Before heading off for a practice round at the Hyatt Regency resort course Tuesday, Daly said hes tried just about everything to improve on poor putting that plagued most of his play at Hong Kong and at Huntingdale in last weekends Australian Masters, where he failed to make the cut.
Two-time major winner Daly is returning to the scene of one of the most publicized blowouts in his stormy career. At the Australian PGA in 2002, he threw his putter and ball into the pond at the 18th green after his second round and was later disqualified for not signing his scorecard.
A scuba diver later retrieved the ball and putter, and it was mounted in the pro shop as a souvenir of the day ' at least until this week. The display has been hidden away from an area near the pro shop which is doubling as a player lounge, just to save Daly any embarrassment.
It would mean a lot to me this week to do well, Daly said. My record in Australia hasnt been great.
If he does well, it will be due to an improvement with the putter. When he shot a final-round 62 at Hong Kong two weeks ago, he had 27 or 28 putts. Last week at Huntingdale in Melbourne, he shot a 1-over 73 Friday and had 37 putts before not qualifying for the weekend.
That means my ball-striking is good, but I just hit some pretty poor putts last week, Daly said. I made a lot of putts I needed to make in Hong Kong, but not a lot outside of 8 feet that a lot of the guys do.
Daly says hell play in next weeks Australian Open in Sydney, making it four tournaments in four weeks.
Ive said before that I need to play three or four weeks straight to get my rhythm right, and since Im already down here, it makes sense, Daly said.
Hes trying to make the best of whats turned out to be a mediocre year, both on and off the course.
He spent a night in jail on Oct. 27 after being found extremely intoxicated and uncooperative, police said, outside a restaurant in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Daly has not had a PGA Tour card since 2006, when his two-year exemption expired from his last victory at the Buick Invitational in 2004. He made only five cuts in 17 starts on the PGA Tour this year and earned $56,000.
In 2009, he plans to play mostly on the European Tour.
Before the Australian Masters, Australias Stuart Appleby described Dalys life as a trainwreck.
Craig Parry, who played with Daly last week at Huntingdale ' and in the Americans group at Coolum in 2002 before he was disqualified ' is a Daly booster.
He is always under pressure for his past, and I feel for the guy, Parry said. Hes got a ton of ability, and it was disappointing to see some players have a go at him for getting an invite.
Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, said the sport needs players like Daly.
Hes the most colorful character thats played golf in the last 25 years, Ogilvy said. Hopefully he plays 72 holes (this week) and ends with 14 clubs.
A less-known fact of Dalys 2002 blowout was that in addition to throwing his putter and ball into the pond, he left behind his golf bag and clubs to the Australian branch of the Make-A-Wish foundation for a charity auction.
He is a lovable type of guy and he has a heart of gold, Parry said. Hes just done some silly things. Frankly, I believe he has more ability than the whole field put together.
The 42-year-old Daly hopes that ability carries him to a return to a top-50 ranking, and then perhaps another major to add to his 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open.
I look forward to the British Open every year, its my favorite major, Daly said. Ever since I first saw St. Andrews in 1992 or 93 I fell in love with Open golf.
Daly was asked, if given a choice, hed rather have two majors and the headlines, or one major and a quiet time sitting in an armchair.
Two majors, Daly replied, laughing.