TWO years after crashing out of the British Open at Royal Birkdale with rounds of 80 and 89 John Daly lit up St Andrews yesterday with more than just his trousers.
It is six years since Daly won a tournament, he does not have a full US tour card any more and he is 455th in the world.
He is also almost half the man he was following gastric band surgery last year that has brought his weight down from well over 20 stones to less than 14. His collection of “Loudmouth” trousers have left him in the news, though, and he showed he could still play with an opening 67 at Loch Lomond last week wearing the same pair he chose for today.
“I’ve been hurt for a good three-and-a-half years. It makes it tough to get your confidence up when you’re working around injuries,” he said.
“I remember when I came here in ‘95 I was playing horrible golf. I think I had come off missing a few cuts and didn’t know what to expect, but I knew how much I loved this place.”
On his weight he added: “It’s amazing what it’s done for me and what it’s done for my daughter — she’s probably lost 100 pounds since (last) July.
“I haven’t had a drink since I had the band put in. Beer won’t go down.”
TOM WATSON, the sensation of the 2009 British Open when he almost won at the age of 59, wasn’t all that impressed with Rory McIlroy’s 63. Having stated that he thought “72 on Friday and 68 today” could be considered good scores, he was asked, well what about the guy who shot 63 today. He simply replied: “Well, that’s five under par.”
And he went on: “The course was there for the taking this morning but the wind will start this afternoon and it’s going to blow hard tomorrow and through the weekend. What ‘she’ gave away this morning, ‘she’ will take away the next three days and it will be a wonderful test of golf.”
Watson’s 73 leaves him little chances of repeating last year’s heroics and he knows why: “I am not playing as well as I was this time last year.”
2000 Irish Amateur Open champion Louis Oosthuizen from South Africa followed Rory McIlroy on the leader board with a sparkling 65 that contained just one blemish, predictably enough at the 17th.
He won in Ireland at the tender age of 17 but hasn’t quite realised all the expectations placed in him at the time.
His only win on the European Tour came in this year’s Andalucia Open in Malaga but he is clearly a golfer of considerable talent and certainly not one to be discounted.
“Rory and I were in the final group in Dubai last year when he won,” he recalled.
“I had a poor last round and he deserved to win. I’ve missed the cut in my three Opens so far but I love St Andrews and it’s holy ground we’re walking on.”
YOU would think after successfully handling the pressure of a play-off at Turnberry last year to win his first major that defending Open champion Stewart Cink would be up to picking his own clothes.
Apparently not. The American was asked whether he was superstitious and would be wearing lime green as he did for the final round 12 months ago.
“Kermit green we call it, Kermit,” corrected the 37-year-old referring to the character out of the Muppets.
“No, I’m not superstitious in any way. And because I’m a Nike player, they lay our clothes out for us Thursday through Sunday, so that was their scripting for the week.
“My scripting this Sunday doesn’t include lime green.”
TALKING of the weather, 1989 Open champion Mark Calcavecchia is not impressed by the forecasting going on at St Andrews.
“I don’t think they have a clue what the weather is going to do — they just say it is going to be sh***y so when it turns out reasonably you are pleasantly surprised,” said the 50-year-old.
THE Open is, in reality, an “open” championship, meaning that anybody has a right to try and qualify and play. Steven Tiley from Kent got to St Andrews by coming out best in a play-off for one of two spots in the final local qualifying and certainly made the best of his chance yesterday with a splendid round of 66.
“I played in the 2004 Open as an amateur but this is my first as a professional,” said Tiley, who is a member of Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management stable. On turning professional in 2007, he qualified for the Asian Tour and didn’t know what his next step should be. So he contacted Chandler, admitted that he hadn’t a clue as to how to best handle the situation and Chubby was so taken by his honesty that he took him on board and they’re still an “item” today although his biggest claim to fame so far was a win in last year’s Egyptian Open.
Asked if he had a big following as a result in Egypt, he laughed: “Massive, my face is on all the billboards and everything.”
A quick quiz question for your mates down the pub. Name the person appearing at St Andrews this week who has featured at the most Opens. Answer: Ivor Robson, the official starter who is overseeing his 36th consecutive championship.
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