|Harrington had no problem playing with John Daly|
|Tuesday, March 18, 2014 8:15 PM|
By DOUG FERGUSON
ORLANDO, Fla. — All signs — and particularly the numbers — pointed to another meltdown by John Daly.
He hit three balls into the water on the 16th hole at Innisbrook and made a 12, still only the fourth-highest score he has made on any one hole on the PGA Tour. And when he missed a 4-foot bogey putt on the last hole, he signed for a 90. Daly has had at least one round at 80 or higher every year since 1996.
So what was it like to be in the middle of this? Not a problem for Padraig Harrington.
“He was perfectly fine to play with — very respectful, no issues at all in terms of golf,” Harrington recalled.
Daly opened with a 74 in the Valspar Championship and his second round got off to a rocky start with a four-putt double bogey on the second hole.
“He came out pressing — as we all did — on Friday,” Harrington said. “But he was very respectful to play with. He was useful out there. He was trying in terms of lines and getting clubs and things like that. You could see what he was doing. It wasn’t like I wouldn’t prefer him to be there.”
As for his big number? Daly referred to as a “good up-and-down for 12.”
Two years ago, Daly hit seven shots into the water on the 11th hole at The Lakes in the Australian Open when he ran out of golf balls and walked in. He played that day with Hunter Mahan, who also found him to be good company on the golf course.
The scores paint a picture, however. It was the 62nd time that Daly has posted an 80 or higher and that’s just on the PGA Tour. His highest score was an 18 at Bay Hill in 1998 when he hit six balls in the water on the par-5 sixth hole. He followed that with a birdie on the next hole.
In the Dutch Open years ago, Daly played the final three holes in 1-under par to break 90.
CAROLINA: Wells Fargo has extended its title sponsorship on the PGA Tour for five more years, even if that means leaving Quail Hollow for one year.
The Wells Fargo Championship became one of the top events when it began in 2003 because of the golf course and hospitality. It now will be part of the PGA Tour schedule through 2019, one of seven tournaments that are secure through at least 2019.
The PGA Championship will be held at Quail Hollow in 2017. Instead of two tournaments in one year, the Wells Fargo Championship will move in 2017 to Eagle Point in Wilmington, N.C.,
SPARTAN SISTERS: Juli Inkster selected Pat Hurst to be her assistant captain at the Solheim Cup next year in Germany, a natural pick. They are longtime friends and traveling companions. Both went to San Jose State — just not at the same time.
She said Hurst called her “Mrs. Inkster” the first time they met. Their friendship began in South Africa when she invited Hurst to be her partner in a World Cup.
“I’m nine years older than Pat, but we get along really well,” Inkster added. “We’re from the same area. She’s kind of a flower. She doesn’t really stress out too much, which is great, and I don’t, either. So that helps.
“I really trust her and I trust her opinions. She really thinks things out. She might not make a decision right away but she’ll think it out and she’ll work it out and then she’ll give you her opinion. And sometimes I kind of go too quick, so I think she’ll be good at reining me in a little bit.”
CHESSON’S CHASE: Chesson Hadley knocked in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and celebrated like it was a winning putt on Sunday afternoon.
This was only Friday at Innisbrook but it was worthy of a fist pump.
He made the cut on the number.
“That felt just as good as the win last week,” Hadley said, referring to his victory in the Puerto Rico Open. “I hate missing cuts. It stinks.”
He knows from experience, having missed five in a row. But after the long birdie to make the cut at the Valspar Championship, Hadley made the most of his chance with rounds of 67-71 on the weekend. That moved him up to a tie for 14th.
Hadley now is No. 59 in the world and has two more weeks to try to crack the top the 50 and get into the Masters.
ROAD TO THE MASTERS: It looks virtually certain that the Masters will again keep its field under 100 players, which Augusta National prefers. The Masters, with the smallest field among the majors, has not exceeded 100 players since 103 competed in 1966.
John Senden’s win at the Valspar Championship made him the 94th player eligible. There are three PGA Tour events remaining where a winner could get in (Bay Hill, Texas Open and the Houston Open). From the world ranking after the Texas Open, only Stephen Gallacher at No. 37 is a lock to get in.
That leaves Richard Sterne (No. 52) and George Coetzee (No. 56) on the outside. Neither are PGA Tour members and there are no European Tour events remaining before the cutoff through the world ranking. Neither are in the field next week at the Texas Open.
For PGA Tour members, Chesson Hadley is at No. 59 and Ryan Palmer is at No. 63.
