PARKER, Colo. — Never afraid to let a tear or two drop, U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon did, indeed, get choked up when asked about the fundraising effort the tournament is organizing for firefighters battling blazes close to the golf course.
She wasn’t nearly as warm and fuzzy while discussing how she’ll choose the last two members of her team.
With the Solheim Cup only two months away, Mallon said she sent an email to the top 30 players in contention for the 12 spots on the team that will compete against Europe at Colorado Golf Club from Aug. 16-18. Ten of those spots will be earned based on rankings; Mallon will make the last two picks.
"I played on eight teams and I was never a pick, I made it on my own points," Mallon said. "So, I told the players, ‘I have no sympathy for you if you don’t make the team.’ I said, ‘Don’t expect to make the team if you don’t make it on points."’
That said, Mallon will still have to pick two players after the British Open, which ends Aug. 4.
"The ideal scenario is someone with experience in Solheim Cups and who is playing really well," Mallon said. "You’ve got to take into consideration the golf course, take into consideration being at home. You’ve got to look at players who can handle those situations, look for that special player who embraces this event and can handle it."
Mallon was in town after a weekend of practice in Parker, where players could smell smoke wafting over from the devastating Colorado wildfires to the south.
Cup organizers announced that 15 per cent of the cost of all tickets sold this month on the Solheim Cup website — www.solheimcup.com — will go toward the Colorado Professional Firefighters Association.
Located about 20 miles south of the Solheim Cup course, the Black Forest fire has destroyed nearly 500 houses and covered 22 square miles. It was 65 per cent contained as of Monday.
"Tournaments give a lot to charity but when you have something like this happen in the state of Colorado and you’re so close to it and you have a chance to do something," Mallon said. "What the people have gone through the last two weeks, this is our opportunity to say to you, ‘We just want to help.’ It got me all choked up. I’m proud to have the opportunity to do that."
The players have reached the heart of the LPGA schedule, with three majors in the span of six tournaments, including the U.S. Open at Sebonack, beginning June 27. Majors are worth double points in the Solheim Cup standings. The top eight on the list will earn automatic spots on the team, along with the next two highest ranked players from the Rolex rankings.
Mallon will pick the final two spots.
Firmly cemented on the team is Stacy Lewis, whose 783.50 points is more than 300 ahead of second-place Cristie Kerr.
Those on the bubble include Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie, who are ranked 10th and 12th, respectively, on the Solheim Cup points list.
The U.S. is looking to regain the cup after losing 15-13 to the Europeans at Killeen Castle in 2011.
Mallon, a four-time major champion, has a 13-9-7 record in her eight Solheim Cup appearances. This is her first stint as captain.