Injury Forces Pepper to Call It Quits

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SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Dottie Pepper, a 17-time winner on the LPGA Tour, announced that she will retire at the end of the 2004 campaign.
 
'After much thought, prayer and conversation with my family and closest friends, I have decided with absolutely no sadness or regret to retire from the LPGA Tour at the end of the 2004 season,' she said in a statement from the U.S. Women's Open.
 
Pepper was scheduled to participate in the LPGA Tour's third major championship this week at Orchards Golf Club. She withdrew earlier in the week due to a compressed nerve in her neck.
 
Injuries have plagued the 38-year-old over the last three seasons. Pepper missed 11 weeks in 2000 with wrist and back injuries, then missed the entire 2002 season after surgery on an injured left shoulder. Over the past 18 months, Pepper has fought severe sinus infections and even a bout with Lyme Disease that have forced her to withdraw from numerous events.
 
'I am not able to prepare the way that I need to in order to contend and win,' said Pepper. 'The injuries have stopped making it enjoyable. I always said that golf was my job and treated it that way on and off the course 24/7. That was fine then.'
 
She debuted on the LPGA Tour in 1988 and posted seven top-10s in her rookie season. Pepper went on to capture 17 titles, including two majors. She won the Nabisco Championship in 1992 and 1999 and finished in the top-five 15 additional times in major championships.
 
Pepper is perhaps best known for her play at the Solheim Cup. She played on every American team from 1990-2000, amassing a 13-5-2 record. Pepper qualified for the 2002 biennial event, but could not play due to injury. Her 14 points tie her for first with Meg Mallon on the United States side.
 
The two-time major winner will retire with 21 points toward admittance to the World Golf Hall of Fame, six short of the required number.
 
Pepper plans to return from the neck injury and compete in six more tournaments. She will do television for NBC and ESPN, including this week's U.S. Women's Open.
 
'My future plans include television, something that I really love, bringing a team event for the LPGA to my hometown area in upstate New York, a retail opportunity in Jupiter, Florida and women's outerwear,' said Pepper. 'I plan to really enjoy these last three-and-a-half months on tour and becoming a little more normal, whatever that is.'
 
Statement from Dottie Pepper on her retirement from the LPGA Tour:
After much thought, prayer and conversation with my family and closest friends, I have decided with absolutely no sadness or regret to retire from the LPGA Tour at the end of the 2004 season.
 
This game has given me a life that, at this very event, my first U.S. Womens Open at Salem Country Club (Peabody, Mass.) in 1984, I only dreamed of and never believed I would really have.
 
The roller-coaster of injuries and rehab, though, have taken its toll. I am not able to prepare the way that I need to in order to contend and win. The injuries have stopped making it enjoyable. I always said that golf was my job and treated it that way on and off the course 24/7. That was fine then. This is no longer a job that I cant wait to get to every morning. I finally know theres a lot more to life than this golf thing, spiritually, physically and emotionally.
 
My life has become so fulfilling away from the course that it is time to move forward. My future plans include television, something that I really love, bringing a team event for the LPGA to my hometown area in upstate New York, a retail opportunity in Jupiter, Fla., and womens outerwear.
 
I plan to honor all of my contractual commitments with my endorsements ' The Dr. Pepper Company, MasterCard and Titleist ' and really enjoy these last three-and-a-half months on Tour and becoming a little more normal, whatever that is.
 
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