Holy Hooters, Batman! John Daly is leading the British Open.
After Greg Norman’s T3 finish at Royal Birkdale and Tom Watson’s runner-up finish at Turnberry last year, we’ve been conditioned to expect the unexpected at the British Open, but Daly in contention at the course where he won the 1995 British Open might be the biggest surprise of all.
In the last few years, Daly has been known more for lap-band surgery, writing country music songs (“All My Exes Wear Rolexes” is probably his finest effort), hanging out with Jon Gruden during a tournament at the Hooters hospitality tent, wearing surrealistic golf clothes and spending the night in a Memphis city drunk tank than anything he did on the golf course. He has always loved St. Andrews though, and on Thursday morning Daly took advantage of favorable conditions and made seven birdies in his first 11 holes. He took a bogey on 17 -- which many players consider a de facto par 5 -- and just missed a birdie putt on 18 to finish with a six-under 66. Dressed in a blue sweater vest with purple paisley pants he must have borrowed from Prince, Daly attacked the course, where Wednesday evening rain had softened the greens.
“You have to be aggressive because the greens are pretty slow,” Daly said after his round. “I left some out there, but I’m happy with my driving.” The 44-year-old Daly said afterward that rib and hip injuries had prevented him from practicing, but that he’s feeling healthier and getting his confidence back. In fact, Daly was probably the most disappointed former champion when Wednesday’s challenge was canceled because of rain. He was telling everyone how much he wanted to win the four-hole exhibition. Maybe he decided he’d take a shot at winning the British Open instead. (Photo credit: Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)