, Pa. – Meg Mallon knew it was time to retire at the LPGA Championship two weeks ago.

She isn’t using the word retire, because she knows how golf is, how she’ll be making cameos and other appearances, so she says she’s “stepping away” from the LPGA and tour life. She said the decision was easy.

“They say every athlete knows when it’s time to go,” Mallon, 47, said in a telephone conversation. “I had my epiphany at Rochester. I was playing well. The difference was I did not have that desire I’ve always had to get the ball in the hole.

“The best players have more than talent. They have a great desire in their heart to get the ball in the hole no matter what.”

Mallon said she lost that desire and her scores began ballooning because of it.

“So it was an easy decision,” she said. “It’s time to move on, and I’m happy about it.”

One of the classiest, most likeable players in the history of the tour decided she would quietly step away after making her final appearance at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in Toledo last week. She did it so quietly she didn’t even tell her brothers, John and Paul, before teeing it up a final time there. They followed her in Toledo and she told them after the round.

Mallon never intended for word to leak at the U.S. Women’s Open this week. It did so, though, after she officially withdrew from the championship last weekend. She chose Toledo as her last event because it brought her “full circle.” She made her first LPGA appearance in Toledo and won her last LPGA title there.

With 18 LPGA titles to her credit, four of them majors, two of them U.S. Women’s Opens, Mallon leaves the game with tons of honors, trophies and awards. She leaves with even more respect for the kind of person she is. Mallon amazed her friends when she left the game last year to be with her dying sister, Tricia. Mallon spent the last 100 days at her sister's side as abdominal cancer took Tricia's life. Mallon helped Tricia's husband and the couple's three children through the ordeal.

'A lot of people don’t know what Meg did for her sister, or what a really tough time it was for her family,” Hall of Famer Juli Inkster said. “It was amazing how Meg never complained.

“Meg put her career on hold, and I don’t think there are too many people who would have done what she has done. She really has her priorities in order, and I have tremendous respect for her.”