Chat with Dottie Pepper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, former LPGA Tour veteran-turned golf TV analyst Dottie Pepper drops by to chat from Pinehurst, N.C., the site of the 2014 U.S. Open.
Pepper joined ESPN in 2013, following eight years at the Golf Channel and NBC Sports. Her TV career began after she retired from the LPGA Tour in 2004, following 16 years on the Tour and 17 wins, including two majors. In 2013, Pepper also joined the PGA of America board of directors to work on developing junior golf in the United States.
Send your questions now and join Pepper Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (11:46 AM)
Dottie is here!
Ed (San Diego)
Hello Dottie. What do you think of the chances of a guy like Jimmy Walker this week? He seems to be able to par you to death. Guys like Russell Henley, Kevin Na and Chris Kirk seem to be under the radar as well.
Dottie Pepper (11:47 AM)
I think it's as wide open a week as we've seen coming into a U.S. Open as we've seen. First because of the new looking golf course and second because of the way the PGA season has gone this year. No one has been dominant. Jimmy has the game, but what really happens when the possibility of winning an Open looms large?
what's the thing that the average fan might not fully understand about playing in a major like the us open?
Dottie Pepper (11:48 AM)
Everything just seems to be blown up larger, brighter, bigger when you come to a major championship. There are more eyeballs, more media. When you come to a USGA event, it's something that you deal with once a year. People think that it's just another PGA event, but it's not. It's a USGA event.
What is the biggest impact the restoration will have on the play this week?
Dottie Pepper (11:49 AM)
The unpredictability will be fantastic. If you miss the fairway by 5 feet, will you have a good lie or will you be in vegetation waist high? You don't know what you're going to get. In past Opens, if you didn't hit the fairway, you were chopping out. I like this way better.
Jeff (DC )
With the changes made to the course, does previous experience playing there make any difference now?
Dottie Pepper (11:50 AM)
The routing hasn't changed. They changed four and five. Some portions of the greens are essentially the same. But the rest of it doesn't look or feel the same.
Ryan (San Diego)
biggest dark horse this week?
Dottie Pepper (11:51 AM)
Miguel Angel Jimenez. Five top 5s in Europe. He played well at the Masters. He's got it going in the right direction.
What's the weather supposed to be like this week?
Dottie Pepper (11:52 AM)
They're talking about late storms today. It's much hotter and drier than it's been. Thursday has a forecast for storms. It will make it faster, but this course drains well. It's 90 right now, but only 47% humidity, so it's dry. Softening the golf course with rain on Thursday could put a monkey wrench into play, with pushing some groupings around.
Will we see traditional U.S. Open scoring this week?
Dottie Pepper (11:53 AM)
I do. Very much so. If you look at this golf course, if the average golfer comes to play, it's a Par 72. They made it a Par 70. So a 278-280 would be a great score this week. I would look for it to be about the same this year.
For guys new to Pinehurst, do you think there's a better chance one of them could win, since everyone will be playing on basically a new course, due to the restoration?
Dottie Pepper (11:55 AM)
I think so. There is certainly space for a first time player to win. Who do you look for at the top of that list? Jordan Spieth. Henrik Stenson. No Swede has ever won a major championship, so he could break through and win for the first time.
How much does the PGA frown upon chewing or dipping tobacco? I have not seen much of Dufner dipping on the course of late and I just wonder if that is by his own doing or someone is in his ear about it. Also, do you think his short putter misses are just something in his head or mechanical?
Dottie Pepper (11:55 AM)
I think it's more confidence with his putting than anything else. The way it zaps your momentum and energy when you miss them early and impacts your play. It's the same thing going on with Phil Mickelson.
Thoughts on the back to back playing at Pinehurst #2 for the men's U.S. Open and then the women's U.S. Open and are there any concerns for the women relating to the course after the men play?
Dottie Pepper (11:57 AM)
No. I am thinking this is way more positive than negative. The negative I see is this Thursday's weather forecast that could impact play and possibly a Monday finish or playoff. But they are talking about this women's U.S. Open more this year than I can ever remember it. The turf conditions are perfect for that this year.
Keith H (Seattle)
After seeing the course changes on Golf Channel last night, while there's no "rough", off the fairway still looks pretty imposing. Would you agree that hitting fairways is still the premium at a US Open despite no ankle deep rough?
Dottie Pepper (11:58 AM)
It's even more at a premium than it's been before, because of the unpredictability of what you might face. Hitting the ball in play will be a huge premium this week.
Mike P (Greater KC MEtro)
Can you expand on the thinking the USGA did in making Pinehurst have no rough this weekend. It seems to me to not be a US OPEN without calf deep rough to whack out of.
Dottie Pepper (11:58 AM)
I think this puts a whole new light on the U.S. Open and really takes it back to a restored golf course. If anything it makes the light shine brighter and not dull it any.
Tucker in Raleigh, NC. [via mobile]
Having attended the 05 Open, which hole do you think is most affected by the restoration? Also what is your opinion of the changes to the 4th and 5th? One more do you think driving will still be a premium? Thanks.
Dottie Pepper (12:00 PM)
I like the changes. And the fourth was originally a par-4 hole when it was first made. The fairway is brought more into play. I like the changes. The hole most impacted is probably the tee shot at 11. They have really brought it in from the left side. If they extend the sixth hole back, it could be one of the most brutal par 3s we've seen at a U.S. Open.
Dottie Pepper (12:01 PM)
I would encourage everyone to watch the coverage this week. Thanks for chatting.