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SPORTS WEEKEND | GOLF

Daly Finds a Bigger Reward When He Stays the Course

June 19, 1998|Thomas Bonk

SAN FRAN- CISCO — John Daly, meet John Daly. Olympic Club is a short drive from Daly City, which you can get to by taking John Daly Boulevard.

The Daly in this case was a rancher and a dairy farmer who owned the land around here, but Daly the golfer appreciates the name game nonetheless.

"It's pretty cool," said Daly the golfer. "They spelled it right. D-A-L-Y, pretty neat."

Daly the golfer has come a long way since the last U.S. Open at Congressional in Bethesda, Md., where he walked off the course after playing nine holes.

"I don't have the shakes this year like I did then," he said. "I am not craving alcohol badly like I did then. When you play a major, your nerves are already there and then top it off with the shakes . . . if you've never been there, you wouldn't understand.

"I'm very proud of myself for not going to the back nine and basically making an ass out of myself, maybe getting mad or doing something stupid."

Daly was admitted to the Betty Ford Clinic in March 1997 and he said he received about 1,500 letters during his stay. He hasn't opened them.

Daly's first-round 69 is his third-best in nine U.S. Open appearances. Maybe he should credit his new-found patience.

"If I hit it good, I hit it good. If I don't, I don't."

AMATEUR LUCK?

Figure this one out. Matt Kuchar, the 19-year-old U.S. Amateur champion from Georgia Tech, finished with a 70. Playing partners Justin Leonard (the British Open champion) had a 71 and Ernie Els (the defending U.S. Open champion) had a 75.

If Kuchar collected any bets with Leonard and Els, does that mean he has turned pro?

FAMILY FACT

Does this make sense? Kirk Triplett is the father of twins.

SHARK UPDATE

There are many big names at the U.S. Open this week, but Greg Norman isn't one of them. Norman was in Livermore, about 65 miles east of the Bay Area, this week to open The Course At Wente Vineyard, which is a Norman signature design.

Norman had surgery April 22 for a rotator cuff problem and although his arm is no longer in a sling, he cannot swing a club for another six or eight weeks. That means Norman is missing only his second U.S. Open since 1983 and he's not very happy about it.

"I hadn't really thought about it, then I turned on the TV and saw some of the guys being interviewed. I got a little down about it, started thinking, 'I should be out there and I'm not.' It kind of ticked me off."

Norman's shoulder is judged to be about 50% healthy. He's still expecting to be back on the course in time for the Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout, Nov. 9.

Until then, Norman said he isn't thinking very much about golf, mostly for self-preservation.

"What I've had to do is shut my mind off from golf. I don't think about it, read about it or watch it. I don't go into my golf room, I don't mess with my clubs, anything.

"If I did, I would put myself in position to have some sort of psychological problem."

RYDER CUP UPDATE

Ben Crenshaw was named the U.S. Ryder Cup captain months ago, but the successor to Seve Ballesteros for Europe's team has not been chosen. The top three candidates are Mark James, Ian Woosnam and Sam Torrance.

There really isn't any rush--it doesn't have to be done until mid-September--but chances are the captain will be named soon. James has been most often mentioned as the likely candidate, although Woosnam has picked up some vocal support from a very important figure: Nick Faldo.

IS IT A SIGN OR WHAT?

Before the U.S. Open, the player with the best scoring average on the PGA Tour this year is not Tiger Woods, David Duval, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples or Mark O'Meara. It's Tom Watson (69.56).

OR A SPRINKLER HEAD

Duval is gaining a reputation as a great player and a poor quote. If he went any more out of his way to be, well, dull, he'd be lost.

Duval's dullness has been noticed by C.W. Nevius of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Said Nevius: "David Duval has the charisma of a divot."

AMY STILL AIMING

She has been stuck on 29 for seven years, but Amy Alcott isn't one to give up looking for a 30th tournament victory, which would put her in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Alcott shot 70 at Mission Viejo Country Club and was the low qualifier to play her way into the U.S. Women's Open, July 2-5 at Blackwolf Run golf course in Kohler, Wis.

THAT'S MONTY

Colin Montgomerie was asked about nearly winning the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, the 1995 PGA at Riviera and the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional.

Question: "Why did you do so well in those majors?"

Montgomerie: "Well, I am quite good."

THAT'S JUSTIN

Ever since Brad Faxon said Leonard was so fastidious that he vacuumed in straight lines and arranged his shirts by color, Leonard has been associated with extreme tidiness. But Leonard denies he has a tidiness fetish.

"I wouldn't say it's a fetish. I think people have fetishes about cheese and chocolate. It's just that I am a pretty organized person. I just like knowing where my stuff is."

LONG DISTANCE

O'Meara is using a titanium driver on tour and in friendly games with Orlando neighbor Woods.

Said O'Meara: "Unfortunately, Tiger still drives it 80 yards by me."

STREAKER IN REVERSE

Here's a streak of bad luck. Joel Kribel birdied No. 8 on Thursday, then went on this stretch: double bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey. He finished with an 83.

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