by Ralph Routon
By Bob Condron
ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND — John Daly is a country western song walking down the fairway of life. There are big, deep pot bunkers scattered around everywhere. A rough that grabs at his clothes and scary, dark things crawling around in the underbrush.
There are hazards and out of bound ropes around every fairway. And something compels him to get close to all of them. To step over at times.
It’s a black and white movie. A little out of focus and blurred. The music is not right and none of it makes any sense. It never makes sense.
But, all of a sudden it all switches. It’s in brilliant Technicolor, the sun’s out and people are smiling. Birds are chirping, the squirrels are cute and there are no pot bunkers or out of bounds markers anywhere. The fairways stretch out to fill the horizon. John strides down the middle of them, tipping his hat to the applause. Every shot is dead on. 350 yard drives, putts that drop lightly in the cup as they curl over manicured greens. The past is just a curious footnote. The future is bright.
It’s like the movie Pleasantville where a middle-aged housewife, who’s led a black and white menial and dull life, turns Technicolor and is ALIVE. No more, “Honey, I’m home. What’s for supper?” She’s now painting beautiful landscapes, AND posing for them…something she’s always wanted to do. In living color, and vibrant.
That’s the life of John Daly. Like St. Andrews, life is full of hills and valleys and 100 foot putts. And tap-in birdies.
All of a sudden the four wives, the golf problems, heavy gambling, nuclear drinking binges…all of life’s shanks and pull hooks…are bathed in a sunbeam that reaches out and touches John Daly…again.
One thing about John, he’s been forgiven more than all the souls at a Baptist Revival in Little Rock. He could be your cousin from Arkansas. In fact, he probably is.
People want John Daly to win. In life, on the golf course, playing guitar, hitting 21 and getting double… or finding the right girl and having blonde-blue-eyed babies for the rest of his and his angel’s life.
For all of his wobbles, John Daily’s done what only 76 men in the history of the world have accomplished. He’s won two Major championships in the World of Golf. He won the British Open in a playoff in 1995 at this very same course. It was his second after breaking in to win the PGA title in 1991, straight from the University of Arkansas with the longest backswing in golf history and not enough knowledge to realize what winning a major meant to him.
Think about it. Two major championships.
Guess who’s looking up at him. Fred Couples. Tommy Bolt. Ken Venturi. Tom Kite. Richard Burton. All with one title, except Richard Burton, who later was reported to have married Elizabeth Taylor. Could have been another Richard Burton, but the name will claim two majors. One, definitely outweighing the other.
John Daly proceeded to approach this beguiling Scottish Beauty at just the right moment and mood on Thursday. These were utopian scoring conditions, and She was ready and willing with dampened fairways, lush and accepting greens and a hint of sunshine. Not a breath of wind. And the galleries wrapping their arms around him. Loving and laughing along with the blond, tow-head from the home of the Hog’s Head. With the crazy pants that matched any shirt he might grab from his closet in the dark.
He went from two under to seven under in six holes. He was leading The Open…at St., Andrews…and life was good. He wobbled a bit at the end by bogeying 17 and missing a birdie putt on 18. But, 66…ain’t bad in this place..at this time of his life.
Being Scotland and the skies ready to pour down rain and bring the wind, it could turn in a moment. But, for four and a half hours in this fantasy, the sun was at his back and a slight moist wind was caressing his face.
Thursdays Are Doris Day. Na, An tie for Brevity. Els in a group at Third.
Thursdays are always a fantastic madhouse in a major golf tournament. The morning boys light it up. Some great stories unfold. The Dalys get hot. Youngsters like Rory McIlroy comes within one shot of a Major’s record of 62. A Scotsman, Andrew Coltart, who was doing the television commentating last year, matches Daly’s 66 and becomes Low Home Boy.
Then the afternoon guys hit the Links. Same thing. Names that are not even known in their own households pick this event to go crazy. Louis Oosthuizen…Marcel Siem, Stephen Tiley, Bradley Dredge. Like Butch Cassiday said to his friend Sundance,when being pursued by unknown lawmen who would not give up… “Who are these guys? Are they pros?”
Media are jumping around, writing running stories. Daly leads British. McIlroy Nears Record. Oosthuizen on the Move. Oosthuizen Identified , Thought Lost as a Child. Oosthuizen Shoots 65, May have Played only 13 Holes. Marcel Siem, Shoots 67, Changes Name to Charleton Heston. Tiger Woods Lurks, Ready to Pounce. Ned Andersson Hed has Typo in His Birth Certificate. Sean O’Hair named after Chicago Airport.
Turns out that Shunsuke Sonoda, is actually named Shunsuke Adonos. His last name was incorrectly spelled backwards in the program. It actually means nose transplant in Spanish.
Marcel Siem ties Bradley Dredge for strangest name in a tight media vote…edging out Fredrik Andersson Hed and Mark F. Haastrup by the slimmest of margins.
Kevin Na ties Byeong-Hun An for shortest last name in the British Open. Ernie Els third in a group of three-letter lastname linksters..
There are so many stories on Thursday. It’s a magic day. Set’s the stage for Cut Day. For Moving Day. For Doris Day. Get’s everyone all hot and bothered, hoping for the time and place and the stars to line up. And a sunbeam to snake its way down through the clouds to shine on them in this enchanting land.
Bob Condron, the US Olympic Committee Director of Media Services, is on the scene at St. Andrews providing stories, notes and thoughts of The Open Championship.