Quick Round With Beth Daniel

By Randall MellAugust 28, 2009, 4:00 pm
American captain Beth Daniel helped put a much-needed jolt in womens golf last weekend leading the U.S. Solheim Cup team to victory against the Europeans.
 
Daniel, a Hall of Famer, orchestrated a memorable week filled with colorful moments that reminded golf fans whats right about womens golf. That was no easy task with so much focus this season on whats wrong with the LPGA. For a riveting week, the Solheim Cup steered attention away from leadership woes and title sponsorship problems and gave the tour some positive momentum.
 
Beth Daniel
Beth Daniel poses with the Solheim Cup trophy after winning the 11th edition. (Getty Images)
Its a week that will be remembered for Michelle Wies fiery emergence as a team force, Paula Creamers seizing of the reins as the American teams undisputed team leader, Christina Kims controversial cheerleading role, Juli Inksters poignant farewell and the European teams spirited challenge in making the team event worth watching.
 
Golf fans responded to the high level of play over three days at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
 
The LPGA reported record attendance, with the crowd estimates of 120,000 for the week surpassing the previous mark of 103,000 at Crooked Stick four years ago. The tour also reported record merchandise sales.
 
Senior writer Randall Mell caught up with Daniel for a quick round:
 
So do you get to go to the White House to celebrate the victory with President Obama?
 
Ive heard a few rumblings that we do have an invite to see President Obama, which would be pretty cool. One of the benefits is that we all get to come back together and reminisce about what happened.
 
What was best part of the week for you?
 
Everybody kept saying we were such favorites, that they never heard of several of Europes players. The Europeans came over, and they proved what great players they are. I think it just kind of showed that there is so much more to womens golf than what people care to see. Womens golf is very deep all over the world, including Europe. Just because players are more comfortable at home and dont choose to play in the United States doesnt mean they arent great players. That was the most gratifying thing.
 
Given the level of play, do you think talk of expanding the Solheim Cup to include more of the world has been squashed?
 
Even though the score seems lopsided, 16-12, it was much closer than that. It could have gone either way on Sunday. Our players dug deep and made a couple of key putts when they needed to make them. Its a great competition, it really is, and I think if you make it bigger, and include the whole world, you lose a little bit of the intimacy.
 
What got into Michelle Wie?
 
Im so proud of her. She gave us everything she had that week. When (assistant captains) Kelly Robbins and Meg Mallon and I picked her, we knew she was a great player, a great match player, that we had to pick her, but there was always the unknown with her. How much will she get into this team competition? Starting with the practice rounds after the British Open, she was 100 percent into it, and 100 percent into what she needed to do to help the team. She was phenomenal. She said that was the best golf shes played in her career, and I think it might be.
 
Juli Inkster believes Wie will win before the year is out? What do you think?
 
I told Michelle on Monday morning, before she flew out, just to carry this emotion with her, carry this love for the game into the rest of the year and shell be just fine. I think thats something thats been lacking from her over the last couple years. In 07, I was paired with her at the British Open at St. Andrews and she just did not want to play at that point in time. She had so much fun at the Solheim Cup; she enjoyed the week so much. She was under a lot of pressure and responded every single time. If she can carry that out as an individual, she will be fine, and I do see her winning.
 
Tell us something about Paula Creamer we may not know?
 
This is now Paulas team. It is. Paula is the Solheim Cup for the United States. She is the leader, and the players all look to her. She transforms that week. She kind of keeps to herself during the year. Even me, knowing her, when I see her at LPGA events, she sometimes doesnt open up to me. As soon as she steps foot at the Solheim Cup, she transforms into this person who is truly the team leader. She deserves a ton of credit. They all look to her: What are we going to do? What is the team going to be like? Shes the one. I think it became Paulas team after Crooked Stick (in 2005). There were a lot of veterans starting to wind down their careers. We werent going to play Solheim Cup anymore. Crooked Stick was a mix of veteran and younger players. It was Paulas rookie year. In Sweden (in 07), she was such a leader by example, and she did the exact same thing in Chicago. In my mind it is Paula Creamers team from here on out, as long as she wants it to be.
 
