Friday, August 10, 2012

Public Readings - PGA Championship 2012: John Daly two shots off lead after posting first-round 68

Public Readings - PGA Championship 2012: John Daly two shots off lead after posting first-round 68He isn’t the ninth alternate this week but he may be even more of a long shot. Not that it matters. Any time John Daly puts himself in contention these days, golf gets a bit more interesting and Thursday at the PGA Championship, his game was speaking more vocally than his Loudmouth pants.

Daly, who 21 years ago burst on the scene by gripping and ripping his way to the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick, took advantage of prime scoring conditionson Thursday to throw a 4-under par 68 on the board, tied for his fourth-best round at any PGA Championship and leaving him two shots behind Carl Pettersson in a tie for fourth.

In the recent past, Daly who has a lifetime exemption into this event because of his win in ’91 would inevitably follow such a round with something in the 80s. He had a similar start in easy conditions at the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews, where a 66 led to a 76. This year, however, there haven’t been any blowup rounds. He shot three rounds in the 60s to tie for fifth at last week’s Reno-Tahoe Open and although that came against a weak field opposite the WGC Bridgestone, it was another sign that things might be turning around.

“The way I’m hitting it, I just don’t want to get too up or too down about it. It’s just the first round,” he said after finishing Thursday’s round with four birdies and an eagle. “But I like where I’m at, and I like the way I’m playing and I like the way I’m feeling. No, I love to play great, but as long as I walk out of here knowing I played and did the best I can, that’s all that matters.”

It’s pretty much all Daly has had. He lost his PGA Tour card and had has to rely on sponsor exemptions and European Tour appearances. The goal, he says, is to get back to playing the PGA Tour full-time and, he joked, to be “like everybody else in the top 50 getting that free money in the World Golf Championships.

“I don’t think I’m that far,” he said. “I don’t think any of us are that are fighting to get our cards. We’re never, ever that far. It’s just golf. It could be chipping. It could be putting. It could be one bad tee ball. You never know. I just believe if I keep telling myself that, I’ll get where I want to be instead of being negative about it. That’s really all you can do.”

Daly used the 18th hole as an example of golf’s fine line. It was a key par save, coming in a round where he followed up his two bogeys with birdies.

“I could have easily three-putted 18,” he explained. “It wasn’t the slowest putt. It was straight downhill, and then I could have missed it, as well. But the putt went in, and it keeps the momentum going.”

The galleries loved it, of course. They still pull for him. So do the other players.

“Always have,” said Tiger Woods, who recalled playing with Daly for the first time as a 13-year-old at a benefit in Arkansas. “He hit a 4 or 5 iron he hit the shot and he knocked the damn ball out of round,” Woods recalled. “I’ve never seen anybody hit the ball that hard. He hit it solid right in the middle of the green.”

Daly was back doing some of that Thursday.

“I’m just kind of loosey goosey out there, and it just feels good,” he said. “For me, to just free -wheel it is the only way I can get my confidence back instead of worrying about bad breaks and what somebody else is doing. I only need to worry about what I’m doing.”