Daly Begins a New Chapter
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?
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Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener
HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.
Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.
''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''
Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.
''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''
Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.
''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.
Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open
The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:
Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)
What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.
Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.
Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.
Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.
Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.
Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one
Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.
Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia
SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.
Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.
''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.
But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.
In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.
''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.
The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.
''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''
NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.