Daly opens Champions season with 7-under 65


John Daly kicked off the 2017 PGA Tour Champions season with a bang.

Daly credited a new driver for a boost in confidence as he found 11 of 14 fairways and averaged more than 318 yards off the tee. The two-time major champion made eight birdies and one bogey for a 7-under 65 at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. He's one stroke off the lead held by Bernhard Langer, Marco Dawson and defending champion Duffy Waldorf.

"Just for me to have this much confidence in a driver, it really sets the tone for confidence in the other stuff," Daly told reporters about his new Vertical Grooves driver. "You know, for me out here, if I'm hitting it long and straight, I feel like it's an advantage. I hit nothing but wedges into all the par 4s today and that's something big for me, especially when you're hitting them out of the fairway."

Daly's opening 65 marked his lowest score in his young PGA Tour Champions career. His previous best was a 66 at the American Family Insurance Championship, the Toshiba Classic and the PowerShares QQQ Championship.

Daly turned 50 on April 28 and began his Champions career the following week at the Insperity Invitational. He tied for 17th in his debut, but it was mostly a lackluster season for a player many expect to give a jolt to the 50-and-older tour.

Daly said he ran out of steam by the end of the year after bouncing between the PGA, Champions and European tours. He still plans on making stops on all three tours, but Daly will give himself a few more breaks between starts.

"It will be a little different," he said. "I don't think I'll play as many this year ... in a row, but I'll probably play just the same amount of tournaments."