PARKER, Colo. – Dottie Pepper is enjoying being back in the mix at the Solheim Cup this week, but she isn’t sure what her return means for her chances of one day being named the American captain.
U.S. captain Meg Mallon made a surprising choice of Pepper as an assistant captain last year. Pepper, a dominant force in the Solheim Cup, alienated U.S. Solheim Cup players in ’07 when she thought she was off the air as an analyst for Golf Channel and called the Americans “choking freakin’ dogs.” Mallon surprised folks again last year when she named Laura Diaz her other assistant. Diaz was in the match that motivated Pepper’s remark and was one of the players most offended.
By bringing Pepper back into the fold as an assistant captain, Mallon appears to have opened the door to Pepper’s consideration as a future captain.
While Hall of Famer Juli Inkster is the clear frontrunner for the next American captaincy, Pepper is a logical choice to follow, given her LPGA and dominant Solheim Cup record.
“Logic does not come into this,” Pepper cracked. “Ask Larry Nelson. It doesn’t come into any of this. I don’t have a say in it. Honestly, my life is so good, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m OK with being Larry Nelson, too.”
Nelson is one of the most decorated Americans to be skipped over for the American Ryder Cup captain’s role.
Pepper, 47, said she’s just enjoying her support role this week, focusing on chores and tasks that make Mallon’s job easier and puts players in the best positions to perform. While Diaz has taken a “team mom” role, Pepper has handled the task of managing operational details for Mallon, which includes strategy in how to play Colorado Golf Club.
The next Solheim Cup will be played at the St. Leon-Rot golf course near Frankfurt, Germany, in 2015. Inkster is the favorite to be the American captain there, unless she wants to wait to captain on American soil. The 2017 Solheim Cup site in the United States has yet to be named.
The future captains are named by a committee that includes the last three American captains, the LPGA commissioner, the LPGA president and the head of the LPGA board.
Pepper was 13-5-2 in her six Solheim Cup appearances. Her 14 points are third most in the American record book. Only Juli Inkster (18½) and Mallon (16½) have scored more.
“I just thought it was important for Dottie to be back involved with the Solheim Cup,” Mallon said. “Arguably, she was the face of the Solheim Cup in the '90s. And I was on all those teams with her. And not being a part of it, for her, it wasn't right. And for the reasons, too. I mean, honestly, what happened, it was definitely a mountain out of a molehill.“People just needed to talk, and that's all I did, was just facilitate that.”
Mallon is on the committee that will name the next Solheim Cup captain.