Mallon's brilliant last day at Orchard Golf Club
BY Bruce Young | LPGA Tour | 2004 US Women's Open | Wrap | 05 Jul 2004
In what was one of the truly brilliant last days in US Open golf, 40-year-old Meg Mallon outplayed and outlasted her younger counterparts with a two shot win over the number one player in the women’s game, Annika Sorenstam.
For Mallon, this was her fourth major title having won this event, the LPGA and the Du Maurier previously, but perhaps more than anything else, it will be the comprehensive and emphatic nature of her win here that will last long in her memory and that of the many who witnessed the performance.
Mallon entered this week as a lady who was not too far away from a very good week. To suggest it would be this good might be stretching it a little, but that she had been in good form in recent weeks was confirmed by her runner up placing at the Office Depot event and four top twenties since.
Mallon is very much a big game player. This was her second win in this event and in her sixteen starts since joining the tour in 1987, there have now been eight top tens at the US Women’s Open.
Three shots behind the talented yet comparatively inexperienced, on this stage at least, Jennifer Rosales going into the final round, Mallon put together a sensational series of holes in the middle of her round with birdies on six of twelve holes from the third. She kept her round and the momentum going with several excellent up and downs and did not drop a shot under the most intense examination in Women’s golf. She recorded a back nine of 32 which seemed almost unimaginable in the circumstances and on a golf course set up to test the best. Just as you imagine she would however, the world’s greatest female player, perhaps ever, Annika Sorenstam was not going down without a fight.
Sorenstam opened with a bogey when she needed it least, but managed to get that back with a birdie at the 7th. As she walked to the tenth tee she was two behind Mallon and Rosales who was hanging on for grim death. With many expecting a charge, Sorenstam duly obliged with a birdie at the tenth and it was very much ’game on’. Another came at the 13th and then with two consecutive birdies to finish, Sorenstam had left herself a faint hope, with perhaps a Mallon disaster, to snatch the title. The script had been perfectly written although nobody had told Mallon to read it.
Mallon responded gamely to the threat Sorenstam had presented with birdies of her own at the 11th, 12th and 14th to open up a three shot lead over Kelly Robbins before Sorenstam’s finish ensured that it would be no cruise to the line.
She played the last two holes beautifully and as you would expect a player of her experience to do, Mallon ran out the winner by two over Sorenstam and by four over Robbins who had a three shot break over the faltering Rosales.
Mallon is known to many golf fans in this part of the world not so much for her visits to Royal Pines and Palm Meadows, but for her win at the World Golf Championship event in 1991 in Cairns of all places. She has been a great ambassador for the game and in the thirteen years since that win at Paradise Palms, she has been inside the top ten on the money list on eight occasions and with this win and the accompanying largest cheque in women’s golf, she has now moved to second place on the 2004 money list.
There were plenty of good stories behind the top two. Kelly Robbins has again chosen the US Open to further highlight her immense talent. As was the case in 2003, she arrived at the event with no real reason to expect anything other than just a nice week. Her form this year has been at best ordinary. In twelve starts prior to his week she had not once been inside the top ten but as was the case last year at Pumpkin Ridge she found a way to grind it out. It may be that this is the performance to get her going again.
Rosales has previously experienced the heat of a US Open with a top ten in 2002 and top twenties in 2000 and 2003. Still only twenty five, her time will come but that is likely of little consolation now as contemplates what might have been having lost a three shot lead today and eventually finishing fourth.
The two teenage stars Michelle Wie and Paul Creamer tied for 13th and highlighted the new, no fear, breed of LPGA Tour player.
Rachel Teske and Michelle Ellis were the leading Australians in 10th place, Karrie Webb was 16th, Katherine Hull 51st and Loraine Lambert 56th.