Shackelford: John Daly news on a Tuesday? Tedium now new normal at majors

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Shackelford: John Daly news on a Tuesday? Tedium now new normal at majors

PGA Championship

Shackelford: John Daly news on a Tuesday? Tedium now new normal at majors

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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — It’s come to this: John Daly and his PGA-approved golf cart is the headline maker on PGA Championship Tuesday.

Stop the presses!

Flash from the city!

Read all about it!

Of course, the New York Post ate this one up and slammed Daly. But the tabloids are a bit like Daly in front of a hors d’ouerves table. Discerning, they are not.

Daly’s cart saga may be news for an entirely different and dispiriting reason: practice rounds and early week storylines are going the way of Sansabelt slacks and Daly’s regular tour relevance.

While golfers have never been Ali-like promoters, they are all about about conserving energy early in a major week, leaving the course a virtual ghost town and interviews mostly tepid affairs.

Daly was the subject of a question to Tiger Woods — who mercifully took a nice jab — and again became the first topic with PGA of America brass during their state of the PGA address.

Never mind that Daly won his PGA during George H.W. Bush’s presidency and hasn’t been capable of winning another in two decades. He has little chance of starting, much less finishing 36 holes this week and hasn’t made a cut in this major since 2012.

Also never mind that he was playing the slots instead of rehabbing his body when contacted by the AP last week regarding his successful ADA request. But do mind that this is what constitutes as golf news on Tuesday of the first PGA Championship in May (since 1949).

Worse, for the Long Island fans paying good money to watch golf, there was hardly any practice round golf to watch.

Time may end up telling us that the 48-degree weather put practice rounds on ice and we’ll forget the early week tedium after a grand Sunday conclusion in front of satisfied galleries.

And maybe the PGA of America’s team just sets courses up so well that players have nothing to gripe about. Bless Brooks Koepka for trying  to play up the difficulty of Bethpage, but it all fell a little flat when it was clear he hadn’t set foot on the fairways here since a T70 three years ago.

Sadly, this Tuesday tedium may be the new normal.

Players are increasingly focusing on saving energy by skipping or minimizing practice rounds. They’re choosing their press conference words carefully to avoid unwanted drama — though Woods and Koepka did their part. So we’re mostly left to wonder if a 53-year-old former winner will be able to navigate muddy puddles in his topless buggy.

It’s hard to say who started this accelerating trend of players doing all of their “prep” and “reps” before tournament week. With green books, smarter caddies, wiser instructors and more information than ever to scope out a course, practice rounds just aren’t as necessary. Even their equipment is so dialed in that we don’t get too many stories of players struggling to make a high-profile adjustment. That’s because plenty of rest is required to cope with five-and-a-half hour rounds in an era with the new condensed schedule making players pace themselves.  Led by, you know who, the Masters champion.

“That’s going to be the interesting part going forward; how much do I play and how much do I rest,” Woods said Tuesday. “I think I’ve done a lot of the legwork and the hard work already, trying to find my game over the past year and a half. Now I think it’s just maintaining it. I know that I feel better when I’m fresh.”

Woods did not play a practice round Tuesday while the paying public was here clamoring to see greatness. He was joined by many peers on the range. He will probably play nine holes Wednesday, but it’ll be at first light.

Not that the strategy is a poor one.

Bethpage Black and most major venues will take a lot out of a golfer. But for the fans and curious onlookers, it can leave us with tedious Tuesdays at majors when the rest of the sports world needs to hear reasons to watch beyond John Daly’s cart getting stuck in the mud.

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