ORLANDO, Fla. – John Daly is back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week after missing the Central Florida PGA Tour stop for more than a decade.
Although he never won the tournament, Daly – who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption – said Bay Hill has always been one of his favorite events.
“I can’t believe it’s been [10 years]. I missed this place. I wish I could have played here a lot more. When things were good I really, really supported Arnie. I always came here,” Daly said. “But I’ve always loved the golf course as well.”
Daly’s history at Bay Hill isn’t the best. In 14 starts he has just a single top-10 finish (2004) and he’s probably better known for making an 18 on the sixth hole during the final round in 1998.
“I don’t even think about it anymore. It was just one round, one bad day, one bad hole, really,” he said. “I was playing really good until that hole. On this course it can happen to you quickly.”
For Daly, who turned 50 last April and has been focusing on the PGA Tour Champions the last 11 months, his start this week is an opportunity to honor Palmer, who passed away in September.
“He never changed. He was very gracious to people. I wish all of us could be like him, but there’s only one Arnie,” he said. “Me and Arnie, the blue-collar guys that we were, he wasn’t a rich kid growing up, I damn sure wasn’t. You appreciated people loving you and it’s great to love them back.”