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March 21, 2000

Dottie Pepper


Q. Just if you could talk about coming back as defending champion, are you better prepared this year than you were last year?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Yeah, I think I am. I'm actually probably playing as well, if not a little bit better, than I was last year coming in here. I just think the whole process of leading up to a tournament is getting comfortable on the golf course; again, getting the Pro-Ams out of the way and refocusing yourself on the first major of the year, and we're halfway through that preparation process at this time. So yeah, if the wind would lay down a little bit on that driving range, it would certainly help being able to practice a little more efficiently, but everybody is in the same boat.

Q. When in your schedule do you start preparing for this, anticipating this tournament?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I suppose in a technical sense you could say that I prepared for it when I committed to the tournament when I did, back in December -- I guess it was December, in not going to Hawaii and Australia. In a very physical sense, I suppose that's when I got back from L.A., you kind of set your sights on this three-week swing and hopefully have it climax at this point.

Q. (Inaudible)?

DOTTIE PEPPER: No. I've never done that with any golf course, you know, in particular for a major, primarily because the LPGA doesn't allow to you did it the week before. We have a rule regarding that. And it just doesn't -- it's not very convenient, other than that. But a lot of times, you're better off not, because the golf course changes so much from when you would be able to come play to tournament time; so it really sometimes just doesn't really warrant it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DOTTIE PEPPER: Actually, I struck the ball pretty well last week. Bunker play was very good. Really, if you miss greens you have the potential to be in a pretty deep bunker. Got my old putter in my hand now and I feel a lot more comfortable, my old Ping. So that led to -- I was pretty comfortable over it out there today. And I use that word a lot, don't I. I drove the ball pretty well last week, and just didn't get a whole lot out of it, but it was mostly just didn't make many putts.

Q. If this wind continues, what would this mean for a tournament round?

DOTTIE PEPPER: What would it mean for a tournament round? Well, I think you can look back over history. This golf course, when the wind has blown, you've seen how difficult it can play. I have not been on the golf course yet, so I am not completely aware of which tees they have moved back. Although, I have a pretty good hunch. I think it will obviously make it play extremely difficult, especially if the wind blows out of the north or northwest. When it blows out here, that seems to be where it blows from and you very often get 18 downwind.

Q. What I meant was would it affect this golf course more than say some other courses you might play later in the year?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I guess it could because there's not much to protect it. But it certainly doesn't have as much effect as it did when they first started playing this tournament here when there were no trees of any height to block any wind. So you've got to anticipate it blowing out here. You know, last year we had four perfect days of weather and you really can't bank on that. But it's not very easy to predict 70- to 80-mile an hour winds, either, but on the flipside you can't expect to have four perfect days like we did last year.

Q. About your putter, what exactly is it and what have you won with it and why exactly did you change?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I've won six tournaments with it.

Q. Including this one?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Including this one. I don't know, I think sometimes you have to go through seeing if you can -- whatever you have -- whatever you can do to make it better and just little bit more comfortable, and it was time to put something back in my hands that I knew I could pull some putts with it, tournament-tested.

Q. When did you change?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I changed in December. Not because I was putting poorly. But I went to a testing facility and they put a shorter putter in my hands and it seemed to perform a little bit better. It looked the same. The putter was the same sort of -- it was cut the same; it wasn't like I went from a mallet to something completely different. But it was quite a bit shorter and it seemed to let my arms swing a little freer, but they were in a position I never really played from and played, you know, through some tournament-tested conditions, and I think it's time to get back to what I know works.

Q. So what length is the one --

DOTTIE PEPPER: It's a very hard question because everyone measures putters differently. This is two inches longer than the putter I had in play at the start of the year, I guess, is the easiest way to go about it.

Q. Do you consider yourself a tinkerer with your equipment, your game?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Not so much. If I tinker, it's a not drastic changes, and usually I end up going back to what I had in the bag to begin with. So if it's not right, right away, I normally don't switch out a whole lot.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DOTTIE PEPPER: Usually if I'm going to change a club, I can tell within two or three swings if it has any shot at all.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the competition? Right now, Karrie is playing extremely well, so is Annika, maybe Charlotta; you may have two Sorrenstams to deal with. Give us your thoughts on the best players right now and what seems to have developed at this point in the tour?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I think I have to agree with Laura at this point that Karrie is definitely the world's No. 1 player. You never know, the stretch she's had over -- really since she came out on tour in 1996, no one has touched, especially over the last 15 months. But you can't stand out there looking at the leaderboards and looking at what everyone else is doing. You need to worry about elevating your own standards to what you think is competitive and that's where I am. Knowing that I can play better, everybody else is playing better too, but you need to concentrate on what you know you can do better.

