Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
He departed the grounds at The Players Championship a worn, beaten and disappointed man. Struggling on a course where he has struggled before, John Daly signed for 80 and resigned himself to the realization his spirited run at a spot in the Masters had fallen short.
But when Kenny Perry slipped out of second place Sunday, and non-PGA Tour member Padraig Harrington secured second-place earnings of $864,000, it meant only winner Adam Scott would pass Daly on the 2004 money list. Daly’s 10th-place standing ($1,284,206) through TPC was enough to earn him a return to Augusta National, where he last played in 2002.
“I live to play in the Masters, like most of the guys here,” Daly said upon learning Sunday evening that he was in. “I feel like I’m playing well enough right now that maybe I can contend this year. . . I love it there.”
Daly, who played bogey-free golf through 27 holes at TPC, shot 76-80 on the weekend to finish 79th. He could have sewn up a spot at Bay Hill March 21 but finished double bogey-eagle-bogey-triple bogey to slip from third to a tie for 10th. Daly finished third at Augusta in 1993, but has not finished higher than 29th in seven starts since.
Qualifying via the Official World Golf Rankings were four players with victories this year: Craig Parry (Ford Championship winner), Todd Hamilton (Honda winner), Trevor Immelman (South African Airways Open) and Brian Davis (ANZ Championship).
Two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros withdrew because of a bad back. It will be the first time Ballesteros has missed the tournament since he was first invited to play in 1978.