What is it about Paula? The combination of skill and the respect she commands?
 
Yes. She leads by example. Its why we put her out No. 1 in singles on Sunday. I said to Meg and Kelly, this is Paulas baby. This Solheim Cup is hers, and its her responsibility to go out first, but I know Paula can handle it. She had a very tough match with Suzann Pettersen, and she ended up pulling that out. As the captain, you know you can always count on her. I counted on her, and she came through.
 
Christina Kims been criticized for questionable sportsmanship with her crowd interaction. What do you think?
 
That is Christina. If you go back and look at the tapes at Crooked Stick, she did the exact same things. Meg and I sat her down early last week, and we told her to kind of tone it down. She just cant do it. Thats her. People say shes being unsportsmanlike, but if you look closely at the tapes, she celebrates when she does something, and she gets the crowd into it, but as soon as it is the other players turn to hit, she quiets the crowd. She is never standing near their line, shes off to the fringe of the green. She gives them the stage. She doesnt have an unsportsmanlike bone in her body. Thats truly her spirit coming out. Shes very comfortable with who she is and has no problems with that. Thats Christina Kim.
 
Did the European team complain to you?
 
The Europeans werent happy, and I wouldnt have been happy, either. But the thing is, if Christina was playing poorly, she wouldnt have been able to get the crowd fired up. She played well. I know they werent happy about it, they werent happy about it at all. Thats the thing about match play, things like that happen, and its unfortunate. People take it personally. Christina doesnt have an unsportsmanlike bone in her body. Thats 100 percent who Christina Kim is. She never changes. The people who see her on a day-to-day basis know shes like that when she is in contention at LPGA tournaments. I tried to emphasize to my players early in the week, its all part of match play. Gamesmanship is part of match play. Dont let it get to you. Dont even look at them. Its one of the things you try to teach in match play. I tell you what, the crowd was loud and very much in our favor, but the crowd was also polite. When the Europeans hit good shots, they applauded as well.
 
What did Beth Daniel uniquely contribute as captain?
 
I think every team gets a bit of their captains personality, and I think thats why some players have a better experience with some captains than others. Whether they wanted it or not, they were going to get some of my personality, and they got that. What I wanted is for them to have fun, win or lose, to have great memories of the week, and I think I definitely accomplished that.
 
For you, what was the weeks biggest surprise?
 
To me it was how well they played that golf course. It was a really difficult golf course, and I saw great shot after great shot. Not that I didnt have faith in them as great players, but I thought the golf course was going to give them more trouble than it did. It was amazing how well they played under that kind of pressure.
 
Rich Harvest Farms got some criticism as a venue. What did you think of the course?

I said all along I thought it would be a great venue for match play. I would hate to tee it up and have to count my ball every shot, but I think for match play it worked out well. I have read a lot of things about the golf course that have not been positive, which is unfortunate. Every golf course has its holes that people dont like, or they debate over, this golf course definitely has that, but, personally, I think its a better golf course than some of the other venues weve played the Solheim Cup or even the U.S. Open. Every course can be debated, and no course is going to be perfect. The bottom line is that you have to figure out how to play it.
 
So tell us about the dinner and movie date with Justin Timberlake that the team is eager to collect.
 
I asked the Golf Channel if they could get Justin Timberlake to wish us good luck on camera. Brandel Chamblee got him. The team adores Justin Timberlake. We kept it as a secret the whole time. Ive had this clip since before the McDonalds LPGA Championship. We put it into a video with other well wishes, from some PGA Tour players, Tim Finchem as well. Justin Timberlake told us to Bring home the cup, and if you do, Ill take you out to dinner and a movie. The players all went berserk. I showed it Thursday night right before Opening Ceremonies. Well see how that works out.
 
Whats next for Beth Daniel?
 
Im doing TV work at the P&G Beauty Northwest Arkansas Championship in two weeks, and a few of us are going to the Presidents Cup to watch and have fun. Thats about it for now.
 
Email your thoughts to Randall Mell
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.