News & ToursAugust 1, 2008

Laura Diaz Revisits 'Choking Freaking Dogs' comment

SUNNINGDALE, England -- As odd rounds go, the one Laura Diaz recorded Friday in the second round of the Ricoh Women's British Open was on the plus side of the international oddity scale. She made three eagles -- tying the LPGA record for a round -- and still failed to break par at Sunningdale Golf Club. It's not a round Diaz will likely forget soon, and as she showed afterward, she is a woman with a long memory.

After detailing the 72 that got her into the clubhouse after 36 holes at six-under-par 138, Diaz was asked if she has had a chance to tackle Dottie Pepper about the "choking freaking dogs" comment she uttered that accidentally made on the air during the Golf Channel broadcast of last year's Solheim Cup, referring to the American team of Diaz and Sherrie Steinhauer. "No," Diaz said, quickly adding: "Do you want me to? It would be my pleasure." And that's exactly what she did.

"I don't think I will ever in my life do an interview with her again," said Diaz, whose brother Ron Philo Jr., also a professional golfer, dated Pepper for two years while in college. "Dottie was like a family member to me and now she is not even a friend. It was a low blow. A golfer should know better."

Diaz said Pepper made one attempt to approach her, "But you can pretty much read me," Diaz said quite accurately, indicating Pepper thought better of the attempt.

"Johnny Miller had to apologize for [the pool boy] comment about Rocco [Mediate] but she never really apologized," Diaz said. Pepper did say on the air the next day that the comment was not intended to be heard on the air, but the U.S. Solheim Cup  team did not take that as a real apology. They felt it made no difference whether or not the comment was aired, they felt it should never have been said.

"As a commentator, you shouldn't talk with emotion," said Diaz, speaking with the emotion of a player whose feelings were hurt. "Sherrie and I were both hurt," Diaz said. "It was a heart thing. It hurt us in the heart. As a team, we decided not to talk about it."

As an individual, Diaz felt no such restrictions Friday at Sunningdale. And as a competitor, she is very much in the running as the Women's British heads into the weekend. Her 72 followed an opening-round 66 played when Sunningdale was pretty much defenseless.

"I said to my husband [and caddie Kevin] yesterday, 'I don't think I've ever played over here when it was this calm.' Today we had wind, we had rain, we had sun. This is what I'm used to."

Diaz has had a solid year -- 20th in scoring average, 23rd on the money list, a T-5 at the McDonald's LPGA Championship where she was in the hunt until the 71st hole -- and has been playing with a newfound calm the last couple of seasons since her first child, son Cooper, was born 2 1/2 years ago.

She boosted that tranquility this week by seeking out Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, the gurus of the Vision 54 philosophy. "I was talking to Suzann [Pettersen] about it and she suggested I talk with them," Diaz said. "We've worked on my commitment to shots, and that commitment has been really good for two days."  Two more days of that focus and she could be taking home her first major championship trophy to go with her other two LPGA titles. And she won't have to worry about talking to Dottie Pepper. She's not here this week.

--Ron Sirak

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