Common sense says that adrenaline really gets a golfer's heart racing down the stretch of a tournament. Becky McDaid has tangible proof. The young assistant pro at Friar's Head in Riverhead can refer to the monitor in her pacemaker.
That she was holding the trophy at the end of the Massachusetts Women's Open last week was tangible proof that her heart and her game have held up just fine. The former Becky Lucidi - and former U.S.Women's Amateur champion and LPGA Tour player - has found the right balance at 29, working with her husband Adam, the head pro at Friar's Head, feeling healthy and playing enough to still be a winner.
Yesterday, she won again, with a two-stroke triumph at the Women's Met Open at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills - not far from Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, where she won the Women's Amateur. McDaid shot 5 under par for the 36-hole tournament, ahead of Michelle Dobek of Old Oaks, and right in step with her best golf.
Not that she is planning an LPGA Tour sequel. She is happy living in Mattituck, where the rural flavor reminds her of the horse farm on which she grew up outside San Diego. She is happy to be working at Friar's Head, where the many lessons she gives actually help her own game, and where the practice facility is, she said, "The best I have ever seen."
Most important, she is happy to be anywhere after years of passing out, on the course and off, only to have doctors tell her they didn't know what caused it.
"It was kind of a mysterious time in my life. I was so young, I had my whole life ahead of me, but the smartest minds in medicine couldn't figure it out. But I had my faith and Adam and my family," she said, adding that during the struggle she was engaged to McDaid, the former Westchester Country Club assistant pro whom she met through her Futures Tour colleague Meaghan Francella of Port Chester.
Finally, just after she earned her LPGA Tour card in the fall of 2007, she learned she had tachycardia syncope. It is a condition that causes the heart rate to dramatically spike and then fall. She played the 2008 season with that on her mind and she now admits, "My performance wasn't anything to write home about."
Late that year, she finally agreed to allow the 21/2-hour surgery to install a pacemaker, hardly what you would expect for a vibrant, athletic woman in her 20s.
"I love technology," she said, with a laugh. "The only downside is that the battery lasts only eight or nine years." And because her pacemaker kicks in so much - it goes on whenever her heartbeat dips below 60 beats per minute - her battery will need replacement sooner. Still, it is a minor price, considering doctors have cleared her to exercise and live normally.
"If nothing else," she said, "it gave me a new perspective on what my priorities should be. I used to put my health second to a lot of things."
There always had been so much to do - playing on USC's national championship team, appearing on Golf Channel's Big Break V reality show, trying to establish a niche on tour. She likes life better now, living with Adam and their dog on the North Fork and working at a respected club. She appreciates that Friar's Head owner Ken Bakst is an accomplished amateur who has played in the Masters and encourages his pros to compete.
McDaid never has forgotten how to do that. The feelings bubble up from 2002, when she entered the Women's Amateur unknown and left as a champion. "It was probably the best golf week I've ever had," she said. "I just played out of my mind. If you were to ask me before that week if I would ever win something so huge I'd have said maybe not. But once you have it, nobody can ever take it from you. Everything lined up for me. I guess it was just my time."
It seems that her time has come again, and she sees it as the time of her life.