FORMER CHAMPION Thirteen years after title, Beth Daniel back at Squaw Creek
She hasn't played this course in 10 years. It was much different then.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORT STAFF
VIENNA -- It's been 10 years since Beth Daniel played at Squaw Creek Country Club and 13 years since she won on this golf course.
Daniel is in the field for the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic, but she says she doesn't remember much about the course.
"I'm usually pretty good at remembering courses I've played, but I really don't remember much about this one," she said. "I remember some holes, like No. 1 and No. 18, although the nines were reversed back then, when we played here."
Daniel is enjoying a fine season on tour this year. She finished second in the McDonald's LPGA Championship and has had two other top 10 finishes.
"It is entirely due to hard work," Daniel said. "My back still bothers me at times, but this year I have been working very hard on my golf game.
"I just love to practice, I love to hit balls on the range," she added. "If I'm not playing I'm practicing this year and it has showed in my game."
Daniel was the winner of the first LPGA tournament ever held in the Valley in 1990 when she defeated Patty Sheehan on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Phar-Mor in Youngstown.
The weather was horrible that year and the tournament had to be finished on Monday because the course was unplayable on Sunday.
Daniel went on to win the LPGA Player of the Year in 1990. She won the Phar-Mor at Inverrary the next spring, returning to Squaw Creek in the summer of 1991 as the defending champion and winner of the last two Phar-Mor events.
What made the pressure even greater was the $1 million bonus pool that Phar-Mor put up for the player who could win both tournaments in the same year.
Pressure added difficulty
"I had won both tournaments back-to-back, but not in the same year," Daniel added. "Now I had to try and win three straight Phar-Mor events and there was a lot of expectations that week and it was difficult."
In 1992 Daniel came back for her third trip to the Valley and finished in a tie for first place, but lost to Betsy King in a sudden-death playoff that also included Meg Mallon and Donna Andrews.
Daniel likes Squaw Creek Country Club.
"I do know that they made it longer than when we played here before," she said. "I know on No. 13 that you can't get home in two now.
"I'm not saying that this golf course is a perfect fit for my game, but I have played well here," she continued.
"You have to be able to move the ball off the tee here. Long hitters who can do that will do well here, but it still keeps the shorter hitters in the game," she said.