By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
Not everyone is taking the belly putter plunge, though it may feel so on TOUR these days. Some, if you will, are just exchanging information instead of full-fledged dating.
Garrett Willis played with a belly putter at a Beaufort, S.C., course early in the week of The Heritage, used one in a practice round at Harbour Town and continued to work with one on the putting green early Thursday before Round 1. He auditioned some 10 putters during the week, including bellies.
But he just couldn’t take a belly putter to the course when it counted. He sent his caddie to the car to get “Old Faithful” just before the round, a Scotty Cameron prototype he had been using for more than five years.
“I've been having 31, 32, 33 putts a round, which is leading to a lot of missed cuts. And this week is the week I'm going to break away, I'm going to do it, I'm going to switch,” Willis said. “I say that almost every week, but I don't have the guts enough to do it.”
Lack of guts served him well Thursday, as he opened with 64 and ultimately finished T9. And he was, ahem, fourth in putting average.
There’s something to be said for those Old Faithfuls.
NEW WEAPON: Heritage champion Brandt Snedeker carried an Adams Idea Pro a12 hybrid, a new club that will be available to the public in early May. The black-headed club is available in lofts from 16 to 26 degrees and features a steel sole plate with a weight screw inside. Check it out here.
MORE TWEAKS: Matt Kuchar added three inches to his TaylorMade Rossa Corza Ghost putter earlier this year, then two more, to get to a current length of 45 inches. And as he said at The Heritage, he’s not done yet.
“I don't know that it's perfect, but I actually have added an extra degree of loft. So I'm continuing to refine it still and probably will continue to make sure that it's right, may even fiddle with a couple of different putter heads,” said Kuchar, who’s 17th in putting average. “I'm very happy with the way I'm putting and very happy with the putter. It's all new and I want to make sure it's all right.”
RED HOT: Odyssey putters claimed not just winner Snedeker (White Hot XG Rossie) but the entire top 5 at The Heritage. Luke Donald wielded an XG #7H model, Tommy Gainey had a Backstryke Blade, Tim Herron had a White Hot 2-Ball and Ricky Barnes used a White Ice #9 model.
DIALED DOWN: Golf World wrote that Long John Daly wasn’t quite himself at The Heritage – he didn’t have a driver in the bag for the tight, short Harbour Town Golf Links. His only wood was a 13.5-degree TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0 3-wood.
FREE STUFF ALERT: TaylorMade is launching a campaign for its five-layer Penta TP ball, headlined on TOUR by defending FedExCup champion Jim Furyk, which involves giving away 50,000 free six-packs of the product. Go to taylormadegolf.com/testpenta to register (hint: read the rules and regulations to better your chances).
If you missed it Thursday, here’s a look at John Daly’s new-look golf bag -- complete with television screen on it, just like in the movie Caddyshack. Daly said, via his Twitter account, “my new bag-built w/flat screen! Ads, videos & music! Rodney Dangerfield inspired me! Now working on his dance!"
Unfortunately for Daly, he shot a 1-over 71 on Monterey Peninsula Country Club and he’s 1 over through nine holes at Spyglass Hill in the second round.
You’ve seen the University of Farmers commercials, haven’t you? Well, the Farmers Insurance Open has something special planned on Saturday to support its new advertising campaign.
Farmers is encouraging all the players and the fans to show their spirit by wearing their school colors when they come out to Torrey Pines for the third round. There’s an added benefit, too – at least for the pros.
Farmers will award a total of $30,000 to the colleges of the three players who post the best scores on Saturday. The player with the lowest will receive $15,000 for his alma mater’s golf team while second receives $10,000 and third $5,000.
Judging by early tweets, it looks like the players are getting behind the effort, too.
@PGA-JohnDaly: today is college day--low round gets $15k to scholarship college of choice. I'm in Hog Colors & here it goes--WooooPigSooie! #Hogs
@_Chris_Kirk_ College day at the Farmers. Go Dawgs!!!
@Keegan_Bradley: So excited to wear my st john's university colors today. It's university day here at the PGA tour event. Got my red on! Go johnnies!
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Thursday the golf was more eye-opening than the pants John Daly was wearing during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
Of course, the swirling ribbons of brown, tan, pink, orange and black on those trousers were hard to ignore. Ditto for the bright orange shirt and brown carpenters cap.
But Daly's round of 67 on the South Course was his best at Torrey Pines since his victory here in 2004. The trick now will be sustaining that solid play over the next three rounds -- Daly opened with rounds of 68 or better five times last year but never finished higher than 41st.
"It seems like a long time ago," Daly said, thinking back to the fifth victory of his career. "Everybody's saying, hey, it's your 20th anniversary for the PGA and I'm going, oh, my God. It was ‘91 when I won that and 16 on the British. Seems like a long time ago.
"But it's kind of cool. My tournaments that I've won, besides the majors, I think this might be the only one that I've ever won that I get to keep coming back to."
Indeed. The B.C. Open and BellSouth Classic are now defunct. And there was a time the same might be said of Daly's career, but the game's favorite everyman keeps reinventing himself.
