Making his first start in more than three months due to an injured elbow, John Daly opened the BMW Masters with a 4-under 68 to sit alone in second place among a star-studded field in China, three shots behind overnight leader Luke Guthrie.
The round marked Daly's first return to competition since withdrawing from The Greenbrier Classic in early July; the two-time major champion had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right elbow the following week. Speaking to reporters after the round, Daly indicated the injury had been lingering for quite some time.
'My elbow has been ailing me for probably six years, and the last four have been really just brutal,' noted Daly, who carded four birdies without dropping a shot en route to his opening 68. 'Finally to get the surgery done, it's nice to be able to pinch chips, which I haven't been able to do in a long time, so that's encouraging.'
Daly's was not the only surprising opening round, as Guthrie thrived on a day when many of the world's best struggled to break par. Following the round, the former Illinois standout was quick to give credit to his hot putter.
'It was one of the better rounds I've ever played,' the 23-year-old explained after a 7-under 65 that included five birdies and an eagle. 'I had 19 putts, and that was definitely the key to my round.'
Guthrie is one of several players in this week's field who made the long commute from Las Vegas to Malaysia following last week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The nearly 9,300-mile journey proved no issue for Guthrie Thursday, though, as he picked up right where he left off at TPC Summerlin, having closed with an 8-under 64 Sunday to finish in a tie for fifth.
'I had about five weeks off before I played the last two weeks over on the PGA Tour,' noted Guthrie, whose career-best result was a third-place finish at the Honda Classic in March. 'I've been playing solid, hitting it a lot better and just been getting a lot out of my round again, which is nice.'