AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — While Trevor Immelman was winning the Masters for his first major, John Daly was having surgery in Arkansas with hopes of getting his train-wreck of a career back on track.
Daly has cited injury as the primary reason for his poor play over the last two years, during which he has withdrawn eight times and missed the cut 14 times in 33 events. The injury dates to the ’07 Honda Classic, when he tried to stop his swing upon hearing the click of a fan’s camera. More than a year later, his doctor believes he found the problem.
The surgery was to repair a torn muscle in his stomach.
“When he tried to stop swinging at the Honda Classic, he tore his rotator cuff and he also dislocated two rib joints where they attach to the spine,” said Dr. Steve Whitelaw, who works with the Arkansas Razorbacks. “We rehabbed all that, but the whole time he had dislocated ribs, he tore the ligaments around them.”
Whitelaw said when Daly complained of more pain, they ran a full body scan and discovered the muscle tear in the stomach.
“It was not attached, and the muscle shrunk down,” he said. “When he swings, he uses that area with his stomach and core strength. He could only go so long without hurting. He was in a cycle he could not get out of.”
Whitelaw said Daly might be able to hit easy wedge shots this week, and the recovery should be quick. Where the two-time major champion returns is uncertain, although it could be Europe.
Daly has agreed to play the Spanish Open in Seville in two weeks. That’s opposite the Wachovia Championship, which did not offer Daly an exemption this year. Daly is contemplating an extended stay in Europe, possibly playing the Italian Open and Irish Open the following two weeks, and perhaps the BMW Championship at Wentworth.
LATE FINISH Trevor Immelman’s victory in the Masters didn’t generate much attention in South Africa, mainly because he finished his round at 2:30 a.m. in his native country, after most people – and newspapers – had gone to bed.
Expect that to happen at the U.S. Open for South Africa, Europe and even the United Kingdom.
The U.S. Open has decided to go prime time in the United States, with a 7 p.m PDT finish at Torrey Pines. If everything goes according to schedule – rare in golf with so much slow play – the tournament will end at 3 a.m. in Britain, and roughly an hour later in continental Europe and South Africa.
“When do you say to the West Coast, ‘The tournament must end at 4 o’clock your time,”’ USGA executive director David Fay said. “I know it puts Europe at a disadvantage. We tend to look east, where it’s just as easy to look to the west. If K.J. Choi (of South Korea) is leading, the time might be better for Asia.”
The last time a major was held on the West Coast was Pebble Beach for the 2000 U.S. Open, and the final round was scheduled to end at 5 p.m. PDT.
RYDER UPDATE It’s tough to keep track of the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with so much emphasis placed on this year’s performance and double points available at the majors. But with the first major in the books, a quick review shows only two of the top eight in the standings have won this year.
Tiger Woods leads the standings – no shock there.
Stewart Cink is second on the strength of two second-place finishes and a pair of thirds, including the Masters. Phil Mickelson, who won at Riviera, was in third place. The rest of the top eight – remember, Paul Azinger gets four captain’s picks – are Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Justin Leonard and Brandt Snedeker.
Snedeker moved into the top eight with his tie for third at the Masters, which earned him almost as many points (870) as Sean O’Hair got for winning in Tampa (870).
DIMARCO MASTERS Chris DiMarco finally won on the second week of April. Too bad he wasn’t at the Masters.
DiMarco, who played in the final group two straight years and lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods in 2005, failed to qualify for the Masters for the first time since 2000.
According to Golfweek magazine, DiMarco and several PGA Tour players from central Florida gathered last Wednesday at Sugarloaf Mountain, a terrific new course north of Orlando designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
DiMarco shot a 5-under 67 and won the “Sugarloaf Masters” by one shot over Garrett Willis and Fulton Allem. No word on whether he was awarded a green cap from the club.
DIVOTS Michelle Wie has accepted an exemption to play July 17-20 at the LPGA State Farm Rail Classic. She previously accepted an invitational to play the preceding week at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. … Among the faces in the crowd at the Masters was Japanese star Ai Miyazato, who was at Augusta for the first time. … Greg Norman’s longtime tournament, the Merrill Lynch Shootout, has raised its purse to $2.9 million. … The last two Masters champions, Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman, had only one PGA Tour victory before earning the green jacket.
STAT OF THE WEEK A year after Zach Johnson played the par 5s in 11 under to win the Masters, Trevor Immelman was only 3 under on the par 5s.
FINAL WORD “I’m more famous now than when I was famous.” – Louise Suggs, who in the last two years has won the Bob Jones Award from the USGA and the William D. Richardson Award from the Golf Writers Association of America.