Daly shoots 62 in Hong Kong Open, calls it 'one of best rounds in years'

Updated: November 23, 2008, 10:20 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

HONG KONG -- John Daly shot a bogey-free 8-under 62 on Sunday in the final round of the Hong Kong Open on Sunday, a round the struggling two-time major winner ranked among the best he's had in three years.

After opening with consecutive 68s, the 42-year-old American had a 73 on Saturday to drop out of title contention. He had eight birdies Sunday to finish a stroke off the course record on the tight Hong Kong Golf Club course.

"It feels really, really good. It feels like, 'Yeah, maybe I still can play a little bit,' " Daly said. "I wasn't expecting this much this week and to shoot one of probably my best rounds in three years, I'm pretty happy with it."

Taiwan's Lin Wen-tang birdied the second playoff hole to edge Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari in a dramatic finish, becoming the event's first Asian winner in a decade.

The three players had finished the co-sanctioned tournament at 15 under. The last Asian to win the Hong Kong Open was South Korea's Kang Wook-soon in 1998.

Daly, the 1991 PGA Championship and 1995 British Open winner, has not had a PGA Tour card since 2006 when his two-year exemption expired from his last victory at the Buick Invitational in 2004. He made only five cuts in 17 starts on the PGA Tour this year and earned just over $56,000. His world ranking has fallen to 788.

The American has also had a tumultuous year off the course, going through a divorce and spending a night in jail on Oct. 27 after being found "extremely intoxicated and uncooperative," police said, outside a Hooters restaurant in North Carolina.

Daly said he was surprised by the strong turnout for his early morning round Sunday in the event sanctioned by the European and Asian tours. He drew a large crowd at the 18th and dozens of fans were waiting for autographs after he finished.

The American will now head to Australia for the Australian Masters at Huntingdale next week and the Australian PGA at Coolum the next.

"I can't remember the last time I had three weeks in a row that I could play," Daly said. "That's probably why I'm hoping to get a lot of invites in the European tour and play four, five, six in a row. That's the only way I can play good golf."

Daly also apologized for his ill-tempered last visit to Coolum in November 2002 when he threw his putter and ball into the water after shooting a 78.

He had received a $200,000 appearance fee but was disqualified for failing to sign his card and fined $5,600 and ordered to write an apology to a tour official he verbally abused. A scuba diver retrieved the ball and putter and it has been mounted in the pro shop at the Hyatt Regency Coolum course in Queensland state.

Daly said he shouldn't have made the trip a week after his mother died, but friends persuaded him to go.

"I kind of screwed up," Daly said. "It's my fault. I shouldn't have done it."

Italy's Molinari was the first to be eliminated in the playoff on the opening extra hole when he could manage only a par-four on the 18th before a packed gallery.

Lin appeared to blow his chances on the same hole when he pulled a drive into the rough.

But he nailed an audacious 150-yard wedge shot through a tiny gap in the trees to land his approach to within 6 feet of the pin and made a birdie to force a second-hole playoff with Northern Ireland's McIlroy.

"At first I didn't know what to do ... but I told myself to do my best to hit this shot towards the green and maybe God helped me, because I made it," Lin said.

On the next hole, the 18th again, McIlroy scuffed his drive into the left rough, while Lin drove straight down the fairway and chipped to within inches of the cup to set up his biggest victory.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.