Daly returns from surgery to contend at BMW Masters

By Doug FergusonOctober 24, 2013, 7:31 am

SHANGHAI – John Daly spent three months putting ice on his elbow and chocolate milk in his belly, and he returned Thursday feeling better than he has in years.

Playing for the first time since surgery to repair the tendon in his right elbow, Daly played bogey-free in strong wind and opened with a 4-under 68 in the BMW Masters to trail Luke Guthrie by three shots.

Daly withdrew after three holes of the second round at The Greenbrier Classic on July 5 and had surgery a week later. He figured he would be out for at least four months, but returned a few weeks earlier than his doctor expected.

''I've always been a quick healer. I don't know why,'' Daly said. ''He figured four months. I did everything he told me to do. I usually don't listen to anybody.''

Daly received a sponsor's exemption into the BMW Masters, in part because of a relationship formed when he won the BMW International Open in Germany in 2001. The wind blew about 30 mph across many of the holes at Lake Malaren. It was a good test for Daly, because he needed to hit several three-quarter shots to keep the ball flight down in the wind. That's the shot that had been giving him trouble.

He kept bogeys off this card, picked up a pair of birdies on the par 5s and his late one on the par-3 17th. Daly caught a break on the 18th when someone stepped on his ball in the rough, allowing for a drop. He came up just short of the green, and his 50-foot chip stopped one turn away from falling.

Daly would have settled for anything around par on this blustery day in Shanghai. He said he could play well Friday and shoot 80 in this kind of wind.

The 68 exceeded his expectations. More than a number, he was pleased with how he controlled his distance.

''What's been a blessing is to be able to pinch golf shots,'' he said. ''Full shots are easier than three-quarter shots, because you have to hit it harder. I haven't had a right hand in golf for probably six years. It feels good just having two arms to swing again. I feel like I can control the golf ball. That three-quarter shot is my bread-and-butter. You've got to have it on a day like this, and I executed it.''

Daly rolled up the sleeve of his wind vest to reveal a scar on the right elbow. He said doctors inserted two screws and wrapped tendons both ways, and he never flinched or felt any pain on any of his shots.

He returned looking a bit heavier than in the summer, and part of that was by design. He felt he needed to add some weight to regain strength, and it was an easy fix.

''I drank a ton of Vitamin D milk,'' Daly said. ''My mom always told me the old remedy was to drink a lot of milk. But I put a lot of chocolate syrup in mine.''

Otherwise, he still looked like the Daly of old.

He chose a checkered pattern of red, yellow and black for his trousers, and considering Munich-based BMW as the title sponsor, someone remarked that he wore German colors. Daly was not aware of this.

''No disrespect to the Germans,'' he said, ''but we call it ketchup and mustard.''

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.