Feb. 13, 2013
Media Clip Photo Gallery
BERKELEY - "Cal golf does a lot more than train their players for golf!"
Those words, spoken by California head women's golf coach Nancy McDaniel, could mean a myriad of things on any given day when talking about the athletic, academic and personal benefits of being a women's golf student-athlete for the reigning Pac-12 champions while studying at the country's No. 1 public institution.
On Wednesday, one day before Valentine's Day, those words instead were directed about former golfer Daniela Holmqvist, the 2012 Cal graduate and rookie on the Ladies European Tour who became a media sensation after news broke of her unusual circumstances Monday at a pre-qualifier for the LPGA Tour's ISPS Handa Australian Open in Yarralumla, Australia.
In case you missed the story, Holmqvist was on the fourth hole, competing at the Royal Canberra Golf Club, when she felt a sharp pain above her sock line. Looking down, the 2012 NCGA and Golfweek All-American saw what appeared to be a black widow spider that bit her. Unfazed, Holmqvist took a spare tee out of her pocket, made an incision in the steadily swelling area and extracted as much of the venom out as she could. Afterwards, Holmqvist picked up her clubs and finished the remaining 14 rounds, finishing with a 74 while the medical staff followed her around to make sure she remained fit to compete.
"That sounds like Daniela, absolutely," McDaniel said after reading one of dozens of stories written about the account Wednesday. "This doesn't surprise me at all that she would a) try to take care of it on the golf course and b) finish the round. She was one that her teammates could always count on to finish strong no matter what got in her way. She's a very, extremely determined player."
As McDaniel's squad prepares to open its spring season this weekend without Holmqvist on the roster for the first time in three years, it was an odd piece of news for the coach of the Bears' coach read about on the front pages of Yahoo!, ESPN, Deadspin and the Huffington Post in addition to countless other media outlets.
McDaniel is busy preparing her team to compete at the Peg Bernard Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., but the news from 14,000 miles away in Australia can't be avoided as it brings more attention to the program and the sport in general.
"It's surprising that this has taken on such a life of its own, yet it's such a great thing for our sport in that it opens up the dialogue about what golfers can deal with on the course," McDaniel said. "We play 36-hole rounds sometimes, fight through the elements, never get rained out, have up to six-hour days and have to prepare for anything that can happen. As golfers, we're trained for almost anything. In a way, (the ordeal) doesn't surprise me because you see everything out on the golf course, and this does a lot to speak for the adversity you can see as a golfer. It takes a lot of mental toughness and keeping yourself managed, so to have that happen to Daniela is an entirely different deal that you would never expect to see."
If the spider took Holmqvist by surprise, the media attention was even more startling. For the golfer, it was just another day at the office, yet the story has grown so much that even she hasn't been able to escape it. Her twitter page (@DHolmqvist), which began the day with 700 followers before expanding to over 1,025 followers after the news broke, is filled with humor at the amount of attention she has received. She even playfully asked if she should now be "the spider woman," a better nickname than the "kangaroo lady," a joke aimed at some rumors that she was attacked by a kangaroo.
"I think Daniela is probably a bit surprised at the attention to something that, although it was a black widow, to her was as small as a spider bite," McDaniel said. "She is the kind of person that wants to get her attention with the golf clubs rather than a spider bite. You haven't seen the end of Daniela as a player. She's off to a great start on the European Tour, and we're really behind her supporting her all the way."
Indeed, there will be plenty more to see from the rising Swedish star who just joined the tour in October 2012. In the meantime, McDaniel can always use the experience as another training technique to teach the current Bears about making the best of any situation on the course.