2004: Skins game sidetracks Big Break star

By Jay A. Coffin

Williamsburg, Va.

Danielle Amiee’s life has more plottwists than a soap opera.

For starters, she resembles a perky Barbie Doll. Oodles of blonde hair, attire usually not associated with golf, a center-fold figure. If there were an LPGA limit on how long a player’s shorts must be, Amiee would fail miserably.

Amiee (pronounced ah-MEE) was at the Michelob Ultra Open last week playing on an exemption given to her as winner of The Golf Channel’s “Big Break III: Ladies Only” reality series. The show was taped last October during a rainy, 12-day stretch here at Kingsmill Resort. The concluding episode aired April 26, showing Amiee’s victory in an 18-hole match over Pam Crikelair.

You want reality? Try this. Amiee claims she first picked up a golf club during her second year of college, beat balls 10 hours per day for three weeks and was offered a scholarship to Long Beach State. Her Futures Tour biography says she was offered a scholarship after three months and The Golf Channel’s Web site says she first picked up a club when she was 16.

“An instructor had seen me on the driving range,” Amiee said. “They offered me to come in and get some status at the college to see if I had playing time on my clock. I was a full-time student in dental hygiene school at the time.”

The native Californian went on to letter three years at Long Beach State, where she played collegiately as Danielle Skinner. Her bio says she graduated with a degree in art and design and was a first team All-Big West pick in 1997 and second team all-conference in 1998.

Rewind to her high school years, when Amiee was into softball, gymnastics and soccer, and yet another story surfaces.

“I graduated high school in three years,” Amiee said. “I dated a paraplegic at the time. I had to skip a year of high school to take care of him. I went to college at an early age.”

Many Big Break viewers and others who saw her play say Amiee looks older than her biography suggests.

Late 30s, early 40s are the numbers most often heard.

“I am 29 now,” she declares. “I have birth certificates to prove it.”

Speaking of things that may not be what they appear, Amiee was preoccupied during her LPGA debut with inquiries about a photograph that has been circulating over the Internet. The picture is of a woman posing topless, wearing skimpy red underwear and black high-heeled shoes. She has a Callaway Golf staff bag slung over her shoulder and is standing in front of a wall decorated with four logos that say “Playboy 50th Anniversary, September 19-21.” Each logo also says “Palms” which would indicate that the photos were taken at The Palms hotel in Las Vegas, a place Amiee said she often stays when she’s in town.

The face and hair are clearly Amiee’s. Whether the photo was doctored to show a nearly nude body is the question. If it was, the job was professional in its attention to detail. The subject is wearing a large platinum necklace holding a crucifix, which is similar to the necklace Aimee wore all week at Kingsmill. The flower-themed head covers in the photo are similar to the head covers Aimee used here. The black high-heeled shoes in the photo are similar to those worn by Amiee in an early-week news conference.

Aimee declined to comment on the authenticity of the photo. But she clearly was upset by it.

After the first round, an LPGA media official approached Amiee to let her know that the picture was floating around in cyberspace. Amiee immediately denied having posed nude for anyone, but agreed to take a look at the photo. She went into the locker room, saw the picture in question and stormed out in tears.

“We are going to track down whoever is passing this around,” said Patrick J. O’Brien, a Rockville, Md.-based lawyer who represents Amiee. “They are certainly not authorized photos. We’re going to take whatever legal action is appropriate.”

Meanwhile, The Golf Channel declined comment on the photo, saying only that Amiee had passed its background check and had won the Big Break competition fair and square. TGC officials would never admit it, but surely they can’t be too displeased about the “exposure” they’re getting. After all, if the photo is authentic, Amiee may have used poor judgment but she didn’t do anything illegal.

Even a fully clothed Amiee was a crowd favorite here. She signed autographs for hours and interacted with the gallery as much as any other player. She was arguably the third-biggest story of the week behind Annika Sorenstam’s bid for a record sixth consecutive victory and Cristie Kerr’s dominating performance.

Amiee had a little fun Tuesday afternoon while on the putting green. She posed an interesting question to a 60-something man who was watching her practice. “Is it true that there is a law in Virginia where you can get a ticket if your underwear shows?” she asked.

The man responded, “Yes, and I’ve been ticketed twice.”

Had there been odds posted in Las Vegas as to what scores Amiee would shoot, bettors who took the “under” likely would have collected some cash. Many golf insiders predicted she wouldn’t break 80 in either round. Although Amiee admittedly was nervous for all 36 holes, she shot a respectable 79-77 in her first LPGA experience, scoring 1 over on the back nine each day. Se Ri Pak, the 2004 Michelob Ultra champion, was only two strokes better.

“I feel like I belong,” said Amiee, who also received an exemption into the LPGA Corning Classic later this month, thanks to her TV success. “Do I have a lot of work to accomplish? Absolutely.”

Stay tuned as the “Life with Danielle” soap-opera continues. But don’t be surprised if it’s a short run.

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