Daly fails to qualify for U.S. Open
Monday, June 8, 2009
GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – John Daly makes his return to the PGA Tour this week.
His return to the U.S. Open will have to wait at least another year.
In his first time competing in America since the PGA Tour lifted his six-month suspension, Daly managed only four birdies over 36 holes of a U.S. Open qualifier Monday. He shot 1-over 143 and didn’t come close to getting one of 13 spots available in Tennessee.
“My feet are tired,” Daly said after politely declining an interview with a Memphis TV station.
Daly was awarded a sponsor’s exemption for the St. Jude Classic, which starts Thursday, and he took one positive out of two mediocre rounds at Ridgewood (70) and Germantown (73). At least it helped him make the transition from playing in Europe.
“Being over there for five weeks, the greens are so much slower there and I wasn’t used to the speed,” he said later. “I haven’t putted on Bermuda greens in a long time. Boy, talk about not even sniffing a putt.”
He’ll have to change his clothes when he gets back on the PGA Tour, though.
One of the charms of U.S. Open qualifying is that all players are allowed to wear shorts. Daly stood out on this steamy day, wearing knee-length shorts with a blue-and-white checkered pattern. But he looked slimmer than he has in years after a stomach surgery in February that limits his appetite. Daly said he weighed 218 pounds when he checked on Sunday.
Daly attracted a crowd of nearly 300 people, who followed him down the fairway, waiting for something to cheer. There were no big numbers, except for a double bogey when his tee shot sliced onto the road, and there were not enough birdies.
The tour suspended Daly for a series of off-course incidents that led to the wrong kind of publicity, particularly a photo of Daly from a North Carolina jail after he spent the night to get sober.
The U.S. Open will be held June 18-21 at Bethpage Black, a public course in New York where Tiger Woods was the only player to break park when the U.S. Open was held there seven years ago. Daly finished 27 shots behind, including one round in the 80s, and he wanted desperately to get back.
“That’s the only reason I did this,” Daly said. “I love Bethpage. It’s the ultimate major course. It’s fair. It’s so hard, they really can’t make it any harder.”
So many others are vying for a chance to take it on in 36-hole qualifying across the country.
Most of the PGA Tour players were either in Tennessee or Ohio, where they stayed behind after the Memorial. Some didn’t make it to the first tee. Jerry Kelly withdrew in Ohio, while Scott Verplank and Steve Elkington were among those who pulled out in Memphis.
Michael Letzig, who played with Tiger Woods in the final round at the Memorial and had a front-row seat to Woods’ victory, could not get a flight to Memphis in time and had to withdraw the qualifier.