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June 1, 1999

Dottie Pepper


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Dottie Pepper, who is having a wonderful year this year after a two-and-a-half-year drought, winless drought. She won her first tournament, which was surely a big one, the Nabisco Dinah Shore, her second victory in that. In the Women's Open, I'd like to point out that in 15 Women's Opens in which Dottie has played, she has finished in the Top 20 twelve times, and she has been in the Top-10 six of the 15 times. The way you have been playing this year, Dottie, I hate to scare you, but it sounds to me as if you are a contender once again, and we should watch out for you at this Championship.

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I got off such a good start this year. I think once you win the first major, your natural focus is towards the second. Not that I necessarily build my years around the majors, but I certainly know where they are and what I think I need to be prepared properly for them. Pretty much spent the last month or so gradually building to this point, and feel like I am pretty much peaking at about the right time again.

RHONDA GLENN: Yet you have played quite a lot this last month; so that preparation did not involve a lot of rest.

DOTTIE PEPPER: I was sick for pretty much the entire month after the Dinah Shore; so got my rest whether I wanted to in that fashion or not. I missed two tournaments that I had committed to play in and planned on playing. Since then, pretty much followed the pattern, but I just feel like I have played a little bit better. Maybe not in the Open, but majors in general, by playing my way into them and playing decent amount of rounds prior to them. The last month of played quite a bit.

Q. You played so well at Solheim Cup, and you said then it was just a matter of time before you won again. It didn't seem like there was a great urgency; you knew it was going to happen. Did you know that --

DOTTIE PEPPER: (laughs) Maybe you should ask Ralph about the emergency.

Q. Did you know going into Dinah did that feel like it was going to be your week final chance?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I felt at any point on the West Coast I could win and really went out there prepared to win and really kind of expected to win. I don't think you can go into any one particular tournament saying: I know I am going to win this week, or I am spending more attention on this one particular tournament, because I think that puts a lot of added pressure on yourself that you really don't need. I just felt like having spent the entire month of February working really hard that I was pretty well due to win somewhere soon.

Q. I know you have played this course before, but can you talk about your how you found the course so far?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I think -- people have asked. I think I have played here four times prior. I think maybe three -- original one, I played the first -- I think we played two days. I think maybe the first one was even in '89 or 90; so I have kind of seen it mature a little bit; felt compelled not to play yesterday, I guess. Not be out there forever in preparation. It is a good driver's golf course, I think, to the extent that it is not horribly long. I think it is a golf-course-management sort of golf course. I don't think you need to stand up there with driver every time. You feel like you need to bust it out there. The par 3s, what I remember most about the golf course because I think they are the best holes of the golf course. I think they particularly reward good golf shots.

Q. How are you playing coming into the Championship?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I eked out two Top-10s by the hair on my teeth the last two times out, and done that when I haven't felt that I haven't been able to fire on all cylinders yet. So considering I've got my instructor here to work with me a little bit this week. I think we made minor adjustments that we needed to make, and I feel pretty good about it. I think the important thing with the weather, the heat the humidity is to not kill yourself on Tuesday and Wednesday and to be prepared to play on Thursday.

RHONDA GLENN: Forgive me, Dottie. What was your illness?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Bacterial infection.

Q. The consensus seems to be from other players as well that there is somewhat of a relief not having to go back to Kohler, Wisconsin or having that type of course again. Can you kind of compare the two?

DOTTIE PEPPER: There is no comparison. There really isn't. The golf course we played last year did not reward good golf shots. It just didn't. You had to get very lucky to have anything, you know, that you expected to happen, happen. I remember hitting a shot into 17th on Sunday, 15, maybe 20 feet from the hole; I literally have no play. That to me is just not fair. When the designer says that the golf course wasn't meant to be set up that way or meant to have the rough on it that it did, to me something wasn't right.

Q. Are there any holes here that -- you mentioned the par 3s, but any holes here that kind of present difficulty in a similar fashion?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Similar, no. I think this golf course, like I said, rewards good golf shots. You have the ability to chip the ball and good chips are rewarded. It is not like if you hit some goofy spins off a mound, you knock it 40 feet coming back for par. There are no holes out here that were supposed to be par 5s that are now par 4s. The golf course is playing fair. I just think if the golf course is good enough to hold the Championship that it should be played the way I think this one will be, and the golf course will be played the way it was meant to be designed to play.

Q. While you are on that subject, I have noticed when I talked to players such as yourself, or even on the men's Tour whatever, and they are on a course that a player had a hand in designing, they say pretty much what you just said; that the course would reward a good shot, but it is a tough course. Now, sometimes when you play a course where just a designer had a hand in it, they are a little tougher or not rewarding enough. Your thoughts?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I tend to agree with that to some point. I mean, I know some of my favorite golf courses that I have played -- Kruger Point one of my favorites at Kiawa. Gary Player designed that one, it does a lot like this one it rewards good golf shots. But at the same time, when you look at Alice Dye, she is a very good player in her own right, and has a lot to do with what Pete does on the golf course. But sometimes when the weather kicks in and things aren't set up the way they were designed to be played; it becomes a little crazy. But I think this golf course has enough built-in parameters where it could be extremely difficult if the wind blows. Holes like the 11th, they are going to be hard pars, which is the way it should be.

Q. Following up on that, regardless of what they do with the fairways, the rough and this and that, I understand that these greens can really have some treacherous pin placements, and that they are very good against that. Is that true because they are fast?

