As might be expected when a golf tournament has a different leader each day and isn't decided until a 40-foot putt to force a playoff rims out on the final hole, the LPGA Championship's debut at the Bethesda Country Club was deemed an overwhelming success by players, tour officials and tournament organizers. And they were just as pleased with the course as with what happened on it.
"I'm ecstatic. . . . Everything was fabulous," Commissioner William Blue said Sunday when asked about the tournament's initial visit to Bethesda after being moved from Kings Island, Ohio.
Those sentiments were echoed repeatedly throughout the weekend. The only change likely to be made in the tournament next year is the date.
Several prominent players expressed reservations during the week about the LPGA schedule that had three of the four major events within a five-week span, concluding with the Championship.
"I know it's not how they wanted to have it," said Pat Bradley, who finished in a ninth-place tie here. "The commissioner was kind of forced into the schedule by circumstances -- club availability, sponsors and so forth -- but what resulted still was a bad situation.
"With the kind of pressure that surrounds a major, you just can't have them bunched up like that. You have to spread them out."
Bradley and other players expressed an affinity for playing one major per month during the summer, as the men's tour does.
Blue responded by saying next year's tournament may be moved to late May or early June -- sacrificing having the Championship as the last of the year's majors for the potential bonus of holding it during a cooler, wetter month earlier in the summer.
Before rallying to win the tournament with a final round of 5-under-par 66, Beth Daniel had led a contingent of players who complained about hard, bumpy greens at several holes on the back nine. Those conditions were ameliorated as the weather changed during the weekend, Daniel said, and Blue added: "The improvement potential here is the condition of the golf course."
Attendance this week lagged behind the 100,000 figure for which tournament planners had hoped. After an estimated crowd of 25,000 for Sunday's final round, approximations of the four-day turnout ranged from 70,000 to 80,000. Attendance likely was hindered by the lack of on-site parking, plus threatening skies and early morning showers on Saturday and Sunday, when the tournament was televised by NBC.
The LPGA is contracted to Bethesda for next year and likely will keep the Championship here for at least the next four years.
Daniel -- whose first victory in a major also was her eighth win in a 12-month span -- and Rosie Jones were the only players to finish below par as the course's engulfing rough and small, slick greens swallowed most of the field. Three-time champion Nancy Lopez was near tears after a first-day 78, and perennial front-runners Betsy King and Patty Sheehan could only shake their heads at their struggles.
"This is definitely a championship golf course," Sheehan said. "This is what the course at a major should be."