Daly Prepared For Less Aggressive Masters

By Associated PressApril 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The buzz around Augusta National is about the Big Three, the Big Four and even the Big Five.
 
Nobody talks much about the big guy.
 
With good reason, perhaps, because John Daly hasnt done much at the Masters since his stunning 1991 win at the PGA Championship first got him in the tournament. He tied for third in 1993, but is a total of 66 over par for his last eight appearances since.
 
Huffing and puffing his way up the hill to the 18th green Monday, though, Daly was the choice of the fans'if not a tournament favorite. He got the biggest roar of the day a short time earlier when he knocked a 9-iron into the cup on the par-3 16th hole, and Daly was feeling pretty good about himself.
 
John Daly
John Daly's best finish in 10 Masters starts is a T3 in 1993.
It was a great practice day today, he said. I will be prepared, which is nice.
 
Monday was a day of preparation for almost the entire 92-player field with one big exception. Defending champion Phil Mickelson was two hours away in Duluth, where he tuned up for the first major of the year by winning a playoff at the rain-delayed BellSouth Classic.
 
The rest of the Big Four'Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh'were at Augusta for the first official practice day, getting a taste of what they can expect when the tournament starts Thursday.
 
Before some 40,000 practice-round fans and under perfect weather conditions, they found Augusta National playing long and fast, with greens so slick that it was sometimes hard to keep the ball on the putting surface.
 
Today was pretty much as fast as Ive ever seen greens in my life, said Swedens Joakim Haeggman, playing in his first Masters.
 
You were hitting putts up to the hole, and they were coming back to you, Jesper Parnevik said. Ive never seen greens this fast this early in the week.
 
Daly came here knowing the greens would be fast. He spent last week at home practicing on a green cut down to speeds he claimed were even faster than the slick surfaces hell confront this week.
 
The quick greens made him shorten his stroke, something hell need here. But Daly also is coming in with a new attitude for a course that will be playing longer than ever.
 
Ive always played Augusta too aggressive, he said. Back when you had sand wedge or lob wedge to greens you had to be aggressive. Now its 7-irons or 8-irons and you have to back off a bit.
 
Daly, of course, has made a career out of being aggressive. Hes the original grip it and rip it player, and that has led to some huge scores that have taken him out of tournaments.
 
Just two weeks ago, Daly took four swings at a ball in the rocks on the 18th hole at the Bay Hill Invitational and made an 11. He also has shot two 81s and an 80 over the years in the Masters.
 
He knows he has the length to play Augusta National. Better yet, he believes that he can compete if his irons and putter cooperate.
 
If that happens, the keepers of Augusta National probably will cringe at the site of the potbellied player coming down the back nine wearing a shirt adorned with more logos than a NASCAR driver. If not, hes always got the merchandise trailer he parks at the nearby Hooters during Masters week to sell souvenirs.
 
We sell good stuff, Daly said. Were not ripping the consumer off.
 
The focus the first day of practice was on the course, which last underwent any significant renovations in 2002. Though Augusta National looked the same, new grass put on the 15th green to make room for a new pin position left that green difficult to hold. The other greens were playing even faster than usual.
 
That might be because rain is forecast for Thursday, and the guardians of the green jacket think the course will soften up. If it doesnt rain, this Masters might turn into a test of survival.
 
I dont even want to guess how fast the greens are, Augusta native Charles Howell III said. Its scary.
 
This years Masters will be hard-pressed to live up to last years drama, when Mickelson sank an 18-footer to win his first major. It also was Arnold Palmers last Masters after 50 years, though Palmer will be back for the champions dinner Tuesday.
 
For players and fans, though, just being back at Augusta National for another year is something magical.
 
Once you get to Augusta, everything thats happened so far this year goes away, Howell said. I love the place and I get to play another Masters. It could be a lot worse than that.
 
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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

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    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”