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March 26, 2004

Dottie Pepper


THE MODERATOR: Great playing out there again today. I know it's a lot tougher with the wind today than it was yesterday. Talk about that and talk about how you feel.

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I hadn't really paid attention too much about what the forecast was until last night when I was laying on the couch and heard the wind blowing. I didn't know if the sprinkler system had come on or what. I actually got up and looked out. That's not the sprinkler system.

I think you mentally prepare yourself at that point for what could happen today. Fortunately it didn't seem like it gusted too badly. It was fairly consistent, the direction was consistent, the front hasn't crashed all the way through. It's supposed to come from the north tomorrow. That definitely helped. It wasn't caught in the transfer of the front staying and leaving, that made it easier.

It's similar to the conditions we faced last week on Sunday in Phoenix. I had a fairly good day there, and although I shot over par, managed to pass some people and close the round very strong, so I think I pulled on that quite a bit.

Q. I know last year was a tough year for you. Talk about how it feels to play well at a tournament --

DOTTIE PEPPER: More than anything, I'm happy to be healthy. Last year my shoulder never gave me any problems but everything else did. Every time I had a chance to play a few and get momentum going, it was basically stopped. Basically I got off the train the third week of September and that was it. I was pretty ill until the beginning of January. I'm feeling good and that way I can at least work on my game and get things done I'm trying to do.

Q. What were the other health issues last year?

DOTTIE PEPPER: There were a variety of things. The chief concern was a sinus condition had gone misdiagnosed. So with the help of Arnold Palmer, I spent time at the Mayo Clinic and got it straightened out last year. It was a couple of years I had continuing sinus infections that had really started becoming pretty chronic. If you've ever had them you know they can be debilitating. That was the crux of a lot of what was going on.

Q. (Inaudible)?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I have a partially blocked sinus cavity, but the help has been incredible. Knock on wood I have yet to get sick at all since I've been up to see them. It's pretty amazing.

Q. You had the shoulder injury in 2002, if I remember right.

DOTTIE PEPPER: I missed that whole season.

Q. How frustrating was that?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I was basically out of commission from November of '01. And last year, for what it was worth, it was not much, so I feel like I've really just kind of started over again and was able to work on my game the way I wanted to. The last six weeks of the off season, I finally got healthy enough to be able to do what I needed to do seven days a week. That was just a huge thing for me.

I made the comment before I left for Tucson that I had never been this relaxed and just -- I don't know if the word was confident, but just prepared for the season to start. The first two tournaments weren't great. I managed to play all eight rounds and that's what I needed to do. I needed to keep playing. And then you come to a tournament like this, where it's not a birdie fest and where the conditions are tough and it played right into what my preparation had been.

Q. Was there a point where you thought I'm never going to get back to where I was?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I was pretty sick there in October, yes. I was kind of wondering what was going on, to be honest with you.

Q. Did you consider retiring at that point?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Maybe not that, but I was not going to play until I felt well.

Q. Can you tell us what was the connection with Arnold Palmer and the sinuses?

DOTTIE PEPPER: His internist at the Mayo Clinic kind of moved a lot of things around to get me in. 72 hours after I made the phone call and he following up, and they were amazing. It's everything you heard about. It's that good.

Q. Given all of that that's gone on, I suppose this is probably a tournament it would make sense that you would be in that chair again.

DOTTIE PEPPER: Let's hope I'm here for a couple of more days.

Q. Given the windy conditions, you've played this course as much as anybody, there's nothing they can throw at you that you haven't seen by now, right?

DOTTIE PEPPER: That's exactly right. We've had these conditions. We've had a pretty good stretch of weather here the last two years, but earlier in my career, this happened it seems like every year for a couple of days and you pull on that. Targets that need to be hit when the wind is blowing out of the west and shots you can and cannot attempt from that sort of weather conditions. I won't go hit golf balls this afternoon. I'm not going to beat my brains into a west wind. Things you become more comfortable with after more and more rounds here.

Q. Since you've been away, so to speak, there are a lot of youngsters. Talk about that?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Half of them I have to ask who they are, for starters. If they're good enough to play out here and mature enough to handle the traveling and day-to-day and week-to-week stuff, let them play. The only thing I hesitate, not that I was any of that caliber of player growing up, is that they lose their childhood, because you can't get that back. That's a once-in-a-lifetime deal. When it's gone, it's gone. It's not like going to the NBA or wherever, or going back to get your college degree. You can't go back and get your childhood. You can get a college degree, but you can't go back to 13, 14, 15.

Q. Given that you haven't been in this position for a while --

DOTTIE PEPPER: I had to ask directions to the front door, actually.

Q. And you're halfway through and in the lead, do you feel confidence building?

DOTTIE PEPPER: No, I feel very good about where I'm at. Quality golf shots two straight days and you expect to do that. Good practice sessions. I worked with Craig over the phone the last two days, I'm out here doing what I'm supposed to be doing for a change.

Q. What's your coach's name?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Craig Harmon.

Q. Does having the physiotherapy trailer out here help you?

DOTTIE PEPPER: They helped last week when my neck got stiff. I worked with a trainer in the off season. I can work at home completely on my own. The stretching hasn't changed over the last six or seven years, and everything I can do with a medicine ball, free weights and a big Resistaball. I don't need to be in there. Thank goodness.

Q. When was the last time that you felt completely healthy, because you had problems before with your shoulder, didn't you?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I had minor rotator cuff flare-up 13 years ago. That was a couple of weeks, no big deal. The last time I was completely healthy was '96, '97. I got really sick in '98, '99. I got really sick after this tournament.

Q. As much of a competitor as you are, this is the prime of your career, prime of your life. Have you felt really frustrated by not being your best at a great time in golf.

DOTTIE PEPPER: I'm not the kind of player that's going to come out here just because I have nothing else to do. I'm going to play good golf. There's a lot more to life. I'm not going to come out here because I need to get a certain number of tournaments in or whatever. I'm going to play good golf or, trust me, I'm going to find something else to do.

Q. After you dove in the lake, they cleaned it up. They made a point of trying to clean it up.

DOTTIE PEPPER: It's much better than it was.

Q. Wasn't the story that they found something in your ear two weeks later?

DOTTIE PEPPER: It was green. I won't go into the details, but it was very ugly.

Q. Were you joking when you said it could have affected your sinuses, that dip in the water?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I didn't play for four weeks after I dove in there.

Q. Was that pneumonia or what did you get?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I had walking pneumonia, and there was something in my ears that wasn't anything other than green. Seriously, I was pretty sick for whatever was in that lake.

Q. Does this mean you're not jumping in the lake if you win Sunday?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I'll jump if that's the case and worry about starting antibiotics on Monday. I hope we have that problem. We'll grind it out for two more days and see where we're at.

Q. Let's go over your birdies and bogey really quick.

DOTTIE PEPPER: Birdie at 2, with a 2-putt birdie from about 45 feet.

Q. What did you hit in there?

DOTTIE PEPPER: 3-wood in there. The next one I hit -- I didn't hit a very good drive. I hit a 4-iron in there 25 feet of the hole and made that.

Hit a wedge into 10, 25 feet.

The only bogey was at 12. I hit the ball through the fairway on the right, didn't get it up-and-down and missed about a 12-footer.

Q. What did you hit into the green there?


Q. So you missed the green with a 5?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Missed the green with a 5-iron and pitched on and missed about a 12-footer. By and large, I didn't miss many greens. Considering the weather conditions, I was very happy with my ball striking, very happy.

End of FastScripts.

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