'This has obviously been a very tough couple of weeks for me since the U.S. Women's Open, but I have complete faith in my medical team and the results of the tests,' said Pepper. 'My shoulder just isn't ready for the daily grind of tour golf yet. Withdrawing from the Solheim Cup was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make, but at the same time, it was also very easy because I simply would not be able to represent my team and my country the way I feel I could.
'Keeping the big picture in mind, I will return to the LPGA Tour full-time in 2003, but taking my spot on the team in September merely because I earned the necessary points would be selfish. I will be at the matches cheering my teammates on to victory, but I just won't be inside the ropes playing.'
Pepper, currently fourth in the 2002 U.S. Solheim Cup team points standings, will be replaced on the team by the 11th-ranked player in the standings at the points deadline of Sept. 1, following the State Farm Classic. Emilee Klein is currently ranked 11th.
'It's very disappointing that Dottie will miss the Solheim Cup this year,' said U.S. Solheim Cup team captain Patty Sheehan. 'Dottie is a tremendous competitor and we will miss her play tremendously, but I am happy she has agreed to be a part of Team USA in a supportive role. I can think of no greater patriot for our team to have in its corner as we make a charge to bring the Cup back to the States once again.'
'I am very grateful to Captain Patty Sheehan for wanting me to remain a part of her team, and I will do what I can to help her before and during the week of the Solheim Cup,' said Pepper, who is the only U.S. player to have played in all six previous competitions.
Pepper underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in her left shoulder on March 1 at the Hughston Clinic in Columbus, Ga. She returned to competitive golf in late June at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, but experienced recurring pain and stiffness in the shoulder prior to the U.S. Women's Open.
After withdrawing from the Women's Open, Pepper returned to the Hughston Clinic for further evaluation and anti-inflammatory therapy. A contrast MRI on July 16 showed only irritation to the joint capsule and tendonosis of the rotator cuff tendons. No further structural damage was found.
Pepper said the flare-up was caused by a chain of events beginning with a lack of stamina in the shoulder area and extensive treatment at the U.S. Women's Open. According to Pepper's surgeon, Dr. Champ Baker, this setback is in no way career-threatening, but both feel it is in Pepper's best interest to take the remainder of the 2002 season to fully recover with no pressing timeline for a return. Pepper is expected to resume a full schedule in 2003.
'I am saddened to hear that Dottie will miss the remainder of the season, including The Solheim Cup,' said LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw. 'Dottie is a wonderful player, a fierce competitor and has been the heart and soul of the U.S. Solheim Cup teams in past Solheim Cup matches, so she will be sorely missed. I know Dottie will work hard the rest of the year to heal her shoulder 100 percent, and we look forward to seeing her tee it up again in 2003.'