It’s been a long time since John Daly has been in this position, in contention going into the final round. But that’s what he’s in after a 3-under 67 Saturday at Shaughnessy G&CC, where Daly is seeking his first win since 2004.
On a course where accuracy off the tee is paying off for Chad Campbell, Daly has somehow managed to bomb-and-gouge his way into the hunt. Saturday, Daly just 57 percent of his fairways, but he did manage to hit nearly 80 percent of his greens.
At one point, Daly made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine before finishing with five birdies and just two bogeys. And it was because he hit driver most of the day that he was able to set up those opportunities.
“If you do lay-up, you can't get to the green on your approach shots at all,” Daly said. “Some of the par-4s are so long you have to drive it. You've just got to attack. I mean, it's the only way you can do it.”
As for Daly trying to win for the first time in seven years, he’s trying to not let himself think about that.
“It would be nice, but it's so hard you're thinking more about the golf course,” Daly said. “It would be great of course. I just know it's not where you can say, okay, that's six holes. I screw up a little bit and I can make eagle on that. You can't do that out here. Every hole is just too hard.”
Competitive is something Daly has struggled to be. With limited status, he’s made just 14 starts this year and made the cut in five of them. His best finish was a tie for 65th at Torrey Pines.
Daly also hasn’t had a top-10 on TOUR since 2005 when he had a pair of runner-up finishes that year. But with recent weight loss and rounds like Saturday’s, Daly is feeling good about himself.
“I have so much more energy,” he said. “It’s a new me and hopefully it pays off.”