Daly tames the Ocean Course
John Daly, cast out of the PGA Tour and banished to European golf after a series of incidents, showed that his personal troubles have not totally eroded his talent with an opening 68 at the PGA Championship on Thursday.
His four-under round at Kiawah Island Golf Resort left him just two shots behind early leader Carl Petterson of Sweden and will have delighted those fans who have stuck by him.
Daly, who won the PGA Championship in 1991 and followed up with a British Open title four years later, has struggled in the past with drink and gambling problems and four failed marriages.
The 46-year-old, nicknamed the 'Wild Thing', was suspended for six months from the PGA Tour in 2008 and, with sponsors' invites declining at a similar rate to his plummet down the world rankings, he switched his attention to Europe.
Daly says he has now dealt with his demons, addressing his alcohol issues and focusing on raising his son 'Little John' while on the European Tour he has found a more welcoming environment.
"The guys on the European Tour are good guys. I'm not saying ours (American players) aren't, but they just seem to be more into helping you out a little bit more than our guys do," he told reporters after his round at the Ocean Course.
"Maybe it's because they don't play for as much money as we do or whatever. But they make me feel good over in Europe."
Daly, who headed to Kiawah after tying for fifth at last week's Reno-Tahoe Open, clearly would like to win back his place on the PGA Tour and reduce the amount of globetrotting he has to do but he isn't about to lose any sleep over the issue.
"Either way, it doesn't really matter to me," he said. "I love playing both tours but my goal would be to be back on our Tour, no doubt. But there's that (European) option, and it's not a bad one to be honest with you."
The Californian's appearances at the PGA Championship since his victory as the ninth alternate for event 21 years ago have hardly been impressive with 12 missed cuts, two withdrawals and a best finish of tied for 29th in 1997.
But Daly was not surprised by his performance at Kiawah on Thursday.
"I think it's been building up for the last five or six weeks," he said. "When I get on a little run, for six, seven, eight weeks in a row, I feel like I have a better chance of playing well, and it's starting to pay off a little bit."
But Daly, who describes his life and his game as "up and down", is not getting carried away by his bright start.
"I don't want to get too up or too down about it," he said. "It's just the first round. But I like where I'm at, and I like the way I'm playing and I like the way I'm feeling. So I'll just go out and just play and have fun."