Lesson from Daly: Expect the unexpected
You can't help but root for John Daly.
In a sport whose superstar resembles more machine than man, Daly is a player we can actually relate to. He's Superman with a gut, Dale Jr. with a blind spot, Joe Hacker with a short game (and the major championships to prove it).
Sure, he's got problems. But hey, who doesn't? It's his flaws that endear him to fans, hundreds of whom were following the everyman icon Sunday on his way to one of the PGA Tour's most popular victories in years.
Daly gives golf personality. He's anything but robotic on the course, smoking a cigarette between shots and wasting no time before grabbing a club, winding up and firing away. In the get-in-shape-or-get-left-behind environment on the PGA Tour, Daly is a breed of golfer that's becoming rarer each season.
We've learned to expect the unexpected from Daly, and he certainly didn't let us down this week. His booming drives made him famous, but it's his short game that earned him the biggest payday of his career ($864,000) at Torrey Pines.
|Around the tours ...|
(7,607 yards, par 72)
(6,874 yards, par 72)
$4.5 million (Winner: $810,000) Top finishers:
1x John Daly (-10)
T2 Chris Riley
T2 Luke Donald
T4 Phil Mickelson
T4 Thomas Bjorn
T4 Bo Van Pelt
T4 Shigeki Maruyama
T4 Duffy Waldorf
T4 Jesper Parnevik
T10 Tiger Woods
T10 Billy Mayfair
T10 Jay Haas
T10 Brandt Jobe
T10 Tom Pernice, Jr.
T10 Stewart Cink
Some facts and figures from Daly's victory:
Daly's 3-wood approach from the fairway on the first playoff hole (par-5 18th) found the bunker behind the green, while his two playoff foes -- Luke Donald and Chris Riley -- decided to lay up. After Riley and Donald each put their third shots within six feet of the cup, Daly blasted out of the sand from 100 feet to within inches. He made the bunny for birdie, while Riley and Donald missed their putts.
Defending Buick Invitational champion Tiger Woods was erratic in his first event since January, missing more than half his fairways in a frustrating week.
Despite his struggles, he finished at 8-under -- just two shots short of the playoff. He rallied to within two shots of the lead Sunday after playing his first 10 holes at 4-under, but just when he appeared to be ready to make a run at a vulnerable Daly, he missed four straight fairways and dropped two shots -- three if you count a par on the very birdie-able par-5 13th.
Next up for Woods is the Nissan Open at Riviera, where he made his PGA Tour debut at the age of 16. It's also one of two events he's played at least three times as a pro and hasn't won.
"I've had my chances there to win and just haven't been able to do it," Woods said. "Who knows, this week could be the week."
Also playing at Riviera will be Vijay Singh, who missed his first cut in almost a year at the Buick Invitational.
David Lefort is ESPN.com's golf editor, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.
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