Golf: Daniel quick to insert insubordinate claws

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BETH DANIEL, who graduated with a degree in education, has blonde hair, brown eyes and a big mouth. At least, that is the view of her opponents after Daniel put the cat among the pigeons with an outspoken denunciation of the strength of women's professional golf in Europe.

Daniel is a member of the United States team in the second Solheim Cup match here against Europe. The inaugural competition - it is played between professionals and sponsored by Karsten Solheim, the manufacturer of the Ping range of clubs - was held two years ago at Lake Nona in Florida where the Americans won 11 1/2 to 4 1/2 . The re-match is being held at the Dalmahoy Golf and Country Club.

'The whole idea of the Solheim Cup,' says the blurb, 'is to engender goodwill among golfing nations, gather the best together for rousing competition and foster friendship.' If the Solheim Cup is the Ryder Cup with lipstick, this week, thanks to Daniel's remarks in a golf magazine, the occasion has an extra clause. Or, perhaps, claws. 'You could put any of us on the European side and make it better,' Daniel said. 'But the only Europeans who could help us are Laura Davies and Liselotte Neumann.'

Mickey Walker, the non-playing captain of Europe, seized on the gauntlet and passed it around her team. 'It makes us feel that we want to make them eat their words,' Walker said. 'It has made us all the more determined to beat them. There is no justification for those remarks. I can't tell you what my players said.'

We can tell you Davies's reaction: 'Bloody ridiculous . . . absolute nonsense . . . a load of old rubbish. They have a few players I wouldn't want on our team.' Kathy Whitworth, the American captain who took possession of the Solheim Cup two years ago, was diplomatic. 'There were some close matches in 1990 and it was very competitive,' Whitworth said. 'We have a high regard for this tournament and it has gained prominence on our tour. It wouldn't have if it wasn't competitive. Playing away from home makes it a little bit different.'

Whitworth, alas, will not be here to witness the competition which starts on Friday and finishes on Sunday. After arriving at Dalmahoy she was informed that her mother had died on Monday night and she returns to America today. Alice Miller, the incoming president of the US LPGA, takes over the captaincy.