Pepper Mill: Augusta needs to bring back win and in

Pepper Mill: Augusta needs to bring back win and in

On my wish list: that the Masters would give
every PGA Tour winner in the past 12 months an invitation
to the year’s first major, a policy that was abandoned in 1999.

As a fan, my interest in the final tournament before Augusta was always heightened when there was the chance
of a Cinderella story. As a member of the media, I can promise
you that the win-and-in qualification would
add buzz to whatever event comes the week
before Augusta.

In November
the LPGA announced
that it would institute a
drug-testing program beginning in 2008 and
that the testing would be done by the National Center for Drug
Free Sport. Further details were nonexistent.

To me the announcement
seemed to be a preemptive strike devised to get
the LPGA on the map before the PGA Tour, which had been rumored
to be working on a plan of its own. Then, two weeks ago,
the LPGA released an extensive list of banned drugs.

O.K., fine.
But there were still no details about the frequency of testing,
the penalties for testing positive or how the LPGA will pay for
this expensive program. I think the LPGA is doing the right
thing in formulating this plan, but by releasing the details in
such a piecemeal fashion it looks desperate to make a pioneering
move instead of being patient and thorough. Wait until your
ducks are in a row before you start quacking.

Michelle Wie passed on a sponsor’s
exemption to next week’s Ginn Open, which means she may not
compete again until mid-May. I believe this break, literally and
figuratively, could be most fortunate. The joy of simply playing
the game was gone for Michelle after the pummeling she took
on the course over the last three months of 2006.

Let’s hope that
she shows up for the Ginn happy, healthy and refreshed for a
solid summer of LPGA events before entering Stanford
in the fall. Let’s also hope that the Wie family
rethinks the reported purchase of a house
in Palo Alto, where the entire clan will move
for Michelle’s college years.

I would rather see
Michelle live on campus. She might learn that
there’s more to life than golf; her game will be
better, long-term, from that lesson alone.

Dottie Pepper, a 17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for
NBC and Golf Channel, welcomes questions at [email protected].

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