May 1, 1997
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Go over your card starting at 10.
DOTTIE PEPPER: Started, obviously, at the 10th. Actually hit a pitching wedge to about three and a half feet. Had to make it, so I wasn't last off the tee on the next hole. Made a good 2-putt at 11. Then hit a 9-iron to about four feet at 12. 8-iron to twelve feet at 13 and made that. 4-iron 14, 20 feet, made that. Got it up-and-down out of the left bunker. Made 5-footer for par at 15. 16, I tapped in after getting it up-and-down from short of the bunker. Kind of where I started to drive the ball very poorly. What I thought was a good 3-iron into 17, it wasn't enough. Caught a gust. Nearly made that. Hit a 12-footer for birdie at 18. And drove it right both at 1 and 2. Made bogeys at both of those holes: 1 and 2. I didn't -- had a horrible lie at 1. Couldn't even play it at the green. Second hole, didn't get it up-and-down from the left-hand bunker. 5-footer in there.
Q. Can you speak up a wee bit for those of us back here?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Drove it right again at 4. 2-putted for a good par at 3. Drove it right at 4. Made good 2-putt for par there. Then missed 5 and 6 from inside, eight feet at both holes. Finally made it at 7 from about eight feet. Made it from about 30 feet at 8. And then kind of a sloppy par at 9. But --
Q. Birdies on 7 and 8, Dottie?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Yes.
Q. What did you hit into those greens?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Hit 5-iron and 7-iron.
Q. What is a sloppy par, in your terms?
DOTTIE PEPPER: When you don't make birdie from 80 yards out, that is sloppy.
Q. How close did you put the shot?
DOTTIE PEPPER: 25 feet. I hit the ball certainly better than I did last week; I still got some work to do. But, all and all, I rolled the ball pretty well today. Didn't leave myself much if I did have a lengthy birdie. Putt speed was really good. Other than driving the ball and putting myself on defense a couple of times, I struck the ball pretty well.
Q. You don't seem all that pleased with your round.
DOTTIE PEPPER: No. I drove the ball real poorly for a golf course this wide. I was in a few fairway bunkers.
Q. You had some top 10 finishes at the start of the year. Can you assess what has happened --
DOTTIE PEPPER: No. Won't go there. (laughs). I am still working at it. Let us put it that way.
Q. Certain courses such as this one, do you take advantage of the practice bunker or the driving range? Do you use it often?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Until yesterday - yeah, but it was under water until yesterday, so it -- they dried out on top and they are still firm underneath. Val Skinner got a couple of lies on fairway bunkers. They kind of rolled in and fell over and deep and really, really -- might as well have been in a hazard because you couldn't advance the ball hardly at all. It was the same thing that I had at the first hole. It just fell into that real soft stuff and it is firm underneath, so it just went right to the bottom. But, you know, considering where it was two days ago, the golf course is in great shape. Pretty darn wet on Tuesday.
Q. How close are you to playing at your best?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Got a ways to go.
Q. 70%? Less?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Probably less. But not -- haven't been a very happy camper the last two and a half, three months the way I have struck the ball, really. So, we have got a lot of work to do.
Q. Was this at all encouraging or was the driving --
DOTTIE PEPPER: It was encouraging. Hit some very good long irons today. I managed my way around the golf course real well. I would have had a really low number on the board had I driven the ball better. But I did drive the ball great coming in. the last three drives were perfect. I take some good stuff from that. Seemed to struggle with the wind at my back, over my left shoulder; when it was left-to-right is when I struggled. I am still working on a bit of spin-out. My alinement has been lousy, making a couple of compensations to deal with that. And, as a result, I have hit some very weak shots over the last three, four months and working on that. It doesn't happen overnight.
Q. Is this just a slump or is this something that crept into your swing?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I think you get a little lazy and I neglected my alinement, which is the foundation - where it all begins. And, working myself further right -- the alinement, I made a compensation in my golf swing. Now we will keep my way back left again. So it is a little untidy.
Q. Through your career, have you had those peaks and valleys; this is no new ground?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Unfortunately, this isn't.
