Daly gets 3 early starts but no Hope

By Doug FergusonJanuary 6, 2010, 6:18 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – John Daly already can count on playing in at least three PGA Tour events during the first two months of the season, quite a change from where he was a year ago.

Daly was in the early stages of a six-month suspension for conduct unbecoming a professional when the 2009 season started, and his future in golf was limited to tournaments in Australia and on the European Tour.

He will start at the Sony Open next week in Honolulu. He said he also received an exemption to the San Diego Open, and that he was in the 156-man field at Pebble Beach next month.

Even so, he was stunned that he did not receive an exemption to the Bob Hope Classic. The tournament gave its unrestricted spots to Rickie Fowler, Rocco Mediate, Jamie Lovemark and David Duval, who shot 59 in the final round of his 1999 victory. Another unrestricted exemption went to Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer.

“That was kind of a shocker they didn’t give me one,” Daly said on Monday. “I felt like I brought a lot of celebrity friends to that tournament. That was kind of a slap in the face. I supported that tournament for all those years. My feelings were hurt there.”

Daly didn’t mind that Palmer’s grandson received one because “those are Palmer’s courses” and the King was so connected to the Hope. He is hopeful of getting spots to Riviera and Phoenix, although he realizes tournaments have plenty of choices.

“It’s tough,” he said. “This is a year I really need favors from a lot of tournaments. I need some loving this year. That’s why I used to do all this stuff for the tournaments. It was always in my mind that I might need some help someday.”

Daly said his Florida swing already includes a start at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook, where two years ago the two-time major champion was criticized for using former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden as a caddie for a few holes after a rain delay.

En route to Hawaii, Daly stopped by Ping to get fitted for some new irons, although a deal was not imminent and Daly said he was not in a hurry. He last played Ping when he won the 1991 PGA Championship.

Looking back, Daly said the suspension had its benefits. The time off led him to get lap-band surgery, and he has lost 115 pounds (52 kilograms) over the last nine months.


SPECIAL GUEST: During his whirlwind travels in December, when Y.E. Yang found time for a round of golf that he won’t soon forget. Making good on a pledge a week after winning the PGA Championship, he played with former President George W. Bush.

Yang met Bush in August during a trip to the TaylorMade facility in Carlsbad, California, and since they live relatively close to each other in Dallas, they arranged to play.

The round took place at Brook Hollow, and it turns out Bush is very much like his father when it comes to pace of play.

“Very fast,” Yang said. “We had a fivesome and played in three hours.”

Yang said Bush played off about a 12 handicap and said he shot 85.

“He was a nice guy, very fun to play with,” Yang said.


AWARDS: Tom Watson and Ken Green will share the Ben Hogan Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for continuing to stay active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.

Green lost the lower part of his right leg when his recreational vehicle ran off a road in Mississippi and killed his brother and his girlfriend. Green has been fitted with a prosthesis and hopes to resume his career on the Champions Tour. Watson had hip replacement surgery, and eight months later nearly became golf’s oldest major champion at 59 until losing in a playoff at the British Open.

It was the first time the Ben Hogan Award ended in a tie.

Padraig Harrington was honored with the ASAPSports/Jim Murray Award for his cooperation with the media, while golf course architect Pete Dye won the William D. Richardson Award for consistent and outstanding contributions to golf.

They will be honored at the GWAA Awards Dinner on April 7 in Augusta, Georgia.


A WINNER IN TIGER’S CAMP: At least one member of Tiger Woods’ team has reason to celebrate these days.

Steve Williams, who races cars on a dirt track when he’s not caddying for golf’s No. 1 player, made it through a series of qualifying races to a 24-car field and won the New Zealand Saloon Car Championship last weekend.

That made him the first driver to win the Saloon Car Championship and the Super Saloon Car Championship, which he captured in 2006. Next up is a chance to win his third straight race at the Super Saloon this weekend as he tries to become the first driver to hold both titles in the same season.

As for when he might return to his other job? Williams offered no insight in a telephone interview on Tuesday.


LONG WALK: Players are allowed to use carts during the practice rounds and the pro-am at the SBS Championship because of the massive elevation changes on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

So why was Retief Goosen’s caddie wiping sweat from his brow after nine holes?

“I walked,” he said while catching his breath. “The ninth hole is the worst.”

Goosen said he has spent plenty of time in the gym, but wanted to get used to walking a golf course. It was bad enough that he had his caddie go for a long and hilly walk. He also had 17 clubs in the bag.

Ryan Moore also chose to walk during the practice rounds.

DIVOTS: Geoff Ogilvy is sporting a new look at Kapalua – Titleist on his cap instead of Cobra, Foot-Joys on his feet instead of Puma, and he shaved, which he didn’t do at all last year. Ogilvy said he was not able to renew his deal with Puma. … Seven players are making their debut at the SBS Championship. Even more alarming is that only seven players are in the winners-only field for the second straight year. … The Sony Open next week in Honolulu got a big boost this week when Ernie Els and Vijay Singh committed to play.