A year ago, Daly was so upset after shooting rounds of 79-71 at Torrey Pines that he told the Golf Channel "I'm done" before he left the course. He later clarified the comments, saying he wasn't finished with the game, only that he needed time off to regroup due to outside issues that were making it difficult to focus.
What a difference a year makes, though.
"You get frustrated," Daly said with a shrug when asked about that abrupt departure. "You know, this place means a lot to me. You think about winning here and stuff like I did in '04, and you see Tiger plays here every year. The top golfers play here every year, that says something. It's a special place."
Daly says he's healthier this year than he's been in several seasons. Plus, he feels more comfortable with his putter (Daly ranked 152nd in putts per round last year). Don’t believe him? Well, he took just 25 putts on Thursday.
"I've had a lot of lessons with the putter over the last few years," Daly said. "Somehow I got my lie from 67 to 72 listening to everybody and started cutting putts.
"I actually looked at the putter I won here, an old redneck putter. My lie was 67 and 4°, and I just had the Nike guys build me one that way, and it keeps my right elbow in. Not making a ton of putts, but at least I feel natural over the putts again."
Daly is not fully exempt on the PGA TOUR this year so he needs to take advantage of the opportunities he gets as a past champion and through sponsor's exemptions. His next two starts will come at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun.
"(The game's) still fun, although it's a job," Daly said. "And it's work when you're playing hurt and you're working hard and trying to work around injuries, it does, it's work. When you don't play good it's hard for me to get spots in tournaments.
“... That's why I do a little more at each event, especially the last couple of years because I've been hurt. ... And I'll still do those things, but I feel like if I just stay the way I am and keep doing my rehab on everything every day like I've been doing, hopefully everything will stay strong and I can keep playing better golf."
Regardless of how he plays, though, Daly will always draw a crowd. He's always been open about the difficulties in his life -- whether they've been physical or financial -- and fans definitely relate to him.
"It's awesome. It's really awesome," Daly said. "My mom told me one time if you have more people that love you and like you than hate you, then you've had a pretty successful life. And the fans make me feel that way. I mean, they're awesome coming out and watching me play this early. Everywhere I go, it's been great.
"It's just nice to get a first round under my belt, decent, feeling confident, and hopefully just stay healthy to keep being out able to work and hit the golf ball like I know I can." -- Helen Ross
It took all of about 40 minutes for Tiger Woods to make his first birdie of the 2011 season with Woods sticking his approach shot on the par-3 12th hole on Torrey Pines’ North Course to set up an easy tap-in.
The early leaders? John Daly, who of course got his last career victory here in 2004 when he beat Luke Donald and Chris Riley in a playoff, and Bill Haas, who is coming off a playoff loss at the Bob Hope Classic. Both are at 3 under.
As for Woods’ playing partners, Anthony Kim is also 1 under, while Rocco Mediate is 1 over.
John Daly didn't repeat his bogey-free performance on Day 1, but the veteran will easily make his 14th cut of the year after a 70 in the second round.
For the second day in a row, Daly left a lot of strokes on the greens. His 62 putts in two days is among the worst in the field. Even at 44, he's still one of the longest hitters on TOUR -- his 312-yard average is fifth in the field this week.
John Daly knows that this week's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is probably his last shot at gaining back the PGA TOUR card he lost after the 2006 season. After Thursday's opening 66, getting it back isn't so far-fetched.
"I know the course isn't the hardest we apply all year, but still you got to hit golf shots out here," Daly said. "The pin placements weren't the easiest. I just got to keep grinding. This is probably my last tournament this year. Hopefully something good can happen."
Daly's bogey-free round included just two missed greens. He also hit eight of 14 fairways -- a decent number when popping the ball 320 yards off the tee.
"I need a Rocco week," said Daly, referring to Rocco Mediate, who won the Frys.com Open last week to secure his PGA TOUR card for the next two years. Daly was equally amazed at Mediate's four-eagle week.
"That was great to see that happen. I don't think I've made four shots total in the 21 years out here that I can remember," Daly said. "It's just amazing. It gives us hope. I'm happy for him."
Daly has strong ties to this tournament. Daly, a longtime resident of Memphis, is good friends with tournament host and Memphis native Justin Timberlake.
"Yeah, it's a tournament that I've always played in, no matter what, where I was, if I won a major, won a tournament, I love coming out here," Daly said. "Me and Justin are pretty good friends so it's great that he's the host. As long as they want me here, I'll always come back, no matter what kind of year I have."
After three rounds, John Daly was 5 under for the week. Following Sunday’s round, he was six over. That’s what happens when you stumble in with an 82 that was capped off with a quadruple-bogey 8 on the final hole.
At 195th on the money list coming into the week, Daly was in desperate need of a good performance if he has any chance of climbing into the top 125 by the end of the season. He certainly didn’t get that at CordeValle, where he capped that 11-over final round by hitting his first tee shot out of bounds and then four-putting from 27 feet.
The result was a back-nine 44 for Daly, who dropped from a tie for 30th to 72nd (or last place).
Daly’s ball-striking wasn’t all bad -- he hit 12 of 18 greens -- but his putting was with 38 putts, which included three three-putts and the closing four-putt.