Meg Mallon had a fond flashback after arriving in Naples on Thursday.
"I'm driving by The Strand, and I'm like 'Hey, I think that's where I won?" Mallon said at TwinEagles Golf Club on Friday.
"Was that 99?" she said. "It's hard to believe that was 13 years ago."
Mallon won the inaugural Naples LPGA Memorial at The Strand in the tour's first event in Naples since the World Championship of Women's Golf at Naples National Golf Club in 1994. The Memorial was patterned after the event of the same name on the PGA Tour that Jack Nicklaus hosts, and honored a contributor to women's golf. The first honoree was Fort Myers resident and LPGA co-founder Patty Berg.
"That was my fondest moment, having Patty there with me — two freckle-faced kids," Mallon said.
Now the tour's back with the CME Group Titleholders this week after 11 years away.
Mallon, an 18-time winner on the LPGA including the 1991 U.S. Women's Open, is here to promote the Solheim Cup; she is the U.S. team captain for 2013. She also wanted to be there to support Stacy Lewis, who became the first American to win the Player of the Year on the LPGA Tour since Beth Daniel in 1994. She's also catching up with some current players on the tour.
"There's a lot of players obviously that I know very well that will be on the team," she said. "There's a lot of young players the last two years since I stepped away from the tour that I haven't seen play much. Get an opportunity to see them kind of play a little bit."
Mallon, who played on eight Solheim Cup teams as a player, will have to make some quick decisions for her two captain's picks. Mallon and European captain Liselotte Neumann will announce their teams after the final round of the Women's British Open, which will be at St. Andrews two weeks before the Cup, which will be played at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo.
The top eight on the 12-person team will go by the two-year Solheim Cup points standings, then two others make the team based on their standing in the world rankings.
"The scenario could be the last hour of the British Open, which is triple points, it could completely change my team," she said. "I could be sitting there saying, OK, who's left to pick?
"It's going to be fun. It's going to be a great bump for women's golf. You go from St. Andrew's and then straight into the Solheim Cup. It'll be on everyone's mind, so it'll be great for the tour."
Mallon believes Monday's ISPS Hana Heroes charity pro-am at TwinEagles is something else that's great for women's golf. Current players Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Paula Creamer, and Brittany Lincicome are paired with legends Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Betsy King and Jan Stephenson in a nine-hole, made-for-TV exhibition that's free to the public.
While many Southwest Florida residents identifying with the older players, it's also another opportunity for the other players.
"It's a good way to introduce the players that they don't know," Mallon said. "I think it's a really neat event to have, and I'm glad they're doing it."