Q. Who is your teacher?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Todd Ossoff.
Q. How often does he come out? I think I saw him at Dinah.
DOTTIE PEPPER: He is out whenever I make a phone call which is great. He owns his own golf course, family run operation and I lived with he and his wife when I first came to Florida, so as long as he is not missing the Oldsmobile Scrambler or the PGA Championship, he could be out every week. Works out kind of nice.
Q. Where is he based?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Near Youngstown, Ohio.
Q. He is a club pro?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Professional, yeah.
Q. You were on your hot streak last summer. What kind of feeling was that like? Was that like nothing-to-go-wrong type of thing?
DOTTIE PEPPER: No. It wasn't that. Because it wasn't -- it wasn't easy. I worked hard through that whole thing. Wasn't like I just pegged it and went, but I was getting a lot out of my practice. I was aligned properly, so there was no compensations. You know, just everything fell together and I had one swing thought that continued through basically six months. You know, something doesn't work forever. I needed to get back to work on what is going to make me improve.
Q. What was that swing thought?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I can't tell you. I would have to shoot you (laughs).
Q. Having been a top a player since 1991 makes you think maybe you are big too hard on yourself?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Probably. But, that is what makes me better. I am not one to be satisfied in the gray area. And, that is probably why I have maintained the level I have since 1991. I am not out here to finish second and not out here to hit 11, 12, greens a today. I like to be putting for birdie and not from 50 feet away like I have been. Second is just -- it is fine. The count loves it. But I don't. So that is what keeps pushing you.
Q. Is it something that could just turn for you tomorrow?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Sure. It could. But got a little sloppy and just needed to really pay attention to my alinement and recorrect the -- for the compensations that I made for the alinement.
Q. Did you see this coming or was it just when you hit the wall you go: "I have lost it?"
DOTTIE PEPPER: No, I could see it coming. You lose a couple of yards here, a couple of yards there, and you know something is not quite right. So you tinker a little bit and you get by for a few more days. But, time to address the issue as it stands. You go through that. I went through that last summer when I missed the cut at the Open. It was time to address the issue as it stands. And, I was playing poorly, and it was time to find out why.
Q. When was that this time, a month ago?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Last week.
Q. You have been tinkering for a while up until last week?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Yes.
Q. Last time, though, it didn't take you that long, did it?
DOTTIE PEPPER: No. That is part of the reason I am taking next week off because I will go home and just hibernate and hit balls for an entire week and hopefully be ready for the late spring and early summer. But, it is also very hard to maintain the level that I set last summer. It is not easy. I took some time off in October and got a little rusty and didn't really address the issues that well. Now, it is time to get back in the ballgame.
Q. What do you do when you are not playing golf then; when you were getting rusty?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I didn't play golf, I can tell you that. I tinkered around the house; went to the beach; did skiing. I did everything I should have been doing, but it is time to get back to playing golf.
Q. Should this tournament possibly play under tougher conditions since it is like a Major? There are a lot of low scores. This is the third year the tournament here seems like every round there is a lot of -- would you prefer a tougher course or does it matter to you?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I think it takes every golf course to make the Tour what it is. And, yeah, you can play every golf tournament under hard condition and it would be fine with me. But, people want to see, when they turn on CBS Sunday or Saturday afternoon, they don't want to see what they saw at JAL last October, that one person finishing with par. They don't want to see that. And, I don't want to get beat up every week either. We were all exhausted after 54 holes there.
Q. Certainly not every week but, --
DOTTIE PEPPER: No.
Q. -- but certain important events?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Certain weeks I think we have it. I think we do have it. You know, this golf course is not that easy if they let the rough grow up and the wind blows, it is not that easy. You can tuck pins out here and make it extremely difficult. It is not that the golf course can't be made difficult. But, you know I think there is a place for every event. And just because we are playing for a million dollars doesn't mean you have to shoot even par to win. The guys play for that every week and they are 20-under and that is okay. So, I don't think that is necessarily an important issue. They play for a lot more than that every week, actually.
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Anymore questions for Dottie? Thanks.
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