When Dottie Mochrie and Danielle Ammaccapane, the top two LPGA money-winners, end up in the same threesome, they tend to look like a pair of wide receivers split to opposite sides of the field. After teeing off, Dottie stakes out one side of the fairway, Danielle stakes out the other side, and they play the entire round saying hardly a word to each other. This arrangement keeps them out of each other's way, but it usually puts the third member of their group smack in the middle of their bitter and longstanding rivalry.
"It's pretty funny," says tour veteran Elaine Crosby, who has played with the duo. "Dottie talked to me for a while, then Danielle talked to me, but they never talked to each other. And if one of them hit a good shot, it had to be really good for the other to even acknowledge it."
Crosby can laugh about it now, but she knows that the last place anyone really wanted to be was in the middle when Mochrie, 27, and Ammaccapane, 26, took aim at each other this year. That's because their grudge—now six years old—took on a new vigor as the two pros slugged it out for LPGA bragging rights. Mochrie has won four tour events in 1992; Ammaccapane has won three. Starting in May they had a stranglehold on the top of the money-winner's list. Mochrie currently leads everyone, with $693,335 this year, $185,210 more than you know who.
When Hall of Famers Carol Mann and Kathy Whitworth wrestled for all the trophies back in 1968 and '69, their battles ended with a kind word and a smile. That'll never happen between Mochrie and Ammaccapane (pronounced ah-mock-ah-PAH-nee). Says Dan Wilson, Ammaccapane's caddie, "They both hate to lose." Especially to each other. Says John Killeen, another tour caddie, who is friendly with both players, "Each of them always knows where the other one is."
Where they usually are is running neck and neck. Mochrie won her first tournament in February 1989; Ammaccapane's first triumph came two years later. Mochrie joined the LPGA's millionaire's club in February of this year, after four years as a pro; Ammaccapane joined her two months later, also after four years on the tour. "She's like a fly at a picnic," Mochrie says of Ammaccapane, chuckling slightly. "She just won't go away."
LPGA officials look at all this and see the stuff of which fan interest is made. But while Mochrie and Ammaccapane don't have to fake their mutual disdain, they do seem genuinely uninterested in playing up their rivalry. Says Ammaccapane, "I don't want it to get blown out of proportion." Says Mochrie, "I don't want to sound like we're two old biddies who can't bury the hatchet."
Too late. The rivalry between Mochrie and Ammaccapane began in earnest at the 1985 NCAA tournament, when they were sophomores. An unheralded Ammaccapane, playing for Arizona State, came from nowhere in the final round to win by a stroke over Deb Richard, Jody Rosenthal and Mochrie, who was the top player at Furman and a pretournament favorite. "The three of us got sucked into believing it was between us, and then Danielle snuck in," Mochrie recalls.
The hostility surfaced a year later, when Mochrie and Ammaccapane were both named to represent the U.S. on the 1986 Curtis Cup team. The amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland trounced the Americans 13-5 to win the Cup for the first time in 30 years, and Mochrie and Ammaccapane bickered their way to an 0-2 record as partners in the foursomes matches.
USGA secretary Judy Bell, who captained the team, had paired Mochrie and Ammaccapane. "Their games fit so well," she says now, shaking her head at the thought. But the two players who seemed like a heavenly pair behaved like partners from hell. With the pair one down, Mochrie hit a tee shot on the 3rd hole that skipped into a deep fairway bunker and settled on the lip. As Ammaccapane stood in the trap to hit the team's next shot, she muttered that she "shouldn't even be here." With Mochrie, the gallery and the late P.J. Boatwright, the USGA's rules guru, watching in disbelief, Ammaccapane dug her feet deep into the sand—an illegal bit of stance-building that resulted in the Brits being automatically awarded the hole. Mochrie was already walking disgustedly to the next tee when Boatwright announced the penalty. The pair eventually lost the match 2 and 1.
Animosity over the episode lingers to this day. "She hit it over there," Ammaccapane says. "I didn't know you couldn't [build a stance]. You can't believe how hard a shot that was."