Trend, experience boost Mallon

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

If you're into historical trends, then Meg Mallon is the clear favourite to win this week's Canadian Women's Open golf tournament at the London Hunt Club.

The affable 43-year-old from Birmingham, Mich., has the stars aligned for a 2006 win in Canada after victories in 2004 at Niagara Falls, 2002 at Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., and 2000 at Royal Ottawa. Every second year, she's golden.

"I don't know what it is. I'm just comfortable playing in Canada and it's always been that way," said Mallon, a fixture on the tournament's leaderboard since the mid-'90s.

"Canadians just love their golf and are so passionate about it. You watch the Golf Channel on TV and half of the calls are coming in from Canada. This is a national championship and I'm proud to have won it three times and I hope I can win it again."

Mallon's trio of triumphs puts her in tie with Pat Bradley. Brandie Burton has won twice, including the 1993 visit to the London Hunt.

Though the LPGA is currently marketing its glamourous up-and-coming players, a wily veteran like Mallon can win a championship.

"The equipment has made a huge difference. I'm hitting it further than I ever did at age 25, but so is Jack Nicklaus and he's 65," Mallon said. "I'd like to see the younger girls hit a two-iron like we did years ago.

"This course is totally different than the one we just played at the British Open and I think that's where the experience comes into play. We face different conditions every day and you have to adapt to each situation. It speaks volumes that a 46-year-old like Juli Inkster can still come out and win."

In 2004, Mallon defeated Annika Sorenstam in the U.S. Women's Open, her most recent major win. She has also carded a round of 60 -- one off Sorenstam's LPGA Tour record of 59 five years ago.

"It felt great to beat her," Mallon said. "That's what it's all about -- to be there at the end and to beat someone who's at the top of their game. I've had the good fortune of playing (and beating) players like Annika when she was in her prime and Betsy King and Nancy Lopez when they were in their prime, so I've managed to span a couple of tremendous eras of women's golf."

She's looking forward to the tour's evolution under commissioner Carolyn Bivens.

"This is the first time we've really been run as a business and you notice the difference," Mallon said. "Before this, who knew how this tour managed to run in the red every year and survive? We've put a lot on Carolyn's plate, but we're looking for something new, not just the status quo.


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