ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Trading his mullet for a wacky outfit, John Daly rekindled memories of his stunning win at the Old Course in 1995.
The trouble-plagued golfer took advantage of calm conditions at St. Andrews by shooting a 6-under 66 on Thursday, equaling the best round of his British Open career.
No one made a bolder fashion statement, either. Daly wore lavender paisley pants, a sky blue sleeveless sweater, a peach shirt and a turquoise cap. None of it matched. Not that it mattered.
Strolling the course puffing on a cigarette and carrying a diet soda, Daly posted his best score since a 66 at Royal St. George in 1993. It could have been a lot better, too – four putts lipped out or caught the edge of the cup, including one that spun 180 degrees around the back of the 12th hole to end a streak of four straight birdies.
Could it be ’95 all over again?
That year, Daly managed to put aside the problems that have marred his career – everything from too much alcohol to too much money squandered – and captured his second major championship, beating Costantino Rocca in a playoff with a mop of blond hair that was much longer than it is now.
“It’s a golf course, I don’t know, I just love it. I don’t know why,” said Daly, who was tied for the clubhouse lead with Scotland’s Andrew Coltart. “It suits my game. Just a special, special place.”
But that score wasn’t likely to hold up on a surprisingly warm day with little wind off St. Andrews Bay and only a sprinkling of rain. A number of players stripped off their jackets and played in short sleeves.
Twenty-one-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland drove the green at No. 9 and rolled in an eagle putt, then ripped off a string of birdies on the homeward nine that sent his score plunging to 8 under through 16 holes. He had a shot at the lowest score in major championship history, 63.
Tiger Woods wasted no time getting on the leaderboard. The world’s top-ranked player, still seeking his first win since a sex scandal gave his reputation a beating, was 5 under with five holes still to play.
Woods is seeking his fourth Open title and 15th major championship, which would leave him only three shy of Jack Nicklaus’ career record. And, of course, Woods won the last two British championships played at St. Andrews, romping to dominating wins in 2000 and 2005.