SOUTHPORT, England -- And in the B-flight of the 137th British Open championship....
This is what it has come to for John Daly, the 1995 British Open champion who looks less like a professional golfer the more time passes. There he was Friday at Royal Birkdale, miles from the cut line, with no hat, bare forearms, and golf shots scattering a British gallery. There were four bogeys and a double on the front side and a jaw-dropping quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 13th. Only one question remained: would the guy even break 90? Daly, who began the week by blistering his former coach, Butch Harmon, for spreading lies about his drinking, actually buckled down -- if bogey golf counts as buckling down. After carding a 9, Daly responded with back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15 and a double on 16. He then made par on the par-5 17th. A finishing bogey would give him an 89, a double would be a 90. Daly hit his approach shot on the par-4 18th over the green. Could he get down in three? He did, after missing a two-footer for par. A bogey. An 89. Everybody exhaled.
There are two ways to look at this. At least Daly finished his round (unlike major winners Sandy Lyle and Rich Beem, who each pulled out mid-round yesterday). Then again, how is a two-time major winner like Daly playing this poorly? In his defense, Daly has battled several injuries of late and by the end of the round he was having trouble holding on to the club with his right hand.
Daly signed one autograph, signed his scorecard, and then headed to the parking lot, bypassing a small group of reporters seeking comment.
One fan got close enough for a question.
"John, can I have a picture?" the fan asked.
"Don't have a camera," Daly answered, leaning into the back seat of a silver Lexus courtesy car and closing the door.
"Anyone know where he's staying" the fan asked the reporters as Daly's car pulled away. "Vincent's? Formby Hall?"
No one knew. Only John Daly knew where he was going.
(Photo: Robert Beck/SI)