Old Course Old Daly

By Rex HoggardJuly 15, 2010, 5:34 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – On a day when you could hardly make out the Auld Gray Toon from the Old Course’s fifth tee box, a name atop the Open Championship leaderboard looked as familiar as a past-parallel backswing.

If John Daly was awakening ghosts of Opens past on Thursday in the Kingdom of Fife, they would be welcome spirits from a far-to-often sordid past.

On the flight to the United Kingdom Daly was asked by his longtime girlfriend Anna Cladakis what it was about the Old Course that inspired him. His answer was simply, “It’s magical.” On Thursday on a gray, windless day Daly had some magic of his own going, birdieing five of his first nine holes for an opening 66 that could, if fate and the fickle Scottish weather allow, make a career many thought long finished reappear.

On a links course that has a warm blanket feel to Daly, he hit driver with abandon and precision and lag-putted his way into the conversation. Stop us if you’ve heard this before. The only thing missing was the mullet.

In the 15 years since Daly made his mark with his Open Championship stunner at St. Andrews he’s lost some six stone (that’s about 80 pounds on this side of the pond) but added more baggage than one man can, or should, bear. That Daly’s damage was largely self-inflicted didn’t seem to matter as he roamed familiar fairways with a well-known swagger.

Since that magical 1995 championship Daly has been in and out of alcohol rehab, divorce court and the Tour hot seat for conduct so unbecoming it’s cost him nearly $100,000, according to a Jacksonville Times-Union report last year.

Less than five months ago he looked into a Golf Channel camera and said, essentially, he was done with professional golf. It seems pro golf wasn’t done with him.

John Daly
Daly rediscovered the same magic that led him to victory 15 years ago at the Old Course. (Getty Images)

“I’m 44 and I’ve learned a lot,” Daly said. “I’ve never run from my mistakes. I’ve always been honest with (the press). You know, it’s how you come back. For me, I’m on a comeback.”

To say the 2010 version of “Long John” is different from the swashbuckling kid who overpowered the ancient pitch in 1995 is a gross understatement. With the help of lap-band surgery Daly has his weight under control and thanks to Cladakis he has been able to keep the assortment of other vices that have caused so much pain at bay.

Daly has traded Diet Cokes for alcohol and other than an occasion chocolate fix his veracious appetite is a distant memory. He can, however, still overpower a golf course. On Thursday he hit 13 of 15 fairways, 17 of 18 greens in regulation and averaged a staggering 324 yards off the tee.

“My whole method about playing here is to worry about one bunker instead of five or six,” Daly said. “When I’m hitting the driver that well it takes a lot of things out of play.”

Daly also needed just 27 putts, including missed birdie opportunities at the 16th from 10 feet and 18th from 11 feet, prompting questions about how much better his round could have been, and the possibility that 1995 was an omen, not an aberration, of things to come.

Savor the numbers, if not the possibilities, of a Daly Old Course double. He’s currently ranked 455th in the world, was tabbed a distant 250-to-1 long shot by the betting houses and hasn’t finished in the top 10 in any event since last May (Italian Open).

On Tuesday Tiger Woods was asked if a victory this week in St. Andrews could help him along his road to redemption. For JD a second claret jug collected at the home of golf could finally stop his journey down a road to nowhere.

But that’s putting the trophy before the trials.

A win of any variety is Daly’s ultimate goal, be it PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour. A win at St. Andrews would help make sense of a lifetime of gluttony. The new and improved Daly – clad in what he called paiseltine pants (“The good thing about them is if you get dressed in the dark, any shirt is going to match,” he smiled.) – was asked if his “Wild Thing” nickname from a former life still applied.

“I don’t know, Mild Thing,” he said.

But that doesn’t work either. At least not on Thursday when he bombed drive after drive over the most cynical collection of bunkers known to man or sheep. Daly fell in love with the storied links in the 1994 Dunhill Cup and once told a friend before his ’95 victory that he could “own the place.”

“There’s just something peaceful about this place,” said Daly, a man in great need of peace for much of his life. “Whether the wind is blowing 50 mph or it’s a calm day like today, it’s just one of those places that I just love.”

As Daly made his way up the 18th fairway on Thursday a member of his inner circle couldn’t help himself, “It’s like a religious experience.” Daly played his next shot, with a putter, through the Valley of Sin. It was an apropos metaphor for a life that has been filled with far more swales than peaks, and the subtext to the week’s most important question: What’s next?

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."