DIVOTS: Jason Day is done until the Masters. He withdrew from Bay Hill with lingering pain from a thumb injury. The Australian plans to rest the next two weeks and then go to Augusta National early with Colin Swatton, his caddie and coach. … The opening three events on the Florida Swing were won with scores of 8-under-par (Honda Classic), 4-under-par (Cadillac Championship) and 7-under-par (Valspar Championship). Throw out opposite field events or majors and the last time three straight PGA Tour events were won with a score that was single-digit under par was in 1990. Payne Stewart won the Byron Nelson Classic (8 under), Greg Norman won the Memorial (even) and Ben Crenshaw won Colonial (8 under). … Jonathan Byrd tied for 32nd at Innisbrook and earned $31,540. That enabled him to fulfill his major medical extension for the rest of the year. … Here’s one way to measure the conditions at Innisbrook last week. The difference between first and last place after one round was only 10 shots. … The Valspar Championship was the fifth PGA Tour event this year that featured a 54-hole cut because more than 78 players made it to the weekend.
STAT OF THE WEEK: John Senden was the first player to win a PGA Tour event with an opening round over par since Justin Rose at the U.S. Open last year.
FINAL WORD: “Whoever shows up at an event nowadays has a chance to win.” — Patrick Reed.
Woods pulls out of Bay Hill because of back pain: Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Tuesday because of persistent pain in his back, creating even more uncertainty for golf’s No. 1 player with the Masters only three weeks away.
And that’s if Woods can even play in the Masters.
“I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year,” Woods wrote on his website. “I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event. Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven’t subsided.”
Woods had to withdraw after 13 holes of the final round at the Honda Classic three weeks ago because of what he called back spasms and pain in his lower back. He tried to defend his title the following week at Doral, only for his back to flare up again in the final round. He closed with a 78, the highest Sunday score of his PGA Tour career and the first final round without a birdie.
After a week of rest and treatment, he didn’t feel fit to play Bay Hill, where he is an 8-time winner, including the past two years.
This is only the second time that Woods has not played Bay Hill. He also missed in 2010 when he sat out more than four months during the scandal in his personal life.
The Masters, which is April 10-13, is the only major Woods has never missed.
“It’s too early to know about the Masters and I will continue to be evaluable and work closely with my doctors,” Woods added. “I feel badly that I won’t be able to play in this great tournament this week.”
Woods first showed signs of back pain at Bethpage Black at The Barclays in 2012 and felt twinges during the final round of the PGA Championship last year; when his back bothered him in the final round of The Barclays two weeks later, he said it was unrelated.
This has been the longest sustained problem with the lower back.
Woods is off to the worst start of his 18 years on tour.
At Torrey Pines, where his eight victories included a U.S. Open, Woods shot his highest score on American soil with a 79 to miss the 54-hole cut. He tied for 41st in the Dubai Desert Classic a week later for his worst finish in that event.
Woods had said he spent his offseason working on his body and didn’t spend enough time on his game, so it was troubling for him to then deal with yet another injury. He shot a 65 in the third round of the Honda Classic before having what he described as back spasms similar to The Barclays last year.
At Doral, he was only three shots out of the lead going into the final round and in the penultimate group when he said an awkward stance while playing out of a bunker on the sixth fairway of the Blue Monster caused his back to start hurting again.
Torrey Pines gets a US Open encore: In the first U.S. Open that went prime time, Woods hobbled his way around Torrey Pines and made two eagles in six holes to take the 54-hole lead, made an all-or-nothing birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff and won his 14th major on a shattered left leg in a playoff that went 19 holes.
“When we look back on 2008, I think one of the things we all talked about is, ‘How can we possibly top that’?” USGA executive director Mike Davis recalled Tuesday. “From my perspective, that was one of the great U.S. Opens ever.”
He’ll find out seven years from now.
The USGA formally announced that Torrey Pines will get an encore by hosting the U.S. Open in 2021.
The San Diego city council approved a proposal that brings the national championship back to the public golf course that was built along the bluffs of the Pacific Ocean, making it one of the most scenic courses in America. It also requires the USGA to pay $2.5 million for a site fee (including parking areas) and allows the city to get 20 percent of hospitality sales.
And being on the West Coast, it tends to get the most viewers.
That 2008 U.S. Open was the first that truly was shown in prime time, ending at 10 p.m. EDT on Saturday and 9 p.m. EDT on Sunday. When the next U.S. Open is held at Torrey Pines, it will be the sixth time in 14 years that it is played on the West Coast.
Torrey Pines hosts a PGA Tour event every year, which Woods has won seven times. Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan are the only players to win a regular PGA Tour event and a major champion on the same course in the same year. Woods has done it twice: at Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach in 2000.