Dalys Double Vision
Daly has focus.
The majors. The fame. The booze. The pills. The gambling. The comebacks. The setbacks. The failed relationships. Theyre all a part of Dalys well-publicized past.
However, the 35-year-old isnt dwelling on what was, or what could have been. Hes focused on the present, and what the future may bring.
It's nice to worry about playing golf and not all the other stuff,' Daly said Wednesday.
Daly is a work in progress ' always has been. Hes a late bloomer. And hes just now starting to get it. He now knows what he wants and how to go about achieving it.
Despite finishing 2000 ranked 188th on the PGA Tour money list, Daly started to show a little promise at the end of the season, making four straight cuts.
That bit of consistency led to an increase in confidence, and that confidence helped spark a fire.
I was pissed, said Daly when he learned he was ranked outside the top 500 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the start of the 2001 season.
I couldn't believe I was 506th in the world, even though I hadn't played good,' he said. 'I thought, 'As a two-time major champion, why am I 506th in the world?''
What Daly didnt know ' or, more precisely, chose to ignore ' was that where you play helps determine how many rankings points you earn.
'A prime example of the world rankings, I played Loch Lomond last year - the same (week the) tournament in Milwaukee was going on,' he said. 'The points counted more for Loch Lomond than they did in Milwaukee. So I was kind of searching for where would best fit my schedule and get the most points if I do play good.'
Knowing where to play was half the process; he next had to perform. And, in order to get the desired results, he had to rededicate himself to the game.
Daly lives in Dardanelle, Ark., a small town 45 miles west of the relative metropolis that is Little Rock.
We've got a WalMart and McDonald's, what more do you need?' joked Daly.
He plays out of Bay Ridge, where everybody knows everybody and 'we don't care what you wear.'
He loved the down-home atmosphere of his club, but he needed something even more private ' a place where he could practice on a whim. As a result, Daly had a practice green installed at his house. He was able to work on all aspects of his short game ' from his putting to his short-iron approach shots.
It's helped a lot, being able to practice on my own,' he said. 'Just being able to hit wedge shots for hours and hours...and the little artificial green I got is just like the greens we putt on (on tour).'
His itinerary was set and his game was finding its form, now John just had to get his mind right. He dropped the medication that made him a walking zombie for two years.
My mind just told me to quit listening to everybody and just do what I feel is right,' Daly said. 'And the medication was the biggest thing. That was the greatest thing I ever did. It was the smartest move I ever made - getting off that crap.'
Daly began his 2001 ascent up the world-ranking ladder with a tie for eighth in the Phoenix Open. He then tied for 11th in the Honda Classic.
He finally broke through in the European Tours BMW International Open for his first victory since the 1995 British Open.
For the year, Daly earned seven top-10s, including a trio of top-threes in four European starts. He began this season ranked 51st in the world.
'I just want to keep moving up,' he said
Thus far, Dalys made three starts in 2002. He tied for fourth in Phoenix and tied for 31st at the Bob Hope. He tied for 39th last week at the Heineken Classic ' a co-sanctioned European Tour event ' in Australia.
Daly is now a two-tour player. He applied for membership on the European Tour, which requires him to play in 11 sanctioned events. Its not as hard as it might sound. The four majors and the three World Golf Championship events count towared the 11, leaving him only four more events to play.
Daly plays quite well overseas, as evidenced by his record last year. He also knows that certain European events have better fields than their American counterparts, which leads to more rankings points.
Daly plans to play in the Benson & Hedges International May 9-12 (held opposite the Byron Nelson Classic); Loch Lomond July 11-14 (opposite the Greater Milwaukee Open); the BMW International Aug. 29-Sept. 1 (opposite the Air Canada Championship) and the Linde German Masters Sept. 12-15 (opposite the Pennsylvania Classic).
Though hes won recently in Europe, Daly still yearns for another stateside triumph. His last official U.S. victory was the 1994 BellSouth Classic.
Perhaps this week on the elongated South Course at Torrey Pines?
'As long as I hit a lot of greens and don't get impatient, because the balls will bounce a little bit,' he said.
Aside from winning, Daly has another goal in his immediate future: maintaining his position inside the top 50 in the world ranking.
Daly is currently ranked 46th in world, with the top 50 following the Genuity Championship ' in three weeks ' qualifying for the Masters Tournament.
Daly has quite an affinity for Augusta National. Having won the PGA Championship (1991) and the British Open ' and having forgone any notion of ever winning the U.S. Open ' Daly believes the Masters is the last leg of his grand slam.
Augusta, with the length (added) now, is definitely a good advatage, with those greens the way they are. (Winning) is always going to be a goal,' he said.
John Daly now has focus. Hes seeing more clearly. The stupor he stumbled through for so many years is seemingly behind him.
'Everything in my life is great,' he said. 'It's been a long time coming.'
Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker
John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.
The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.
That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.
He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.
Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.
In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.
Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.
“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”
Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.
Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.
Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.
“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. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “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.”
September can’t get here quick enough.
Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.
There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.
In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.
“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”
The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”
Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.
Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.
The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.
“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.
Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.
After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.
Tweet of the week:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”
The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.