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Solheim captain for 2013: Mallon or Inkster?

Solheim Cup
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Meg Mallon or Juli Inkster?

Barring a stunning turn of events, one of those two will be the next U.S. Solheim Cup captain when the Americans meet the Europeans at Colorado Golf Club in the fall of 2013.

The LPGA will announce the new U.S. captain on Thursday at 9 a.m. ET from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.

Neither Mallon nor Inkster immediately returned calls to seeking comment Tuesday.

Mallon, Inkster and Dottie Pepper are far and above the most qualified candidates, but Pepper alienated some American Solheim Cup leaders with critical comments she made toward the American team when she believed she was off the air during her analyst duties at the 2007 Solheim Cup. Pepper also has said her NBC and Golf Channel broadcast duties would make the role difficult at this stage of her television career.

Mallon, 48, is an 18-time LPGA winner with four major championship titles. She announced her retirement in the summer of 2010. She served as assistant Solheim Cup captain to Beth Daniel in 2009 at Rich Harvest Farms. She played on eight U.S. Solheim Cup teams, five of them winners, sporting a 13-9-7 career record in the matches.

Inkster, 51, is an LPGA Hall of Famer with 31 LPGA titles and seven major championships. She was an assistant captain who also played last year for Rosie Jones in Ireland. Inkster has made a record nine U.S. Solheim Cup teams, five of them winners. She sports a 15-12-7 career record in the matches. No American has scored more points (18 1/2) in Solheim Cup history than Inkster.

With Mallon retired, it makes sense that she would get her chance sooner, rather than later. If she isn’t selected this time around, she’ll be five years into retirement the next time she gets a chance.

Inkster made the last American Solheim Cup team on points. She’s still an active player and highly competitive, but Inkster is also battling a serious elbow injury that could threaten her ability to compete regularly this next season.

The American Solheim Cup committee that makes the choice is made up of LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, former American Solheim Cup captains and members of the Solheim family.

LPGA insiders believe this is likely a case where Mallon and Inkster are pretty much assured being captains of the next two Solheim Cup teams, with the committee having to decide who best fits what is required to be a home captain vs. an away captain.