Just a Suspicion But Daly May Be Maturing
So John Daly has another lightning bolt for us.
It was almost exactly 10 years ago, at the 1991 PGA Championship, that he was introduced with all the impact of a meteor striking the earth in New York City. He won. And he won last weekend at the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany. Along the way in this pro golf odyssey, he has won two other times, though the last one was way back in 1995. That one caused a few heads to swivel, too, being that it was the British Open.
Is John back? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe he will win again before the year is over. But maybe it will again take six years, as it did this time around.
First, let it be known that this was no fluke ' Daly was up against the best of Europe. The course was rather short, but John utterly decimated it, equaling the European Tour record of 27-under-par. He was playing most of the European Ryder Cup team, and he won the tournament with a last-hole birdie to beat Irishman Padraig Harrington, an excellent player who now has the rather dubious distinction of shooting the lowest score ever to lose in Europe ' 26-under.
Finally, all the hard work I have put in is starting to pay off, said Daly. This has been my most consistent year and Ive been preparing myself like I used to.
Look at the record, though. Daly finished in a tie for 17th at his last tournament, the Reno-Tahoe Open. That is a second-tier tournament, and he missed the cut in his three previous efforts ' the British Open, the International and the PGA Championship. He has missed the cut eight times in 21 tournaments in 2001.
But ' there is reason to pay attention to John. He tied for ninth at Phoenix and tied for fifth at Memphis. He finished third at Loch Lomond in Scotland in July. He is 81st on the money list, and only once in the past six years has he finished as high as 108th.
Daly is still far too aggressive ' he ranks 190th in driving accuracy, 87th in greens in regulation. But he is a respectable 51st in putting, even if his 152nd position out of the bunkers is an embarrassment.
His personal life has been another embarrassment. He has been in and out of rehab centers, trashed hotel rooms, destroyed a room in his house, played hockey with his ball on the green at a U.S. Open, been put on probation by the Tour, dropped by Reebok, Wilson and Callaway from their endorsement staffs, and many, many more. Still just 31 years of age, he brought with him to Germany his fourth wife. He married Sherrie Miller, a nurse, just seven weeks after their introduction. He currently pays $40,000 a month in alimony payments. Luckily for him, he won $680,000 in a Las Vegas casino the day before the ceremony July 29.
But Daly was brilliant on the course in Munich. He did everything he is known for when he won his two majors, said Harrington.
Its not that he hits the ball so long ' there are lots of people who do that. But its how straight he hits it. He drove the ball superbly and he has a great touch with his putting. He played very confident golf.
Daly says he is a changed man. Of course, hes said that before. And before. And before. But now that hes in his 30s, maybe he really has.
I dont give up on myself or get down on myself like I used to, he said after the victory. Well, doggone it, maybe he doesnt. I played 72 holes this week with only two missed shots. To be able to say that with my aggressive game is an awesome feeling.
Does he really mean it? Well, believe it or not, he hasnt had a drink it a year. Hes not going to AA now, but he says the urge to have a cold one just doesnt hit me anymore.
Then, to prove it, he passed around the jereboam of champagne that he had just won to members of the media.
I had some when I was 14 at my sisters wedding, and I cant stand the (stuff), he said. I never drank it after I woke up with the worst headache of my life.
Is John Daly finally growing up? Maybe. Maybe Wild Thing is about to become Mature Thing.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."