Cheers Were All for Big John

By George WhiteApril 26, 2005, 4:00 pm
It certainly isn't the refined thing to do, this whoopy-do hollering when someone misses a putt in golf.
But Vijay Singh was acutely aware of whom the fan favorite was Sunday. And it wasnt him. The cheers that erupted when he missed a makeable putt on the 72nd hole were impolite, to say the least. They were cheers for the good fortune of one John Daly, who as a result of Singh's missed putt would now be in a playoff.
John Daly and Vijay Singh
Even Vijay Singh had a rooting insterest in his friend John Daly.
But Singh didnt mind the outburst in the least. He realized that it would have happened to anyone who was unfortunate enough to get between John Daly and victory. In fact, if he was anywhere else except grinding it out on the golf course, he admitted that he would probably have done exactly what the gallery did in Houston Sunday.
It was definitely a no-no - definitely, except when John Daly is involved somewhere in the mix. Vijays misfire meant that Daly would get into a playoff ' a playoff that Daly would eventually lose when his first tee shot bounded into the water.
If I was in the crowd, said Singh, I'd probably say the same. Everyone loves John. If I was in there, I would have wanted to see a playoff anyway. ... It didn't bother me at all.
Theres something about John Daly, and Im not exactly sure what it is. He comes across as a big ol loveable oaf at times, a mixed-up, confused adult at others. But my wife will forgive John almost any transgression, make excuses for almost any lapse of playing ability, forgive almost any personal misstep that Daly makes. And she is merely one of a million or so Daly-acs who will fiercely stand by their favorite Paul Bunyon.
Why? I dont understand it. My wife is rather stern when it comes to personal deportment. But where John is concerned? Dont you dare say anything untoward against John!
Daly is like some sort of big cuddly teddy bear, and in a perverse sort of way, it enhances his likeability factor even more when he frequently hits the skids. John, it must be said, can do no wrong when it comes to his legion of fans around the globe.
Daly is only a day or two shy of his 39th birthday. He has been all over the map in the playing category during his career won the PGA Championship early on, won a British Open. But there were six years that he couldnt even finish in the top 100 on the money list. He just emerged from a rocky patch of two months when he shot in the 80s three times. In the last six weeks prior to last week, in fact, he had shot in the 60s only once.
John Daly
John Daly reacts to his birdie putt on the 72nd hole at the Shell Houston Open.
It's just been a year I haven't scored real well. I've hit it great, said John, and if that is true, then his putting must have been terrible. And Daly has a reputation of being a very good putter.
He may have solved his problem, though. A change of length and lie of his putter may have been the answer. He had been using a 35-inch putter in the past, but switched to a 34 -inch model. Teacher Steve Holden convinced him to switch back to the 35.
He said, That's what we need to do. It can't hurt because you're putting like crap,' said Daly with brutal, if not to too cultured, honesty.
My caddie, Peter, he's honest with me, too. He says, You're putting so bad you need to try something. So we did. I looked at some footage of the '91 PGA (which he won), and I know I had a putter that was at least 70 (lie) and it was 35 inches long. The ball is rolling better than I've rolled it in a long, long time.

The most gratifying part of his day, though, was making birdie on the final two holes of regulation to get into the playoff. Actually, the entire back nine Sunday was an exciting adventure for Daly. He says he took something away from Houston, even going into his 39th year.
I take a lot, said Daly. I take it that under pressure that maybe I've still got it.
Birdieing 15, 17 and 18 - well, actually, 12, 15, 17 and 18 - gave myself a chance to win the golf tournament. You know, when you're not there a lot, it's kind of nice to do that. It would be nice to be there a lot like Vijay and Ernie and Tiger and Phil and those guys are, but when you're not there a lot, to be able to pull those shots off makes me feel more confident about it.
Daly, it must be said, doesnt know why he is so popular. My own very unscientific poll tells me he is the second most popular golfer in America, right after Tiger Woods. He is more widely appreciated than Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Singh, or anyone except Tiger. And he really isnt very far behind Tiger.
The world can be thankful that John has only won nine times (four internationally). Just think what the situation would be if he had won half as many as Tiger ' say, 20 times. I dont think the known world would be able to handle it. And I know the sport of golf wouldnt.
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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 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.

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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.


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.