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Aiken, Waring tied at Nordea; Olesen three back

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 5:45 pm

MOLNDAL, Sweden – Paul Waring of England and Thomas Aiken of South Africa share the lead, three shots clear of their rivals, after the third round of the Nordea Masters on the European Tour on Saturday.

Waring was tied for first place with Scott Jamieson after the second round and shot a 1-under 69.

While Jamieson (75) slipped down the leaderboard, Aiken caught up Waring after shooting 67 - despite three straight bogeys from No. 15. He bounced back by making birdie at the last.

Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and Marc Warren (66) are tied for third.

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Koepka: 'Surreal' Woods waited to say congrats at PGA

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:47 pm

Brooks Koepka was moved by the respect shown when Tiger Woods waited for a half hour at scoring last Sunday to congratulate Koepka for his PGA Championship victory at Bellerive.

While Koepka stands as an example of the new athletes Woods has attracted to the game, he laughs hearing people compare his body to an NFL player’s.

Those were among the observations Koepka shared Friday on "The Dan Patrick Show."

“That was surreal,” Koepka said of Woods waiting to congratulate him. “To hang around on 18, I wasn’t expecting it. It was probably the coolest gesture he could have done.”

Koepka credits Woods for drawing him to the game.

“He’s the reason I am playing,” Koepka said.

Koepka said playing with Woods in contention was a noisy experience that went beyond the roars Woods created making birdies in front of him.

“Even when he makes contact, you know what shot he’s hitting,” Koepka said. “That’s how loud people are.

“When they are putting [his score] up on the leaderboard, you hear it three holes away.”

About those NFL player comparisons, Koepka said his parents wouldn’t let him play football when he was growing up.

“I wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Koepka said he marveled meeting former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“To be compared to them, it makes me laugh,” Koepka said. “I’m about the size of a cornerback, maybe a free safety.”

Koepka said he’s just over 6 feet tall and weighs 208 pounds.

“I saw Brian Urlacher give an interview,” Koepka said. “It was kind of funny. He said he was impressed at how big I wasn’t ... If I stand next to Justin Thomas, I’m going to look big. Golf doesn’t really have many big guys.”

Koepka told Patrick he is impressed at the athletes just now coming into golf.

“I see the young guys coming out of college,” Koepka said. “They are bombing it past me. They hit it so far, they are leaving me in the dust. It’s hard to think of, because I’ve been one of the longest hitters on tour.”

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McIlroy skipping first FedExCup playoff event

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:19 pm

Rory McIlroy committed to playing the FedExCup Playoffs opener at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour announced after The Open Championship last month.

But McIlroy left the PGA Championship last week saying he might need to skip the opener to regroup, and that’s just what he is doing.

McIlroy wasn’t on The Northern Trust field list published Friday on the PGA Tour’s website.

“I need to assess where I'm at,” McIlroy said leaving Bellerive last week. “I think the best thing for me to do right now is just sort of take a couple days off, reflect on what I need to do going forward.

“The best thing might be to take that first FedExCup week off and work on my game and come back, hopefully, in a better place for Boston.”

McIlroy also skipped the FedExCup opener in 2015, choosing to make his start in the playoffs at Boston that year. It appears he will do the same this year.

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn't been my best event of the four,” McIlroy said. “I've played well in Boston. I've played pretty well in the other two.”

McIlroy left Bellerive saying he would do some work on his game and see if he felt ready for the playoffs opener as part of a run of big events leading into the Ryder Cup.

“There's a lot of room for improvement,” McIlroy said. “My swing really hasn't been where I want it to be. It was pretty good at the start of the year. I had a couple of months to work on it, but it's just sort of regressed as the season went on and you start to play tournaments, you start to fall back into some of the habits that you don't want to fall back into."

McIlroy has won once over the last two seasons – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March – but he has given himself other chances this year with some frustrating finishes. Overall, he has five finishes of third or better in 2018. He got himself in the final pairing with Patrick Reed at the Masters but stumbled to a T-5 finish. He tied for second at The Open last month.

“Inconsistency with the swing has been the big area,” McIlroy said. “If you look at my statistics, especially with approach play on my irons, and even my driving, even though it's been OK, there's been a two-way miss, with sort of everything throughout the bag, and that obviously isn't a good thing. So that's something I need to work on.”

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Watch: Wagner saves season with walk-off eagle dunk

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 2:45 am

Johnson Wagner kept his FedExCup Playoff hopes alive on Friday at the Wyndham Championship ... and he did it in dramatic fashion.

Needing a birdie on his final hole of the day to make the cut on the number, Johnson used a 9-iron from 153 yards out to dunk his approach for eagle to get inside the cut line.

Johnson's eagle at the last gave him a 66 for the day and earned him two more rounds to try and get inside the FedExCup top 125 for next week's start of the postseason, The Northern Trust.