Im very excited about going back, said the three-time Masters runner-up. (The invitation) was a surprise to me; I never expected it, my performance never really dictated that. But its a great honor.
Norman, who shot 1-under 71 in the first round of the Bay Hill Invitational, has played the renovated course recently and said he likes the chances of his Thursday playing partner, John Daly.
'I said, John, this is right up your alley,' Norman remarked. 'I said, You know, as great as youre driving the golf ball now ' and hes driving it exceptionally long - I said, This might be the first time you gotta feel very, very good going to Augusta. If he keeps his head right, hell do very well.
While Norman was impressed with Dalys game, Daly was in awe of one of Normans possessions ' a 23,000 square-foot boat.
My house is only 12,000 (square feet). Thats amazing, said Daly, who added he enjoyed Normans company Thursday.
It was really cool. We talked a lot, he said. Through all the ups and downs, he and Fuzzy (Zoeller) were always ones to call. Its really cool of a veteran to do that for a younger guy, so Ive always been pretty good friends with him.
But Im dying to see the boat. Its like four stories, its incredible.
Its Not Such a Small World, After All
Should Daly go on to win this week, dont expect him to return Mickey Mouses phone call.
My two-year-old was dying to see Mickey. Couldnt find him anywhere said Daly, who went with his family to Walt Disney World Tuesday. Nine of us go, we pay $381; where in the hell is Mickey?
We went to his house; we went to Toon Town; we went everywhere. We could not find Mickey Mouse. And my two-year-old is just crying because we couldnt get a picture.
Paul Azinger has 12 top-10s on the PGA Tour since winning the 2000 Sony Open in Hawaii, but he cant seem to find the winners circle again. With a little help from his flatstick, however, it could be just a matter of time.
I feel like right now Im on the verge of being hot, he said after shooting 3-under 69. But you have to have a hot putter. If I got a hot putter, good things could happen.'
Azinger said hes not putting poorly, he is just having trouble in the 15-25 foot range.
You have to make six to eight of those a tournament to have a chance. Thats really all it takes.
John Huston is using the cross-handed putting style for the third straight week. He started in the first round of the Genuity Championship, where he tied for 76th after shooting 80 in the third round. He then tied for 66th in last weeks Honda Classic.
This week, things seem to be running a bit more smoothly.
I just had no rhythm in my stroke at all before, said Huston, who took 25 putts in shooting 5-under 67. If I had my preference, I would rather putt conventional.
I think everybody out here at one time or another has tried everything, with the exception of maybe Brad Faxon or some of the guys that still havent gotten to that point yet. And there may come a day when he tries it.
Huston has missed three cuts in his last four Bay Hill starts, but has an exceptional record in Florida. Five of his six PGA Tour victories have come in the Sunshine State.
In a Funk
Fred Funk's PGA Tour-leading streak of consecutive rounds at par or better ended Thursday. Funk had posted 38 straight rounds at par or better prior to his opening 2-over 74. The current longest streaks on tour now belongs to Cameron Beckman and Peter Lonard, each with 18.