The field at the European Tour’s D+D Real Czech Masters is a hodgepodge of sorts. There are a smattering of veterans who didn’t qualify for the US PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs (Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington) and a handful of players trying to improve their chances at making Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup squad (Thomas Pieters, Eddie Pepperell), but the lion’s share of those teeing it up are rank-and-file golfers simply trying to play well enough to avoid having tour Q-School.
Oh, and then there’s the lion himself. Yep, John Daly is competing.
And competing well, we might add. The 52-year-old finished Thursday’s first round tied for the lead after posting a bogey-free 64 – his lowest round on tour since he shot a 62 in the final round of the 2009 UBS Hong Kong Open.
Joining Daly in first through 18 holes at Albatross Golf Resort in Prague are Pieters, Gavin Green and Callum Tarren.
The last time Daly played in a non-Major European Tour event was this time last year when he played in the Made in Denmark tournament and then the Czech Masters (their order is reversed this year). He missed the cut after rounds of 74-73 at the latter, but in Denmark he opened with a 67, shot a third-round 65 and finished T-10, his best showing on the tour since 2012.
A week ago, Daly played at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on the PGA Tour Champions, shooting a 73-77 before withdrawing prior to the final round on Sunday in upstate New York. It was the fourth senior event that he has WD’d mid-tournament this season (out of 11 official starts), a year in which he suffered a knee injury after being in an accident in which a car hit the RV he was in selling merchandise during Masters week in Augusta. Daly also withdrew before even hitting a shot at the US Senior Open, upset that his request to ride in a golf cart had been denied. (And he withdrew from the Open Championship at Carnoustie as well.)
“It’s been one of those years where I’ve been hitting it really good, I’ve just been injured and having to pull out,” said Daly, who does also have three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour Champions in 2018. “I don’t feel great but I got around today and I just played solid golf and it’s great.”
Where we’re going with this is that despite being in first place through 18 holes, there’s a chance Daly might not even still be playing by Sunday. So it’s important to savour shots like this one while you can:
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) August 23, 2018