March 16, 2009

Beth Daniel

America's Solheim Cup captain weighs in on her Cubs cameo, Michelle Wie and a lot more

Beth Daniel is captain of this year's United States Solheim Cup team. But in that job, being one of the greatest LPGA players ever is not enough. You have to do more.

Grillroom: What other sports have you played to promote America's event at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago?

Daniel: I shot a puck at a Blackhawks game. Never done that before. I live in Florida, so I don't see much ice. They put a board in front of the net and cut a hole in it. Missed it three times, but got it to within gimme length.

Nervous?

Not as bad as throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game. I was a wreck. But I didn't cheat. Went to the top of the mound, from the rubber.

Given the venue, might President Obama hit the first drive at the Solheim Cup?

That would be nice, but I think he's got a few other things on his agenda.

You were the last American to win LPGA Player of the Year. But that was 1994. What's going on?

Isn't that crazy? If you would have told me that 14 years ago, I'd have said 'no way.' It's not like this country hasn't produced some great young golfers. I'm baffled.

And you'll probably have several twentysomethings on your team. All of whom will be in awe of you, right?

Oh, no. Some of them weren't even born when I was playing, which is fine. And many of the girls I know well and have played with. I don't think of myself as a legend.

But you're the oldest to win an LPGA tournament at 46.

Is that a record I should be proud of? I expect Juli Inkster to break that, and I certainly think she'd be great on our team. An amazing competitor.

What can Ryder Cup fans expect from the Solheim Cup?

Very similar. It's golf's Olympics. Our players will be cheered in Chicago, but maybe one-third of the fans will be there from Europe. There will be a buzz.

Especially if Michelle Wie is on your team.

You're not the first to ask about her. Everywhere I go, that's the question I get most. Will Michelle Wie be on the team? The answer is, if she plays well enough, yes.