Q. (Inaudible)?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I don't know if it's their particular success, but just the quality of golf, and knowing that you can always play better and I think that's what has to continue to drive players; not just the fact that two players have separated themselves and elevated their games. Just they have played better golf in general, and it's not just two particular people. I think if you look at score averages over time, I think they have gotten better as the players have gotten better, and in order to keep pace you just need to keep getting better.

Q. With a few exceptions, of course, it seems like the players who tend to play well or win here represent a lot of experience. Any thoughts about that?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Yeah, this golf course, it definitely takes some experience. And it takes -- it takes getting a few rounds, I think, under your belt. There haven't been many people come out of the box and win here, especially as of late. And it's really the first time all year long you're really faced with significant rough. You're faced with some deeper bunkers than normal, faster, firmer greens, and if you know how this particular golf course reacts over time in those conditions, I think it's an advantage.

Q. What do you know about these twin sisters that are playing this week?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I don't know anything, to be honest would you.

Q. So you haven't seen them?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I saw them on the range briefly this morning, dressed alike. That's about all I know.

Q. What do you think of having two 13-year-olds in the field?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I think it's great. You know, I've told this story before, that in -- make sure I get this right. In 1984, I was extended an invitation here. I was low amateur at the US Open and could not afford a plane ticket to come out. So it's great that the kids can take advantage of the things that have been offered to them. Do I think the LPGA Tour is a great place to grow up? Probably not. High school and college I think are pretty important.

Q. How important do you think it is that somebody of the -- I suppose, the international stature of Celine Dion is taking an interest in golf, in women's golf and came to promote it?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I think it's terrific. I think anyone with a name recognition -- you know, look at Kathy Ireland what she's going to do in the Myrtle Beach event, and it just continues to elevate the status of the tour and women's golf in general and I think it's great. It's kind of like Bob Hope coming on when the PGA TOUR and gave them a big boost. I would equate it to something like that.

Q. What do you feel about dropping "Dinah Shore" from this title?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I've answered that question a bunch. I think it was -- I think it was handled in an extremely sensitive and positive way, but I think what they did was proper, because I can guarantee you that those two 13-year-old kids don't know who Dinah Shore was and that's where we're going to be. We're coming into this Generation X where they don't know who Dinah Shore was and I think that would be -- it would really be an embarrassing, sort of disgraceful thing, for the tournament for someone to say, Well, I don't even know who Dinah Shore is, or if you asked the impact of Dinah Shore on the LPGA or this particular tournament. So from a marketing standpoint it, obviously does the Nabisco company a lot of good. But I think it was time.

Q. Would you like to see some logo for the tournament that might retain the image of Dinah Shore?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I think they have done that. I mean, what they have done with her image, what they have done with the wall, I think they have done everything that they -- that needs to. It's even on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course.

Q. What I meant is the logo for the tournament?

DOTTIE PEPPER: The logo has always been the same, as far as I know. And I think it's important for an identity, a corporate identity to maintain that. I mean, you're looking for consistencies throughout. If they would all of the sudden lose that logo, I think that would be a pretty hard thing to do. I mean, Dinah probably had something to do with that logo, I don't know. But she's certainly everywhere. I think you're getting into a situation where someone's going to win this tournament and say, "Who is Dinah Shore?" And I think that's really sad. But at the same time, I think you have to move forward and recognize what she did for women's golf. The LPGA has put her in our Hall of Fame and what they have done on the walk here, the wall, her image is there and obviously her entire image by the 18th, I think they have handled it really well.

Q. Is it like a lot of things, though, where today's players don't -- or teenagers or whatever don't really -- don't have that sense of history of who came before them to maybe set up what they are able to take advantage of now?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, yes and no. I mean, I don't know, I was always a history buff so it was no big deal. My grandmother watched Dinah Shore. So, you know, when I went to her house, it was on, Cooking with Dinah or whatever. That's not there anymore. So I don't think it's any fault of today's -- today's generation. It's just not on television the way -- you know, when I grew up, Dinah Shore was on television. Dinah Shore was at the tournament. Dine's been gone now for -- Dinah's been gone now for six years, and it's a long time for a player to -- players that are now coming on tour, there's a lot of players probably players that are on the Top-10 that have never seen Dinah Shore. So I don't think it's necessarily any of their fault. It's just she wasn't around.

End of FastScripts….

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