Danielís Honesty At 1982 Womenís Open May Have Cost
By Rhonda Glenn, USGA
North Plains, Ill. Ė Time and place: 1982, Del Paso Country Club,
At the 1982 U.S. Womenís Open, Beth Daniel had high hopes.
The previous year, she had narrowly missed when Pat Bradley birdied
the 72nd hole to edge her by a stroke.
For Daniel, it was yet another disappointment in a USGA championship
she badly wanted to win. She had won the U.S. Womenís Amateur
in 1975 and 1977, proving she had the game to win on a USGA set-up
course, the accurate tee shots, sharp iron play and steady putting
that the USGA demands in a national championship.
As an amateur, she had tied for 24th in 1977.
In 1979, her first Womenís Open as a professional, she had placed
in the top 20. In 1980, she had vaulted into the top 10, then
the runner-up finish in 1981. Now, in 1982 at Del Paso Country
Club, Daniel was poised in the middle of another multiple win season
to finally capture another USGA gold medal.
JoAnne Gunderson Carner, who owned two Womenís Open titles, snapped
up the 36-hole lead at 69-70ó139, tying the 36-hole scoring record.
But Daniel shot a second consecutive 71 and ended the day just one
stroke away at 140. After yet another 71 in the third round,
Beth had the lead all to herself by two strokes at 213 over Janet
The fourth round dawned as a promising day of bright sunshine,
little wind and warm temperatures, just the sort of brilliant summer
day that could become so memorable if the championship became yours.
Daniel and Carner were paired together in the last pairing for
the final round, with Alex in the group just ahead. Alex began
with birdies on the first and third holes to go three under par
on the day, but so did Daniel, who was 5 under, three strokes ahead
of Carner and two ahead of Alex.
Carner fought back with a birdie at the sixth hole and drew into
a tie with Daniel, passing Alex by one stroke.
Then Daniel and Carner came to the green of the eighth hole.
What is it about the changing tide that so suddenly seems with
one player, then so abruptly turns and becomes the raging tide that
one must now swim against? And, what if that one player turns
the tide herself? What if, by one micro-second decision based
on the gnawing inner knowledge of right and wrong, one person risks
and loses everything? In one such moment on the eighth green,
Beth Daniel lost everything.
She was standing over her putt for par, ready to tap it into the
hole. She was tied for the lead on the final day of the Womenís
Daniel backed off the putt. "My ball moved," she
Carner said she hadnít seen the ball move. A USGA official
standing nearby hadnít seen the ball move. "No,"
said Daniel. "It moved. I always replace my ball
a certain way and when I looked down, the ball was no longer in
She replaced her ball, then putted into the hole. Bogey.
She fell out of the lead.
Beth Daniel went on bogey the 13th and finished the
day with a 76. Alex finished at 283 (-5) with Sandra
Haynie, Donna Horton White, Carner and Daniel at 289, four strokes
Had Daniel not called the penalty on herself would she have gone
on to win? No one knows. What seems important is that,
late in the championship, she was leading and penalized herself
for an infraction no one else saw.
Daniel never again came that close to winning the Womenís Open.
In 1990, she tied for sixth. Last year, she tied for seventh.
In this championship she was even par after 36 holes and within
six strokes of the lead.
Perhaps for Beth Daniel the tide will turn again.
Rhonda Glenn is the USGA Manager of Communications. E-mail her
with questions or comments.