Daly Over the River and Through the Woods

By Associated PressAugust 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- If Tiger Woods is a Rembrandt, John Daly is a paint-by-number Elvis on black velvet. Tacky, for sure. Yet there's something oddly endearing about it, and you can't help but gawk.
 
Especially when Daly pulls stunts like he did Friday on No. 10 at Southern Hills.
 
At 366 yards, downhill and with a big dogleg to the right, a 4- or 5-iron off the tee is the smart move for this par-4. It leaves players with a short approach, and a good chance for birdie.
 
Daly?
 
He waited for the green to clear, then pulled out driver and ripped it.
 
'We're not set up to find that shot,' a TV announcer said as the ball rocketed toward the green.
 
Thing is, Daly doesn't do anything by anybody's plans. Never has. Which is why, despite the blistering heat and suffocating humidity, a Tiger-sized gallery was following every move of the topsy-turvy 3-over 73 that turned him back into America's favorite side show after a brief stay atop the leaderboard at the PGA Championship.
 
'For some reason,' wife Sherrie said during a brief interview Friday as she walked the course, 'everyone likes John.'
 
He hits driver when he should hit irons. He opts for slot machines over practice rounds. He smokes cigarettes and chugs diet soda when water and an energy bar would be better.
 
And that fairway in front of him? Well, that's merely a suggestion.
 
'Do you think they would have booed him if he'd pulled out an iron?' Todd Hamilton asked after watching Daly tee off on No. 10.
 
Conservative is not a word that has ever existed in Daly's dictionary, and being two shots off the lead after the first round of a major wasn't going to change his mind. Even if a win -- heck, a solid showing even -- could recharge a career that has seemingly dead ended after falling to 423 in the world rankings.
 
So he went for every green -- and got to know just about every inch of Southern Hills' rough and woods. Of 14 fairways, he hit a measly one and that wasn't until 11 holes into the round. He duffed an easy sand shot and missed more putts than a weekend hack.
 
He did birdie the last hole to stay at even-par for the tournament, and in a six-way tie for ninth.
 
'The fairways are just so hard to hit,' Daly said. 'I just kept grinding, grinding, grinding.'
 
Not that fans cared. If they wanted textbook or pretty golf, they would have followed Woods or Geoff Ogilvy. Or sat home watching a tape of Jack Nicklaus. No, fans simply adore Daly because he plays like they wish they could.
 
His shot off the 13th tee went so far left, he was almost on the next hole over, No. 17. The sensible route would have been to punch back onto 13, and the marshals went ahead and moved the gallery to clear just such a path.
 
But as Daly got to the ball, his eyes darted left. That 17th fairway was wide open, calling his name. He looked at the path the marshals cleared several times, but his eyes kept going back to 17.
 
Finally, his caddie told everybody to move. The circus had just rolled into town.
 
Daly punched the ball forward, landing squarely on the 17th fairway. The players coming up the hole laughed when they saw him, and one caddie said, 'In the middle again, huh?'
 
But Daly knew what he was doing. He had an unobstructed -- not to mention shorter -- shot to the green, and his third shot put him within 8 feet of the hole. Fans whooped and hollered, and Daly was grinning as he lumbered to the green.
 
OK, so he two-putted from there. That's not the point. Daly is pure entertainment -- on and off the course.
 
He's a two-time major champion, but he hasn't won a PGA Tour event in three years and doesn't even have a card anymore. The closest he got to this year's Masters was an autograph session down the road at the local Hooters.
 
He did have a brief moment of grandeur at the British Open, but it lasted all of 15 minutes. After pitching in on the 11th hole for an eagle in the first round, he found himself as a most unlikely leader. He went on to miss the cut.
 
His personal life would make Jerry Springer cringe. He freely admits to drinking and gambling too much, to say nothing of that nasty nicotine habit. Sherrie is Wife No. 4 and while they've been married for six years, it hasn't exactly been domestic bliss.
 
Just two months ago, Daly showed up at a tour stop in Memphis with a face full of scratches that he blamed on Sherrie, saying she came after him with a steak knife. They've since reconciled. Or at least are getting along well enough for to come to Southern Hills with the kids.
 
Don't ask about it, though.
 
'That's where we end,' Sherrie Daly said.
 
But it's hard not to love the big lug. That's why the people keep showing up.
 
'I've been telling him he could win soon,' Sherrie Daly said. 'He's due. He hasn't had much luck.'
 
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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”