ORLANDO, Fla. – Meg Mallon knows better than anyone the thrill and torment that tugs at the hearts of players in the Solheim Cup.
She has been front and center for some of the competition’s most poignant moments.
Mallon, introduced Thursday as U.S. captain for the 2013 matches at Colorado Golf Club, felt her heart sinking back in Scotland in 1992 as she watched the Europeans celebrate around her when Catrin Nilsmark clinched the cup making a putt to defeat her in singles.
She also felt her heart swell with joy when she made the putt to clinch the American victory at Crooked Stick in her final Solheim Cup in 2005.
“I remember standing there with Catrin’s ball in my hand watching, the Europeans dancing all around me,” Mallon, said on the floor of the PGA Merchandise Show shortly after being introduced as the new captain. “That’s something you don’t forget.
“But I also remember coming full circle with my teammates jumping around me after I made a putt at Crooked Stick.”
Nobody’s heart has been pushed to its limit as much as Mallon’s has in the Solheim Cup.
Back in the aftermath of that victory at Crooked Stick, Mallon thought she was having a heart attack as she left the final ceremonies.
With her heart racing uncontrollably, she was rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital. She was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, a condition that has since been remedied.
“That was a little dramatic,” Mallon said. “We win and an hour later, I’m in a cardiac unit trying to figure out why my heart is beating 299 times a minute. I was kind of a buzz kill.”
Whether the Americans are riding a high in the midst of the next Solheim Cup, or enduring a swoon, Mallon is prepared. She has been in the wildest of circumstances in her eight Solheim Cups as a player. She was 13-9-7 in the matches, her 16½ points ranking as second most for an American in Solheim Cup history, trailing only Juli Inkster’s 18½.
An 18-time LPGA winner, with four major championship titles, Mallon called the Solheim Cup “the greatest experience” in women’s golf.
“Meg represents everything golf is about,” said John Solheim, the Ping chairman whose father founded the competition.
Mallon, 48, played on eight U.S. Solheim Cup teams, five of them winners, sporting a 13-9-7 career record in the matches. She served as assistant captain to Beth Daniel in 2009 when the Americans won at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago.
The challenge for Mallon is winning back the Solheim Cup. The Euros won it in Ireland last September, ending a run of three consecutive victories for the Americans. The other challenge is defending home turf. The Americans have never lost a Solheim Cup on their home turf.
“Losing the last Solheim Cup, the way we finished, Paula Creamer and I walked away from the 18th green saying `We are never losing like that, ever again,’” Lewis said. “I sat there on the 18th after, soaking it all in, and I told myself I never want to watch this again. We are more than motivated to win the cup back.”