DOTTIE PEPPER: They can be fast in some spots, yes. I think if the wind blows and the humidity level happens to drop a little bit, I think they will get pretty firm and quite quick. But at this point in the week, they are still -- they are receiving good shots. If the ball is struck properly, they are taking a shot. They are going to release -- I don't know, we were getting ten feet to 12, 15 feet a rollout today with a metal iron which is completely understandable; longer iron, it will be a little bit more. I think they are really reasonable. But golf course management part of it comes in, because there are going to be some pins that are going to have to be a little more aware of than others.

Q. At Nabisco you had such a terrific low score. That was a record as well?


Q. Where does that place now in your mind you have to set it back a bit and/or are their strings in that game in those rounds that you can draw on now?

DOTTIE PEPPER: I think any chance you have to put your name on the record book like that is -- occupies a spot in the forefront. To play four rounds the way I did was pretty mistake-free. When I did -- I didn't drive the ball that greatly that week, but when I did miss the fairways, pitched it out to the 60-, 70-yard mark, it was probably the best I have been in the last couple of years from that point in. When you can get the ball up-and-down from that point, it somehow makes the fairways seem a little wider and let's you relax a little more thinking: Well, if I do that miss-hit a shot, I know can get the ball up-and-down for par. I did not 3-putt once that week. The greens I hit, I always had a chance to make birdies. Just happened to make my fair share that week. It gives you a lot of confidence to know that you have played so well in a major; that a lot of hard work was just rewarded. I have tried to put myself in that same framework over the last month, and it is like finally that I have felt well enough to prepare myself properly. Not only for this week, but I felt like when I went to Nashville and I went to Corning last week, I was prepared to play well and win those tournaments and that didn't happen, but I went in feeling like I was playing well enough to win. I think that is all you can ask of yourself getting ready to play in any tournament, let alone a major.

RHONDA GLENN: Dottie, so much attention has been called to your competitiveness. Taken into account every professional athlete is very competitive, and certainly even amateurs who play at this level, you seem to have a little extra fire. Is that something that is just reserved for golf, or are you like this -- I was looking at your hobbies here: Gardening, music, sports cars, downhill skiing. Are you very competitive in, say, everything but gardening?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, Ralph has become a green thumb in the family; so I don't know. Now he expects me to grow them as fast as he did, I think. I think I am competitive, sure. In a lot of things, but there is also a side of our family life that is not very competitive at all, and it is very harbored. It is very serene. We live literally in the middle of nowhere during the summertime. Just for that purpose, it is a good way to get away from it, because everything about being out here is so competitive. I think people see the competitive side, but they don't see the other balanced side, too.

RHONDA GLENN: What is the peaceful side? Like what are some of things you like to do other than sports?

DOTTIE PEPPER: We have got a pretty decent wine collection starting to take care of itself. Last summer, we moved my office downstairs so it won't be on the main level of the house and built a quiet room and a theater, so we would have room to listen to some really good music and watch some concerts and movies. We don't do a whole lot when we are home. We spend a lot of time just kind of enjoying home life, not making a whole lot of commitments, and enjoying being with our neighbors and taking the dog out running on the mountain. Everything that the TOUR is not.

Q. You are paired with Karrie in the first two rounds. She has had a pretty spectacular year so far. Is playing with a player like her -- both of you are very intense, but can you feed off of each other if both of you are playing well in a round?

DOTTIE PEPPER: Yeah, I think momentum swings in groups and a lot of times up see one or two players play well, and the third will just drag along-- won't play well. Yeah, I think that does happen. But I don't know that you can spend a whole heck of a lot of time worried about who you are playing with because you got enough to handle, just pegging it on the first hole. I played with Annika first two days at Dinah, so I guess there is bound to be great pairings and fortunately I have got one of them.

Q. With Alison talking about Karrie, can you sort of give your thoughts on what it must be like the pressure that she was under having not won a major but being so successful --

DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I have often said I thought Nicklaus started this whole major rah-wah (sic) because he said he built his schedule around majors and evaluated his career on majors. The media, I think, has just jumped on that wagon. To me, I mean, I can understand wanting to win majors because I think they are important. They are a barometer of how you are playing at certain points during the year. Majors do not make a career. Ask Andy North, he has won two Opens and that was about it. To me the big picture for me is trying to get into the Hall of Fame. You need to do a lot more than just play well in the majors to do that. I got to believe that that is one of Karrie's goals as well. She knows the majors you can't -- I guess you could win 15 majors to get into the Hall of Fame or 14 and whatever it would take. But that is not realistic either. Yes, they are important and I am sure she has placed some pretty well on her list of priorities. But I think at the same time she knows how well she is playing and you have to take that for what it is as well.

RHONDA GLENN: Does that mean the Hall of Fame is now something that is kind of in the back of your mind and something? A player would always like that but it is closer to the front of your mind.

DOTTIE PEPPER: It seems a little more tangible right now. Finally having a set number that we know is going to be the defining criteria and I had said before this season started, I felt like if I could get my number down to single digits it would be considered a successful year. That would mean I would have to win a major or win two tournaments and I would say, oh, well, that is a good way, I mean, we got it down to single digits to get it from 10 to 8, somewhere in that ballpark. When you win the first major and it all of a sudden down to 8 and it is only March the 28th, I think you start thinking a little bigger. I think that is a good thing. If the world is a perfect place we would be sitting here Sunday afternoon with only 6 points to go. Certainly it's in the forefront of your mind, but the big picture is you need to go play well first.

RHONDA GLENN: Dottie, thank you so much for being with us. Good luck to you this week.

End of FastScripts….

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