PARKER, Colo. (AP) – One minute, Meg Mallon was running down the fairway, celebrating one of the biggest victories of her career. The next, she was being loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.
The U.S. captain’s last turn as a player in the Solheim Cup was in 2005, when she made a par putt to clinch the American victory at Crooked Stick outside of Indianapolis. A typically raucous celebration ensued, but shortly after, Mallon started feeling lightheaded.
At the time, officials thought it was a simple case of heat exhaustion from a long weekend of golf in the summertime heat of Indiana.
As it turned out, Mallon’s heart rate was buzzing along at 300 beats per minute. She was taken to the hospital and diagnosed and treated for Supraventricular tachycardia, an ailment that causes the heart to beat very fast for reasons other than exercise or rest.
“It turned out to be a blessing because I had been misdiagnosed with (a different) heart ailment for almost 20 years,” Mallon said.
Mallon was fine. She got to enjoy a celebration in 2009 when she was an assistant captain on the winning U.S. team.
This year, she’s running the show and hoping she’ll get another chance to make up for what she missed in 2005.
“At the end of the day, it was great for me,” she said of the 2005 drama, “but it sure was a buzz kill for the party.”
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Paula Creamer made her Solheim Cup debut when she was 19. She earned a spot on the team and was bold enough to say in the weeks leading up to the matches that the Europeans should prepare to be beaten.
Creamer did her part, going 3-1-1 and trouncing Laura Davies in singles.
This year, being a teenager is no longer that big of a deal. Europe has the youngest player in Solheim Cup history, 17-year-old Charley Hull of England. The Americans have Lexi Thompson, who is 18 and already a two-time winner (once on the LPGA Tour, once on the Ladies European Tour).
Creamer said she only sounded fearless.
“I thought I knew what it was like to walk out on the first tee and I was like, `I got it.’ I can’t tell you how nervous I really was,” Creamer said.
It helped that she played before a home crowd at Crooked Stick in Indianapolis.
“Lexi is really lucky that this is her first one here in the States,” Creamer said. “There’s nothing better than having the homefield advantage. You really understand that when you do go over to Europe.”
REDEMPTION: Cristie Kerr has a little extra motivation to win back the Solheim Cup for the Americans.
Two years ago in Ireland, she played four matches with an injured right thumb and could not hit a ball more than 10 yards warming up Sunday morning. Kerr had no choice but to withdraw, conceding the match to Europe.
Europe went on to win, 15-13.
“Nobody knows but me how much I gave that week and how much I played through,” Kerr said. “Yet again, you’ve got to play singles. So it was very disappointing. Everybody has incredible motivation, but I have a little extra. So I am looking for some special stuff out there this week, and I am going to be there for my team. I’m looking forward to it.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME: Because Inbee Park finished 42nd at the British Open earlier this month, she will not sweep all five of the women’s majors.
Still, if she wins at the Evian Championship next month, she’ll win her fourth major of the year. In the men’s game, or in tennis, they would call that a Grand Slam. But in women’s golf, which added Evian as its fifth major this year, there’s some debate of where to rate _ and what to call _ the accomplishment.
U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon would simply call it “an exceptional year.”
“I don’t know why we have to get caught up and have to label it,” she said. “Because it takes away from the performance this girl’s had this year.”
Even with her finish at St. Andrews, Park is No. 1 in the world golf ranking and on the LPGA money list. She has six victories this year.
She isn’t present this week at the Solheim Cup, which is an America vs. Europe event.
Only American Stacy Lewis, who won the British and is second on the money list, has an outside chance to say she’s had as good a 2013 as Park, and even that would be a stretch. Park and Lewis will tee it up at Evian in four weeks.
“If she wins Evian, `Best Player in the World,'” Mallon said of Park. “That’s a pretty good title in and of itself.”
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