Turmoil in Tow Daly Returns to Augusta

By Associated PressApril 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. ' A cola in his hand and a cigarette never too far from his lips, John Daly never looked more at ease as he stepped out of the Augusta National clubhouse Monday, far removed from a world of trouble.
 
Daly's wife and her parents were in a federal court in Mississippi for the start of their trail on money laundering charges. They wound up pleading guilty in an agreement with prosecutors. Sherrie Miller Daly, indicted last July just five days after giving birth to Daly's first son, was offered five years' probation with six months of house arrest.
 
'I'm just so happy to be here,' Daly said quietly. 'To me, this is like heaven.'
 
The Masters also is his haven. He wants desperately for this week to be all about his golf, which has been so good the last two months that he came out of nowhere - a place Daly knows all to well - to return to Augusta National.
 
Daly has such control of his game that no one would be surprised to see him in a green jacket on Sunday.
 
'If this is his week, there's no reason he can't win,' Adam Scott said. 'His length is awesome and his short game is pure. It's a matter of it clicking this week.'
 
But even as Daly played a practice round with good friend Fuzzy Zoeller, his mind was two states away.
 
Prosecutors have said that Daly didn't know about the trouble that led to the indictment, which alleged that his wife and in-laws conspired to buy and sell drugs using cash from previous transactions.
 
He said he would stand behind his wife of nearly three years, and strongly recommended she take the plea bargain.
 
'You don't beat a federal court, a federal judge and the FBI. There's no way,' Daly said in the parking lot. 'I told Sherrie, 'You've got to look after what's ahead of you. If there's probation, house arrest, you've got to take that. I know you're not a convict. I know you're not guilty of anything. But you're not going to win.''
 
This might not be the best way to prepare for the first major championship of the year, especially on a daunting course like Augusta National that is expected to be firm, fast and troublesome.
 
But then, distractions seem to be a constant companion.
 
Daly was the ninth alternate when he drove through the night to the 1991 PGA Championship, then stunned the golfing community by overpowering Crooked Stick to win his first major.
 
He went through alcohol rehab, a nasty divorce and a suspension from the PGA Tour for rash behavior, then showed up at St. Andrews for the '95 British Open and added a silver claret jug to his trophy collection.
 
A victory this week at Augusta National - certainly not out of the question considering his skills - would make him only the 15th player in history to capture three of the four majors.
 
Daly generates a buzz unlike any other player.
 
He walked only 100 yards from the clubhouse to the putting green, and a wall of people caved in around him. Some of the fans reached out and patted him on the back; others shouted out to him, the voices becoming muffled cheers.
 
'I'm fine,' Daly said. 'I've got my mind on golf, and it's going to be fun.'
 
A photo of Daly on the front page Monday of The Augusta Chronicle was vintage - Daly at the top of his swing, the club dangling well past his shoulders, his gut sagging over his waistline, a cigarette dangling between his lips.
 
Daly has never come into a major with his game looking this good.
 
He won at Torrey Pines two months ago, his first PGA Tour victory in nine years, against a strong field that included Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. The following week, he recovered from a disastrous front nine in the final round at Riviera to finish fourth.
 
That's when Daly started dreaming about Augusta National, and he managed to qualify in spite of himself. During a crucial stretch in Florida, he slammed his hand in a car door and had to miss the Honda Classic. He was in position to qualify for the Masters at Bay Hill until a double bogey-eagle-bogey-triple bogey finish knocked him into a tie for ninth.
 
Then, he closed with an 80 at The Players Championship and had to wait four hours to find out he got into the Masters by being 10th on the PGA Tour money list.
 
'My patience hopefully will be better. That's the main thing,' Daly said. 'I'm hanging in there, and that's what is helping me. Even when I shot 80 at The Players Championship, I finished with an eagle, missed a short putt and then a birdie. Hopefully, something good will happen this week.'
 
Craig Parry of Australia has played several rounds with Daly over the years, and he noticed a change in his game when they were paired together the first two days at Bay Hill.
 
'He had really good ball control, and he's always had a great short game,' Parry said. 'Even though he bombs it a mile, he's got everything else, as well. He's just got to remain patient. That's one of the keys on this golf course. It's the key for everybody.'
 
Everyone figured Daly would always do well at the Masters because of his length and soft touch around the greens. But he's had only one top 10 in nine appearance, a tie for third in 1993.
 
That was the year Daly was served divorce papers from his second wife, Bettye, between nines during a practice round the day before the Masters began.
 
'There's always something at the Masters,' Daly said.
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.