Eleven years removed from his last victory, Daly moved into early contention at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with a bogey-free 65 at the host course. At 7 under, he trails J.B. Holmes and Justin Hicks by one shot.
“To come here and play Pebble like this, to shoot 7 under and get off to a decent start, it’s been a long time since I’ve played that well,” Daly said.
Success and Pebble Beach haven’t exactly gone hand-in-hand for Daly in years past. He missed the cut each of the last two years, shooting a combined 17 over across that span, and his only made cut in 12 starts at this event came back in 1991. But he was able to channel his game from yesteryear on Thursday, and at 48 years old he averaged more than 322 yards per drive during his opening round.
“You can get aggressive. This course, it allows you to hit driver a lot,” he said. “For me today, I had about four or five ‘gimme’ birdies. You get that in a round and that always helps, too.”
Daly has missed the cut in two of his three starts this season, with his best result a T-29 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He last won at the 2004 Buick Invitational, now the Farmers Insurance Open, and his last top-10 finish came at the 2012 Barracuda Championship, where he tied for fifth.
Daly will now head to Monterey Peninsula for his second round, followed by a third-round tee time at Spyglass Hill. He gave much of the credit for his performance to his pro-am partner, ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards.
“He is so positive and fun to be around,” Daly said. “I want to go see some of those motivation speeches he does for those football teams or kids or whatever, because I mean it just fires you up.”
Daly wasn’t the only blast from the past on the early leaderboard in California. Dudley Hart, who at age 46 is playing on a major medical exemption, matched Daly’s score of 65 at Pebble Beach. His last win came at the 2000 Honda Classic.