After Tiger Woods missed the cut at last week’s Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., the inevitable, and tiresome, “He’s back!” “No he’s not!” articles spread like the kudzu that regularly invades the West Virginia landscape, choking trees and threatening power lines. But while Woods’ untimely power outage (he ranked 109th in driving distance at the Greenbrier) sent him to only the ninth MC of his career, golf fans may have wondered about another big hitter who seems to be making a somewhat less-publicized comeback of his own.
That would be John Daly, who, playing last week on a sponsor's exemption, made his fifth cut in six PGA Tour starts this season at The Old White TPC. He finished tied for 12th after firing his best score since 2010 -- a 5-under 65 in Sunday’s finale.
Indeed, the two-time major champion, who finished in a share of 19th place at last month’s St. Jude Classic, moved up 17 spots in the FedExCup standings. At 159th prior to his appearance in this week’s John Deere Classic, the 46-year-old -- just 109 points from being among the top 125 players who will qualify for the so-called playoffs -- was threatening to be a factor in the nearly season-ending contests.
Daly, however, had a more prosaic objective in mind.
"My goal is to get my U.S. card back,” said Daly, who, prior to last week had made only $117,396 on tour this year, after his best finish since a ninth-place tie at last year’s Canadian Open. “I’m looking forward to being 50 [years old] and playing the senior tour. I’m enjoying the European Tour, but the travel is killing my body. I love the guys there, they’re great. It’s a great tour. But it’s tough. If I have to keep doing it, I’ll do it.”
Daly, who finished fourth in a Euro Tour event this year, was pleased with his play heading into the John Deere contest.
“My game's coming around. It was nice to have a good Sunday like this,” he said. “My confidence is better now, ever since I changed my putting grip to a normal grip. I’ve been putting a lot better. I have been hitting the ball well all year. It’s a good confidence booster for me going into John Deere.”
Daly also made news off the course on Sunday when he described a plot he and Woods had hatched to help Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice, whose friendship with Daly began when the two played together in a 2010 pro-am.
“I came up with a plan, I told [Jim] that I would give $100 for every pound he loses to any charity he wants,” Daly said about the 61-year-old, 6'6 Justice, who reportedly weighed in at a touch under 380 pounds. “And Tiger said he’d do it. We care about him. He’s a big guy. If we can get him to lose some weight and add about 30 years, maybe 40 years to his life, he’ll be happy.
“It’s time somebody did something for him,” said Daly, who struggled with his own weight until he lost some 115 pounds after undergoing lap-band surgery in 2009, “instead of him doing something for everybody else all of the time.”