Daly eager for first PGA Tour event since his suspension

By Associated PressJune 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. ' The question came at John Daly a variety of ways Wednesday, and he tried deflecting them with jokes.
 
His weight loss? He cheated. And the lap-band surgery was so successful that his 17-year-old daughter is scheduled for her turn next week. His time on the European Tour? Great, loves it as much as the PGA Tour ' except for the cameras going off during his swing and smaller purses. A last chance? Thats when hes dead and buried.
 
Then the golfer whose life features more drama than reality TV finally talked about what everyone wants to know: Is he really serious about golf this time?
 
You think youre going to be out here for life. I took that for granted. I didnt take all the golf tournaments as serious as I should have, Daly said.
 
He mentioned NFL player Thomas Hollywood Henderson as an example that sticks with Daly, someone who never knew how great he could have been because of the Dallas linebackers own struggles with alcohol and drugs.
 
But the good news is I can still salvage a great career, Daly said.
 
His latest step at another career revival comes Thursday in the opening round of the St. Jude Classic, his first tournament back since a six-month suspension from the PGA Tour. Hes here on a sponsors exemption in a place he considers home and where fans eagerly watch, ready to call the hogs for the Arkansas native at any time.
 
This tournament needs Daly and all the attention he brings in a year that has featured as much suspense as the troubled golfer himself.
 
Title sponsor Stanford Financial was dropped in March with its assets frozen in a federal investigation. That left an event heading into its 52nd year named only for its charity, the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital. Tournament officials scrambled for money even as FedEx, whose headquarters overlooks part of the Southwind course, increased its support.
 
Late last week, the purse was cut $500,000 to $5.6 million, the first time thats happened on Tour this year. The winner will take home a little less but still a $1 million check in a move players learned about only an hour before the commitment deadline last Friday.
 
We wanted to give every opportunity to see how we could compete at the levels that had been previously announced, Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said. The final determination was that we felt it was best we do this.
 
So no wonder officials welcomed Daly back with an exemption. More headlines followed when Phil Mickelson, ranked No. 2 in the world, announced his return to competition three weeks after suspending his schedule because his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
 
Its an attempt at some normalcy and a tuneup for next weeks U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York.
 
So here I am, Mickelson said of playing a course redesigned and toughened to par-70 since his lone visit here in 2001.
 
The rest of the field includes Henrik Stenson in his first event since winning the Players Championship, Sergio Garcia, British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington, Camilo Villegas and Retief Goosen. Justin Leonard is back defending his title, looking for his third win here since 2005 along with another two-time winner in David Toms.
 
Leonard said he does worry about the lack of a sponsor but has faith that tournament director Phil Cannon can find a replacement.
 
Its a tough spot. Trying to find a title sponsor in this economy is difficult, Leonard said.
 
The tournament would like to have a replacement before the Tour schedule for 2010 is announced in October or November. Cannon is optimistic about finding a replacement and said it helps being affiliated with FedEx and St. Jude, this events charity since 1970.
 
Tim Herron has been involved for years with Target House, which houses families of St. Jude patients. He said PGA golfers need this event just as much as Memphis and St. Jude.
 
So I dont think anyone here really needs to panic, Herron said.
 
Herron will be playing with Daly. Herron was one of the first people who called Daly after news of his suspension, and he also talked briefly with Daly on the putting green here Tuesday.
 
At least hes thinking positive, in the right direction you know. Wish him the best on I guess positive thinking. You know its funny. People still love him, fans especially. People are still talking about John, which is good. So hes still good for the Tour, good for the community, Herron said.
 
Leonard is looking forward to seeing Daly himself.
 
It seems like from the outside looking in that hes pretty serious about his game, and thats a good thing for all of us, Leonard said.
 
Good golf would be a nice change from all the excitement Daly has generated away from this course. In 2007, Daly accused his wife, Sherrie, of attacking him with a steak knife. A gag order rules in their divorce case, and Dalys attorneys got a temporary restraining order Wednesday keeping his wife, who lives next to the course, away from the TPC at Southwind while he plays.
 
But Daly did finish second in Italy. He has lost 61 pounds down to a trim 219 as of last weekend on his way to his goal of 190 and is working on his game with coach Rick Smith. The man who used to practice only for majors said he isnt going to become as hard-working as Vijay Singh.
 
Its like Vijay is telling me, the practice could pay off six months down the road. It could pay off a week down the road. It could pay off a year down the road. But sooner or later like what Goose told me yesterday, sooner or later it is going to pay off, Daly said.
 

 
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  • Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.