Beth Daniel, who has curbed her temper and tempered her golf game, Tuesday was named The Associated Press' 1990 Female Athlete of the Year.
Daniel, 34, the LPGA's leading money last year with $863,578 and winner of the Vare Trophy for the second consecutive year with a low stroke average of 70.54, is the ninth golfer to win the honor since it was initiated in 1931.She received 28 first-place votes and a total of 198 points in balloting by a national panel of AP-member sports writers and broadcasters. Voters were asked to cast ballots for the top three athletes, and points were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.
Tennis player Jennifer Capriati, the teenage sensation who made her professional debut last year, was second in the balloting with 21 first-place votes and 184 points. She was followed by tennis players Steffi Graf, the 1989 Female Athlete of the Year who received 17 first-place votes and 142 points, and Monica Seles, with seven firsts and 110 points. Golfer Betsy King was fifth with 10 firsts and 97 points.
Daniel, who nearly quit the tour in 1989 because she was frustrated at not winning, won seven tournaments in 1990, including her first major, the LPGA Championship.
"Last year (1989) was a phenomenal year (four wins and $504,851 after a slow start), but this year (1990) surpassed even my own dreams," Daniel said recently after being named LPGA Player of the Year.
Daniel lost faith in herself in 1989 after going four years and four months without a title. Her confidence was shattered and she got the "yips" - meaning she often choked on the greens.
"I felt like I was going to have to quit," the fiery Daniel said. "I just didn't believe in myself anymore. It was the lowest point I've ever been at."
At that point, Daniel got help from short-game coach Dave Pelz of Austin, Texas; the late Davis Love II, a golf teacher and the father of PGA touring pro Davis Love III, and her older brother Tony, a sometime caddie.