Daniels' Mother-Daughter Rivalry Teams Up in Women's Four-Ball May 27, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. By David Chmiel, USGA

Abbey Daniel (right) is competing with her mother, 2015 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur quarterfinalist Kay Daniel, this week. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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Kay Daniel thought it would be a great idea to play with her daughter, Abbey, in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

Abbey, a 16-year-old who just finished her sophomore year of high school and the 2016 Louisiana Girls’ Junior champion, declined.

“She just shot me down,” said Kay, 46. “She played with her friend Julia Johnson. They lost in a playoff to get into match play. Then she said we could play together, so I guess she was throwing me a bone.”

As a result, the only mother-daughter team in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship field was created. Kay may be an orthodontist, but it shouldn’t have been like pulling teeth to get Abbey to partner up with her. After all, she played collegiate golf for Mississippi State University, was the 2005 Louisiana Women’s Amateur champion and made it to the quarterfinals of the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Squire Creek Country Club in her home state of Louisiana – the Daniels live in Covington.

But golf is a full-contact sport in the Daniel house. Abbey, who got to compete at Augusta National in the finals of the 2015 Drive, Chip & Putt Championship agrees – grudgingly – that older brother, Nick, who will play for Louisiana Tech University in the fall, is the best player in the house.

Team Daniel finished the first round of stroke play at 1-over 73 on Saturday at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Sporting matching neon-green golf skirts and shoes that bore a passing resemblance to a Jackson Pollack painting, they lamented missed putts but nothing else in their inaugural event on the same side. 

“Our games go together,” Abbey said. “I am aggressive. I go for pins and par 5s in two. She is a little bit shorter and more consistent. She analyzes the game more, so she helps me take a step back, slow down and focus more.”

“It’s a whole different world with her game,” Kay said. “She has so much power and hits these three-quarter, low-punch spinner shots that I could never hit. If I tried it, I wouldn’t get enough clubhead speed to get any spin, and she reads greens better than I do.”

It’s hard to believe that the pair never played together, until you realize just how competitive Abbey is.

“She started playing when she was 6,” Kay said, “and with me being a golfer, she wanted to hit it farther than me, she wanted to beat me. It was her whole world, her whole goal. She is a better golfer than me now, especially in her potential and her ability to make birdies. And even though I am more consistent, it just changed the dynamic because now we are really pulling for each other.

“I think it has changed the dynamic forever. Even if we never play in this championship again after this year, the experience of playing together and pulling for each other and saying, ‘OK, what would our four-ball score be’ has helped us learn how to love playing golf together. She could finally wrap her head around it and think, ‘Wow, Mom really isn’t the devil.’”

Kay said she and her husband, Chuck, a former Mississippi State baseball player, had a foolproof way to curb Abbey’s outbursts.

“Her clubs have been ours for a little while…,” said Kay when Mary Lou Daly, Kay’s mother, made a nearly imperceptible throat-clearing sound. Daly had been sitting and listening to the exchange with a bemused smile, confirming that Abbey might be the apple that didn’t fall too far from the tree.

 “Let’s just say I was hothead as a younger golfer,” Abbey said. “I am not as verbal as I used to be, but I am still kind of beat myself up sometimes. I missed three putts under 6 feet today. We could have shot 67 if I could have made a putt.”

Kay and Mary Lou nodded knowingly.

“I fought it throughout my college career,” Kay said, “but adulthood and having kids brings you a whole new perspective. That made me a better golfer than I ever was as a college player. Hopefully, she will be able to glean a little bit of that from me and get ahead of it quicker than I did when I was her age.”

“I remember one day at Pinehurst….,” Daly said before deciding it might be best to leave the rest unsaid.

And everyone could laugh, especially Abbey, because the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship became the place where she and her mom became partners.

David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Email him at dchmiel@usga.org

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