Talk about a storyline out of the blue. Everyone expected a shootout between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, with Phil Mickelson close behind. Instead, a blast from the past gave the PGA Tour a much-needed rooting alternative for the weeks Tiger is off the circuit.
John Daly is either very good or very bad, but people have always gravitated toward the big guy. Daly is the golfer for "the everyman." It had been nine years since Daly last tasted victory, but the big man was sensational in capturing a one-hole playoff over former UNLV standout Chris Riley.
The victory moved Daly down from 100-1 odds in Vegas last week to 60-1 for the L.A. Nissan Open at famed Riviera Country Club.
Maybe Daly has finally grown up and can harness the skills that won two major championship in the 1990s, including the ’95 British Open at legendary St. Andrews. Daly founded the "grip it and rip it" approach to golf that made him a cult hero when emerging from total unknown to PGA champion at Crooked Stick.
Daly is known more from his walks off the golf course and into rehab centers than into the winners circle, but he does have an uncanny knack for coming through in his infrequent appearances at the top of the leaderboard.
While Tiger draws enormous fan appeal for his game, Daly is just as popular for just being himself. He drinks, smokes, plays guitar in a country band, gone through several divorces and has behaved inappropriately in airports. Yet, his boyish charm has kept the cult of followers in his corner the whole rocky way. The roars when he won Sunday at Torrey Pines may have brought him back to one of the PGA posterboys.
So, now Daly becomes part of the storyline for Riviera this week. Tiger and Vijay are playing Riviera, but Mickelson is taking a week off. At 3-1, those odds are higher than Tiger has seen in several years. This could be a good time to jump on Woods, who has to be seething a bit at being out of the spotlight last week when Daly was charging.
There are some other interesting plays this week. Look for Fred Couples (40-1) to emerge as a threat. Freddie loves the Riviera layout, and like Daly, would be a very popular champion should he pull off the upset.
Tiger over Phil? Not, so fast
Handicapper Ron "The Bounty" Hunter relayed this story to me concerning touts.
"A tout came to me from nearby and said”¦"Put your big bucks on Tiger Woods this week!
"Oh yeah," Hunter replied. "Why?"
To which the tout explained, "Listen, I know somebody who knows somebody who knows Tiger”¦ and he’s ticked off about all the publicity Vijay Singh is getting. So he (Tiger) is going to show the world who drives a Buick this weekend."
So, Hunter came out with Tiger at —160 against Phil Mickelson. "Jump on it before it goes any higher. But only on Tiger defeating Phil."
Too bad for Tiger backers that Vijay wasn’t included. Singh missed the cut, ending his streak of 12 straight Top 10 finishes.
Meanwhile Phil birdied the final two holes in the second round to make the cut, then shot up the leaderboard to edge Woods by a shot at 9-under par.
Stableford sinks LauraThe women vs men theme is starting to get old, but big Laura Davies decided to try and test the waters in Australia.
The event, similar to the Castle Pines stop on the PGA Tour, uses the Stableford system that awards points instead of strokes.
Well, Davies finished a woeful 154th through 36 holes or 40 shots off the lead.
Fortunately, there was no action in Vegas books. The wiseguys would probably have cleaned up.