Old Course Old Daly

By Rex HoggardJuly 15, 2010, 5:34 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – On a day when you could hardly make out the Auld Gray Toon from the Old Course’s fifth tee box, a name atop the Open Championship leaderboard looked as familiar as a past-parallel backswing.

If John Daly was awakening ghosts of Opens past on Thursday in the Kingdom of Fife, they would be welcome spirits from a far-to-often sordid past.

On the flight to the United Kingdom Daly was asked by his longtime girlfriend Anna Cladakis what it was about the Old Course that inspired him. His answer was simply, “It’s magical.” On Thursday on a gray, windless day Daly had some magic of his own going, birdieing five of his first nine holes for an opening 66 that could, if fate and the fickle Scottish weather allow, make a career many thought long finished reappear.

On a links course that has a warm blanket feel to Daly, he hit driver with abandon and precision and lag-putted his way into the conversation. Stop us if you’ve heard this before. The only thing missing was the mullet.

In the 15 years since Daly made his mark with his Open Championship stunner at St. Andrews he’s lost some six stone (that’s about 80 pounds on this side of the pond) but added more baggage than one man can, or should, bear. That Daly’s damage was largely self-inflicted didn’t seem to matter as he roamed familiar fairways with a well-known swagger.

Since that magical 1995 championship Daly has been in and out of alcohol rehab, divorce court and the Tour hot seat for conduct so unbecoming it’s cost him nearly $100,000, according to a Jacksonville Times-Union report last year.

Less than five months ago he looked into a Golf Channel camera and said, essentially, he was done with professional golf. It seems pro golf wasn’t done with him.

John Daly
Daly rediscovered the same magic that led him to victory 15 years ago at the Old Course. (Getty Images)

“I’m 44 and I’ve learned a lot,” Daly said. “I’ve never run from my mistakes. I’ve always been honest with (the press). You know, it’s how you come back. For me, I’m on a comeback.”

To say the 2010 version of “Long John” is different from the swashbuckling kid who overpowered the ancient pitch in 1995 is a gross understatement. With the help of lap-band surgery Daly has his weight under control and thanks to Cladakis he has been able to keep the assortment of other vices that have caused so much pain at bay.

Daly has traded Diet Cokes for alcohol and other than an occasion chocolate fix his veracious appetite is a distant memory. He can, however, still overpower a golf course. On Thursday he hit 13 of 15 fairways, 17 of 18 greens in regulation and averaged a staggering 324 yards off the tee.

“My whole method about playing here is to worry about one bunker instead of five or six,” Daly said. “When I’m hitting the driver that well it takes a lot of things out of play.”

Daly also needed just 27 putts, including missed birdie opportunities at the 16th from 10 feet and 18th from 11 feet, prompting questions about how much better his round could have been, and the possibility that 1995 was an omen, not an aberration, of things to come.

Savor the numbers, if not the possibilities, of a Daly Old Course double. He’s currently ranked 455th in the world, was tabbed a distant 250-to-1 long shot by the betting houses and hasn’t finished in the top 10 in any event since last May (Italian Open).

On Tuesday Tiger Woods was asked if a victory this week in St. Andrews could help him along his road to redemption. For JD a second claret jug collected at the home of golf could finally stop his journey down a road to nowhere.

But that’s putting the trophy before the trials.

A win of any variety is Daly’s ultimate goal, be it PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour. A win at St. Andrews would help make sense of a lifetime of gluttony. The new and improved Daly – clad in what he called paiseltine pants (“The good thing about them is if you get dressed in the dark, any shirt is going to match,” he smiled.) – was asked if his “Wild Thing” nickname from a former life still applied.

“I don’t know, Mild Thing,” he said.

But that doesn’t work either. At least not on Thursday when he bombed drive after drive over the most cynical collection of bunkers known to man or sheep. Daly fell in love with the storied links in the 1994 Dunhill Cup and once told a friend before his ’95 victory that he could “own the place.”

“There’s just something peaceful about this place,” said Daly, a man in great need of peace for much of his life. “Whether the wind is blowing 50 mph or it’s a calm day like today, it’s just one of those places that I just love.”

As Daly made his way up the 18th fairway on Thursday a member of his inner circle couldn’t help himself, “It’s like a religious experience.” Daly played his next shot, with a putter, through the Valley of Sin. It was an apropos metaphor for a life that has been filled with far more swales than peaks, and the subtext to the week’s most important question: What’s next?

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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