Aug9 USPGA Daly


Audio Clip: John Daly on his first round 67…

Asked on the eve of the tournament how he was going to cope with the heat, Darren Clarke replied: “You’ve just got to drink, drink, drink, as much water as you can; there’s no time for any beer or alcohol.” World number 423, John Daly, didn’t seem to concur with the Irishman, because while taking the early lead in Tulsa after shooting a 3-under-par 67, he said he hadn’t drunk a drop of water. “Diet Coke” was the official answer. He will probably be on something a bit stronger tonight.

“I’m used to the heat,” he said after his four-birdie round, “because I live in Dardanelle, Arkansas, which is only about two and a half hours from here. We are used to pockets, where you don’t get a lot of air. I just lit up a cigarette and had some more Diet Coke. It actually works. Caffeine and nicotine equals protein in my book.” Daly decided not to have a practise round this week “because it was too hot”. Instead, he played on the slot machines in the amusement arcade down the road. Let’s hope Ben Hogan and J.H. Taylor are not looking down from the great golf course in the sky.

It’s worth noting though that the last time JD didn’t have any practise rounds before a major, at the 1991 USPGA Championship, he went and won it.
Daly came into the press centre with his white shirt hanging down by his knees, dripping wet.

The first questioner said: “So John , congratulations on your round and some thoughts on why things went so well today.

JD looked at the gentleman, gave a big shrug of his shoulders and said smiling: “I have no idea.” That was it.

Asked to go through the bogeys and birdies on his card [giving yardages and club selections] he shook his head and said: “To tell you the truth, I just can’t remember them. I only had three heat strokes out there. Honestly, I can’t remember.”

The golf world is a poorer and less exciting place when John Daly is not in the field. He led the Open Championship last month at Carnoustie, when he pitched in at the 11th hole in the first round, but on that occasion his lead only lasted a matter of minutes. He then dropped eight shots in his last seven holes and missed the cut. And watching him, you are always waiting for the wheels to fall off.

“This course couldn’t be set up worse for him,” said an incredulous Ernie Els, looking at an early leader board, “and yet here he is winning the tournament. He is incredible.”

Daly’s fortunes on the course have suffered in recent times, and he is currently without a PGA Tour card, relying instead on sponsor’s invitations. This season he has missed eight cuts and withdrawn from another four events. But the 1991 PGA Champion and the 1995 Open Champion always attracts huge galleries because of his aggressive style of play, and today he decided to attack the course, using his driver at every opportunity. He fired it over dog-legs and bunkers, averaged 326 yards with his driver, one drive going an amazing 364 yards.

“I was expecting to make a 7 or 8 at any minute,” he said, “but it never came.” Indeed, his only bogey was at the 16th, which is a 507-yard par-4 “which in my books is a par-5, because it is over 500 yards”.

“Presumably,” noted one questioner, “that sort of talk of expecting to make a big number, would make any sports psychologist go insane?”

“To be a sports psychologist,” he said in reply, “you’ve got to be insane anyway to listen to all the s**t we talk about. I did a lot of things today I haven’t been doing for some time. I took a little longer over putts, probably six or seven seconds, instead of three or four. And, I even bent over a bit to look at the lines of putts. I haven’t been playing that badly over the past year and a half, just not scoring well. I’ve been hurt by big numbers. If golf courses were 14 holes, I would have won 17 tournaments in the past year and a half.”

Quite whether David Feherty’s prediction that there would be “a thin winner” comes true, or that instead big JD will be atop the leaderboard, remains to be seen. What is certain is that the moment he left the Media Centre, he was headed back to the slot machines.



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