DALY TAKES HIS FIRST STEP BACK
This is an article from the Aug. 4, 1997 issue
Call it good planning or just good luck, but John Daly's
comeback at last week's Canon Greater Hartford Open couldn't
have turned out any better. Although he was never in
contention--the tournament was won by Tour rookie Stewart
Cink--Daly drew the largest galleries at the TPC at River
Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
He was greeted warmly by fans eager to show they were rooting
for him to lick the alcoholism and other problems that have
brought him to the brink of ruin on several occasions. Daly
responded with a 70-71-67-68-276, four under par, for a
21st-place finish, nine shots behind Cink but one up on his
demons. "I love these people," Daly said. "This has been a
really sweet week."
It was the public's first glimpse of Daly since the U.S. Open at
Congressional, where he walked off the course midway through the
second round without saying a word to his caddie or his playing
partners. "He got the shakes so bad that it scared him," says
Fuzzy Zoeller, Daly's best friend on Tour. But the shakes didn't
come from alcohol--Daly had spent six weeks at the Betty Ford
Clinic in Palm Springs, Calif., during the spring after a
drinking binge caused him to drop out of the Players
Championship--but as a result of his diet and medication. So
between his Open walkout and his appearance at Hartford, Daly
cut back his intake of Diet Coke from 20 cans a day to "two or
three," stopped taking an antidepressant medication and began
eating more sensibly. The most visible result is that he has
lost almost 40 pounds and weighs about 195.
The new Daly--or, at least, the latest new Daly--also is using a
three-wood on many holes instead of a driver, giving up a little
distance for accuracy. "I was really pretty conservative here,"
Daly said on Sunday at Hartford. "I went for the middle of
greens instead of the pins. It was nice to get back in the
groove of things."
Daly will skip this week's Sprint International outside Denver
but will play in the Buick Open and the PGA Championship. He
also says that he won't play more than two consecutive weeks for
the rest of the year, giving him more time to work on himself.
"I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow," Daly says. "It's
a tough battle. My disease is such that I can go down to the
liquor store and buy my death if I want to. I've just got to
keep plugging along."
CINK'S VICTORY LEAVES MAGGERT SEEING RED
When 24-year-old Tour rookie Stewart Cink mentioned, after
winning in Hartford, that Tom Kite was his idol, a few writers
giggled. "Was that funny?" Cink asked blankly. Told that he
could be accused of brownnosing since Kite is the captain of
this year's Ryder Cup team, Cink laughed and said, "Oh, yeah,
did I mention that Lanny Wadkins [the 1995 captain] was my
favorite player two years ago?"
There's no shot, of course, that Kite would make Cink one of his
two captain's picks for the U.S. team. The same probably applies
to Jeff Maggert, considering the way he played down the stretch
in the U.S. Open (five over on the last six holes) and at
Hartford (one drive in the water and two in the rough on
Sunday's last five holes).
When Maggert stepped up to hit his drive on the 72nd hole, a
444-yard par-4, he was tied with Cink for the lead at 13 under
par. Maggert pulled his tee shot into the rough, hit his second
shot over the green into more rough on a downhill slope, then
chipped 30 feet past the cup and missed the putt. The bogey cost
him not only a chance at his second career Tour victory (he has
been second or tied for second nine times) but also the 150
Ryder Cup points that would have vaulted him from 12th to
seventh place and virtually assured him of a spot on the team.
Instead he earned 80 points to inch up to 11th (the top 10
qualify automatically), just behind Davis Love III, a longtime
After his debacle on the final hole, Maggert stormed off the
green and up a hill to the scorer's tent, even though playing
partner Tom Byrum still had a makable birdie putt that would
have put him into a playoff with Cink. While Byrum was lining up
his putt, Maggert threw his putter to the ground in the scorer's
tent. Byrum, who barely missed the putt, said he was unaffected
by Maggert's tantrum. Maggert, meanwhile, declined interview
Maggert might still qualify for the U.S. team in the next three
weeks, but that might not be a good thing for captain Kite's
squad, considering that performance--and grace--under pressure
is critical in the Ryder Cup.
THE GREAT DEBATE OVER RYDER CUP ROOKIES
As many as 10 rookies could be among the 24 players competing in
September's Ryder Cup, the most since the match became
competitive in 1983. The prospect has drawn contrasting opinions
from the two captains. While Tom Kite expresses concern, Seve
Ballesteros welcomes the development. "I've played in eight
matches as a player, and the best I ever felt was in the first
one," he says. "I was told to just go out and play, and that's
what I did. I had no responsibilities, no worries. I was totally
wrapped up in my own game. The problem with experience is that
it comes with baggage. Sometimes that helps in the Ryder Cup,
but sometimes it weighs you down."
