Pepper back in the U.S. Solheim Cup family

By Randall MellJuly 4, 2012, 8:00 pm

KOHLER, Wis. – They haven’t forgotten what Dottie Pepper said.

They haven’t all necessarily forgiven her stinging rebuke, either.

But Americans who played on the U.S. Solheim Cup team that Pepper blasted in 2007 are ready to embrace the return of one of history’s most dominant American Solheim Cup players.

They say they’re ready to move on with Pepper, 46, back in their ranks as an assistant captain for next year’s matches at Colorado Golf Club.

“I don’t think it’s all forgiven, but everyone deserves a second chance,” said Cristie Kerr, who was on that ’07 American team. “People say stupid things, sometimes. It is what it is. But you know what? She’s a damn good commentator. She does a lot of great TV, and she is one of the greatest American players who have played the game. She’s also human. I think it’s what makes her great. She’s going to be a great addition to the team. I’ve talked to some of the other players, and we’re all really excited about it.”

U.S. captain Meg Mallon couldn’t have welcomed Pepper back to the ranks on a more fitting day.

The Fourth of July was a red, white and Dottie day at the U.S. Women’s Open with Mallon making the announcement in the media center. Pepper once dyed her hair red for the Solheim Cup and used to paint her fingernails and toe nails red, white and blue. She played on six Solheim Cup teams and built a 13-5-2 record, 5-1 in singles. Pepper’s 14 career points are third most in the American ranks, trailing only Juli Inkster (18½) and Mallon (16).

“Dottie was arguably the face of the Solheim Cup in the ‘90s,” Mallon said. “She carried it very well and wore red, white and blue on her sleeve. She was unabashedly patriotic.”

Even the Euros will vouch for Pepper being the face of the American Solheim Cup team.

Back at the ’98 Solheim Cup at Muirfield Village, the Euros became so infuriated with Pepper that they put her photo on a punching bag and took turns whacking it.

Pepper’s place in the Cup’s annals, however, changed during the matches in ’07 in Sweden. That’s where she called the Americans “Choking freaking dogs.” She blurted the comment as a Golf Channel analyst believing she was off the air for commercial. She made the comment after Sherri Steinhauer missed a short putt that would have closed out a Saturday foursomes match.

Morgan Pressel was one of seven Americans on that ’07 team who also played in last year’s Solheim Cup and remains a factor to make next year’s team.

“Obviously, she made a mistake,” Pressel said. “We were all emotionally involved out there, and she was too, having been on so many Solheim Cups. I’m sure it was hard for her to be impartial, but it’s been five years. Time heals a lot of things.”

Pressel, whose temperament is often compared to Pepper’s, is looking forward to the chemical equation Pepper will bring.

“This is a good thing for golf,” Pressel said. “It’s good to hear her name talked about in a Solheim Cup again. She’s about as fiery as they come, so we will have a pretty pumped up locker room.”

Pepper’s alienation for so long included the feeling that she didn’t apologize enough, that she didn’t reach out to injured parties enough. Pepper believes she did.

“I put my head on a platter,” Pepper said. “There’s not a day, really, that goes by that I don’t regret that it happened.”

Hall of Famer Beth Daniel was an assistant captain to Betsy King in ‘07. Daniel, who captained the winning American team in ’09, believes there are still some tender wounds from the incident, but she believes Pepper’s return will work very well.

“For some people, there’s closure, but I think for other people there probably isn’t,” Daniel said. “It’s just one of those things. There are probably a few bridges to be mended, but the timing is good. And like Meg said, it’s time for people to give it a break.”

Daniel remembers the furor Pepper’s comment caused, but she never actually heard the comment until she returned home and watched the videotape replay.

“When I got home and watched the video, I just busted out laughing,” Daniel said. “When you heard somebody tell it there, it’s different than when you actually hear it. When you heard it, you realized Dottie was just so passionately involved in the match, it was just emotion coming out. It was like she was playing that match. I think if she had been in that match, she would have been the first one to come into the locker room and say, `I was a choking freaking dog.’ It was totally passion.”

Though Pepper’s comment added to King’s challenge as captain in ’07, she expressed no qualms about Pepper’s return to the matches.

“Obviously, Meg feels Dottie will make a great assistant captain,” King said in a telephone interview from her Pennsylvania home. “Dottie’s been a big part of a lot of Solheim Cups, and I think she will be a great assistant.”

So does Hall of Famer Judy Rankin, a two-time U.S. Solheim Cup captain.

“Meg and I had a long talk, and I was all for this,” Rankin said. “I don’t want to say it was all silly, it wasn’t silly, but any of us can get overly emotional watching any competition we really care about. I think most of us say something that we wouldn’t like heard when we are rooting or we are frustrated. But, it’s over and out and done.”

When Pepper stepped off the stage Wednesday in the media center, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan gave her a hug.

“Welcome back,” Whan said.

Whan’s words usher in a new chapter in Pepper’s Solheim Cup legacy.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.