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Original Issue

The Pepper Mill

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 (below) 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.

DRUGS, IN DRIBS AND DRABS 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'S BEST BREAK? 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