Ballesteros believes the quality of the player is more important
than his experience. "Look at Phil Mickelson at Oak Hill," he
says. "He won three points out of three as a rookie and looked
as if he had been playing Ryder Cup golf all his life. Some
players revel in the atmosphere, and some don't." The vital
factor, Ballesteros says, is whether or not a golfer is playing
well. "Confidence is everything," he says. "Give me a rookie
playing really well over an experienced player who's trying to
find his game."
Nevertheless, the statistics suggest that rookies can be a
bigger detriment than Ballesteros realizes. Since 1985 the team
with the fewest first-year players has won each time. Says
Bernhard Langer, "It's all about balance. Sure, you need some
new blood, but if Europe is to win we also need players who know
what it's all about when the pressure is on. I don't think we
can win the Ryder Cup without guys like Nick Faldo and Ian
U.S. JUNIOR RUNNER-UP MIGHT GO PRO SOON
With his wraparound Oakley sunglasses and confident swagger,
17-year-old South African phenom Trevor Immelman certainly looks
like a Tour player. But does he have the game and the maturity
to succeed at the pro level? We might find out soon, if his
comments after last week's U.S. Junior are any indication.
"My options are open," said Immelman shortly after losing to
Jason Allred of Ashland, Ore., one up, in the Junior final at
Aronimink Golf Club, outside Philadelphia. "I can't tell you I'm
not going to turn pro next month. When the time is right, I'll
do it. The young guys are starting to dominate. Tiger [Woods] is
21, Ernie [Els] is 27, and [Justin] Leonard is 25."
Although Immelman is arguably the finest junior golfer in the
world, some question whether he's ready for the pro ranks.
Fellow South African Gary Player, who won the '62 PGA at
Aronimink, recently said that Immelman should go to college.
Others, though, point out that last Saturday's defeat, in which
Immelman lost on a stray approach shot on the 18th hole, marked
his third runner-up finish in three significant amateur
tournaments this summer. He also lost to Craig Watson in the
British Amateur and finished second to Kevin Stadler, son of
Tour player Craig Stadler, at the Junior World Championships in
For now Immelman says his thoughts are only on defending his
title in the Maxfli PGA Juniors later this month and that he
won't decide until September at the earliest. But his words seem
to convey a youthful impatience to join his good friend and
countryman Els on the Tour someday soon. "I'm not scared to go
out and compete with the legends of the game," Immelman says.
PLEASE, NO EMMY JOKES
Todd Miller, the 17-year-old son of Johnny Miller, wasn't the
only player at last week's U.S. Junior with a famous parent.
Also in the 156-player field was Andreas Huber, 17, of Garden
City, N.Y. Huber, the son of soap opera star Susan Lucci,
reached the second round before falling to Michael Beard of Palm
Desert, Calif., 3 and 2.
THE SHAG BAG
Dick Taylor, the editor of Golf World magazine from 1962 to
1969, and its vice president from 1970 to 1989, died last
Thursday in Pinehurst, N.C. He was 72.... Laura Davies's putting
woes continue. She missed a three-foot birdie putt on the 18th
hole on Sunday, enabling Tammie Green to force a playoff at the
Giant Eagle LPGA Classic. Green then won with an eagle on the
fifth playoff hole.... Ben Bates claimed his first victory in
179 pro starts when he won the Nike Wichita Open on Sunday.
Masters champion Tiger Woods has the lowest stroke average in
the first three majors of the season, but Ernie Els (right),
winner of the U.S. Open, has a better average finish (a figure
determined by adding a player's finishes at Augusta,
Congressional and Royal Troon and dividing by three) and has won
more money. Here's a look at the top 10 performers in the majors
to date, ranked by average finish.
PLAYER AVG. FINISH STROKE AVG. MONEY
Ernie Els 9.3 70.5 $544,865
Davis Love III 11.0 71.1 $159,371
Jim Furyk 12.3 71.2 $250,245
Tom Lehman 13.0 70.8 $243,110
Tiger Woods 14.6 70.0 $535,278
Justin Leonard 14.6 70.6 $510,928
Jose Maria Olazabal 16.0 71.3 $117,301
Lee Westwood 17.7 71.6 $97,450
Colin Montgomerie 18.7 71.6 $309,507
Fred Couples 22.0 71.7 $153,845
The professional tournaments Gary Player, winner of last week's
Senior British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, has