Laura Diaz appointed US Solheim Cup vice captain
Laura Diaz was appointed vice captain of the U.S. Solheim Cup
team Wednesday, pairing her with Dottie Pepper six years after
their friendship seemingly ended over Pepper’s blunt televised
comment during the matches.
Diaz, selected by captain Meg Mallon to join Pepper as an
assistant for the August matches against Europe at Colorado Golf
Club, was the most vocal critic after Pepper referred to the U.S.
players as ”chokin’ freakin’ dogs” during Golf Channel’s coverage
of the 2007 event. Believing the network was in a commercial break,
Pepper made the comment after Diaz and Sherri Steinhauer settled
for a halve when Steinhauer missed a 3-foot putt on the 18th.
”I think in most friendships words are said that people don’t
like,” Diaz said at the LPGA Founders Cup. ”Sometimes it takes a
little time to get over and sometimes it takes a longer time. …
We both are very passionate about the Solheim Cup.
”As much as Dottie and I have shared, I’ve known Dottie since I
was 10 years old, so there’s a lot more that goes into it than just
she was a commentator. I would like to believe that she was playing
that match with me and she was feeling what I was feeling and words
came out that, you know, they were just words.”
Pepper reiterated that she thought she was off the air when she
made the comment.
”I made one crucial mistake,” Pepper said. ”It was breaking a
broadcast rule that you’re never supposed to root and I did, and
the switch wasn’t off when I did and I said something that I have
said to myself numerous times and it happened to go out over the
air. But I think the thing that is most important to remember about
the Solheim Cup itself is that while it drives passion and that can
sometimes scar a friendship, Solheim Cup is also way bigger to mend
Mallon thinks the fiery duo will make perfect assistants.
”If they’re OK with it, the rest of us are OK with it and I’m
happy to see this,” Mallon said. ”And I’m no dummy. These two
love this event and they should be together enjoying this event
together, so I’m happy about it.”
Diaz plans to play a full schedule this season and hopes to
qualify for the U.S. team.
”When I talked to Laura about it, I knew she was playing a
full-time schedule and I felt that Laura could easily have a big
year this year and make the team,” Mallon said. ”I felt that she
could do both, be a playing assistant if that came around, so I
didn’t have a problem with that whatsoever. I just knew I needed
Laura on this team and by our side.”
Diaz, a four-time Solheim Cup player, won her two LPGA Tour
titles in 2002.
”It is the greatest honor in my career,” Diaz said. ”When Meg
asked me, I was really just in awe, surprised, shocked.”
Liselotte Neumann will captain the European team, with fellow
Swedes Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch serving as vice
Europe won the 2011 event in Ireland. The Americans lead the
series 8-4, going 6-0 at home.