Former Cal player sparks media frenzy over spider bite

Former Cal player Daniela Holmqvist (file photo)

Former Cal golfer Daniela Holmqvist became a media sensation Wednesday when word circulated that after being bitten by what she was told was a black widow spider during a pre-qualifier for the season-opening LPGA event in Australia, Holmqvist simply kept playing. As the story goes, the Swede whipped a golf tee out of her pocket, cut open the bite to drain the poison and then played the remaining 14 holes.

She shot 74, but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the tournament. Still, Holmqvist, 24, left a hero.

So I went to see a doctor. On a double dose of antibiotics and some other stuff 4 times per day. Also the wound needed some attention, Holmqvist tweeted Tuesday.

The next tweet? I asked the doctor if I could do a workout today... Her response “the death-stare”.

Holmqvist’s story went viral on Wednesday, and her Twitter following nearly doubled.

Holmqvist apparently was bitten by a redback spider, which is similar in appearance and related to the black widow spider. The black widow is indigenous to North America, not Australia. According to researchers at the University of Melbourne, about 250 patients are treated for redback bites each year. Since discovery of an antidote in 1955, no deaths have been reported.

"I'm doing well, at least I think so," Holmqvist responded via email to Golfweek. "The doctor gave me a double dose of antibiotics and some other stuff. It just stings and itches a little, but that could be because of my not-so-stellar medical skills.

"I didn't really understand how dangerous it actually was."

The spider bite likely earned Holmqvist the most media attention – certainly in the shortest amount of time – of her young career, though she wasn’t totally unknown before being bitten. During her three years at Cal, after transferring from Tulane, Holmqvist maintained a 74.44 scoring average and had 10 top-10 finishes.

She also was the player who delivered the final par for the Golden Bears at last spring’s Pac-12 championship. The Cal men’s and women’s teams swept the conference championships for the first time in school history.

Since turning professional after representing Sweden in the 2012 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship – Holmqvist finished 17th at Ladies European Tour Q-School later in the year to earn rookie status – she has finished inside the top 30 in both LET events she’s entered.

As for Holmqvist’s resolve, Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel wasn’t surprised when she heard the spider story.

Said McDaniel: “That sounds like Daniela, absolutely, 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.”

– Beth Ann Baldry contributed, and information from Cal's athletic department and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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