Daly Begins a New Chapter

By Brian HewittFebruary 16, 2004, 5:00 pm
John Daly was always a tragic-comic cross between Paul Bunyan, and Pecks Bay Boy with a little Mickey Mantle thrown in for good measure. He was a larger than life American hero. He was the poster boy for every golfer who ever thought the sport was too much about country clubs and not enough about rubber tee mats.
And now, quicker than you can say sudden death, he is back.
A magical, floating, rolling, long bunker shot on the first hole of a playoff at the Buick Invitational was enough to stop Luke Donald and Chris Riley in their tracks. Daly has now won for the first time since 1995 when he defeated Costantino Rocca at the Old Course in Scotland for the Open Championship. He hadnt won here in the United States since 1994.
We wondered, we waited and we agonized. And now our patience - OK, some of us werent so patient - has paid off: John Daly, the longest running soap opera in golf, has finally found a third act to a career that has been a simultaneous roller coaster testament to wretched excess and blessed talent.
Life always had a way of bringing out the best and the worst in Daly. At times it was hard to tell which was which. Dalys wild ride also managed to bring out the best and the worst in many of us as well.
At the core of all of this was a nerve Daly struck with a sizable portion of the American public from the moment he showed up for the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in 1991 to win the first major in which he ever played. Hard to believe that was almost 13 years ago now.
His life since then has been littered with broken marriages, gambling binges and trials with alcohol. All of it has been very public. We dont mind imperfections in our heroes in America. And we whooped and hollered as John Daly championed that cause. He told us he was a Wal-Mart kind of guy. He was from Arkansas. He was long off the tee and short on social graces.
When someone asked him if he planned to play on the Champions Tour one day, he replied by saying his friend, Fuzzy Zoeller, had laid odds of 50-1 that he wouldnt even live to be 50 years old. Never was John Daly above poking fun at himself for all the troubles he brought down on his own head.
Dennis Paulson told us Saturday Daly had done a lot of things he probably wished he hadnt done. Paulson said he knew for sure Daly had done a few things that the image police at the PGA Tour wished he hadnt done. But, someone suggested, Daly had done a lot of things many of us had wished we had done.
Everywhere Daly went, people followed. Paulson said Daly was a hometown favorite all the time. Stewart Cink, a polar opposite of Daly in many ways, said Daly attracted a NASCAR crowd. But, said Cink - who played in Dalys group Saturday and Sunday at Torrey Pines - he enjoyed being part of it. Cink called it spine-tingling.
The imperfections in Daly were something all of us could identify with in at least one way shape or form. But there was more than that. And there was more than all those long drives that rented space in the sky and dropped on the grass like so many butterflies with sore feet.
There wasnt a mean bone in John Dalys body. And he had a way of conveying this instantly. You knew it the first time you saw him. Later we found out he had a heart that was even bigger than his game. So we wanted to forgive him when we heard the reports about the trashed hotel rooms and missed tee times and aborted rehabs.
And, by the way, it was easier to talk about Daly in the past tense than the present, future or pluperfect.
But now we have no choice. The present just caught up to the past. Only a power greater than all of us knows what the next chapter will bring for John Patrick Daly.
Hes 37 years old now. Where is the finish line? Whats the plan?
Fasten your seat belt and turn the page.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.