Even in decline Daly a big draw

By Associated PressAugust 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Kids reached out to touch him. Grown men shouted his name. Women smiled and begged for an autograph.
 
Its been 17 years since John Daly, his moon face beaming below a blond mullet, strode up the 18th fairway at Crooked Stick, a shocking winner of the PGA Championship. And its 13 years since the burly golfer pulled off another stunner, winning the British Open at, of all places, St. Andrews.
 
But as it was evident Monday morning near the practice range at Oakland Hills, site of this weeks 90th PGA Championship, the years melt away when a gallery spies Daly.
 
Despite the tawdry headlines about his failed relationships, erratic behavior, indifferent practice regimens and personal excesses, Daly remains a much-loved favorite of the fans in a sport where proper dress, proper manners and proper decorum are usually the rule.
 
Yeah, it does, he said Monday when asked if returning to a major championship reminded him of his breakthrough win in 1991 at Crooked Stick. Its always nice.
 
While players who have won multiple tournaments walked past the pack of fans without anyone noticing, Daly is still a big draw, even if hes gotten to be known for what he does off the course more than for what he does on it.
 
Daly quarreled with swing coach Butch Harmon, who in a neat turnaround fired Daly after saying the Arkansas native was more committed to longnecks and late nights than he was to practicing.
 
Daly got a lot of exposure, in every sense of the word, when hundreds of thousands checked out a video on the Internet that showed him playing a golf course while wearing only a cap and blue jeans ' no shirt, no socks, no shoes. In another video, from a Flint, Mich., pro-am while with rocker Kid Rock, he hit a ball off the top of a full beer can, splashing suds all over the tee box.
 
During a 2 1/2 -hour rain delay at the PODS Championship in March, Daly escaped the weather by staying at a Hooters corporate tent. When he returned to the course, he dumped his caddie and replaced him with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden. Daly, who later said that his regular caddie was hurt, shot a 77 and followed that with an 80 to miss the cut.
 
With his weekend free, Daly returned to the course and hung around at the Hooters Owls Nest lounge at the course, drinking beer and signing autographs. He said his sponsors requested he be there.
 
That was the last straw for Harmon, who dumped Daly not long after.
 
My whole goal for him was hes got to show me golf is the most important thing in his life, Harmon said at the time. And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk.
 
A week after the PODS, Daly missed his pro-am tee time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, triggering a Tour rule that says players who dont play in pro-ams are ineligible to play in the regular tournament. Daly said a woman in the tournament office gave him the wrong tee time.
 
Daly has not had his full PGA TOUR card for two years, relying mostly on sponsor exemptions to get into tournaments.
 
Now 42, he is searching hard for anything that resembles a golf game. He comes to Oakland Hills for the PGA Championship as the No. 664-ranked golfer in the world, right behind two guys named Steve Scahill and Mike Grob.
 
Granted, he was the ninth and final alternate at the PGA Championship and arrived just in time to play in the opening round of that magical 1991 tournament. But even Daly concedes that his chances of duplicating that victory this week dont look great.
 
How you hitting em? he is asked.
 
Horribly, he said with a laugh.
 
How are you feeling these days?
 
Im getting there, he said while scribbling his signature on golf flags, shirts, hats, programs, pictures and magazine covers. I had rib surgery two months ago. I just had a cyst in my right hand and they finally got that out. Now Ive got tendinitis in my left elbow.
 
A youngster probably not yet born when Daly outplayed Costantino Rocca at the Old Course listened to his litany of woes and shouted, Youre my favorite player, Mr. Daly. I love you.
 
Daly just flashed a smile while he moved along the metal railing, signing everything that was thrust in front of him.
 
He has not been to Oakland Hills since the U.S. Open in 1996, which featured one of the more peculiar groupings. Daly played the first two rounds with 20-year-old amateur Tiger Woods ' they represented the two longest hitters in golf ' and defending champion Corey Pavin, one of the shortest hitters. Daly tied for 27th that year.
 
He has not won since the 2004 Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, and some lobbied for him to be a captains pick for the Ryder Cup held at Oakland Hills. He didnt make it, and remains the only two-time major champion to have never played in a Ryder Cup.
 
Not that it would have mattered ' Europe won, 18 1/2 -9 1/2. Eight players from that team return to Oakland Hills with fond memories, boosting the odds that a European will end the 78-year drought at the PGA Championship.
 
Since Daly last played a competitive round at Oakland Hills at the 96 Open won by Steve Jones, some new bunkers have been added, some trees taken out and a few minor tweaks made elsewhere to what has always been a classic design.
 
As Daly headed out for a practice round, he said the course had fit his game back in 1996. He wasnt sure if it would again.
 
Maybe its just that the course hasnt changed nearly as much as Daly and his game have.
 
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.