Two-time major champion John Daly brought his unique brand of golf to the Champions circuit for the first time on Friday — and said he was surprised at just how well it went.
The American, whose out-sized personality and mammoth drives have made him a fan favorite, turned 50 on April 28, and made his debut on the PGA Tour Champions series for the 50 and overs at the Insperity Invitational in Woodlands, Texas, near Houston.
Daly’s arrival on the tour was an event. The first 1,000 spectators to arrive at the course received Daly bobblehead dolls, and fans sporting his brightly patterned “Loudmouth” clothing line received prizes.
Daly himself marked the occasion with an outfit of red and turquoise trousers, firing a two-under 70 that left him tied for 12th, four shots behind first-round leader Mike Goodes.
He played alongside Peter Jacobsen and buddy Fuzzy Zoeller — who once vowed to give the famously hard-living Daly $150,000 if he made it to 50 years of age.
Daly said this week he wouldn’t make Zoeller pay up.
Daly said his game was “really solid” admitting he had expected some rust after playing just twice this year.
“I was surprised how good I hit the ball,” Daly said. “I hit a lot of fairways, and that one-iron was a blessing today for me. I mean, even when I didn’t hit it good, it was going in the fairway, and I gave myself a lot of chances.”
He admitted to some “rookie” nerves.
“It was like starting all over,” Daly said. “The nerves were good, but it’s cool coming out here and having positive nerves, and I just fed off Fuzzy and Jake. You know, I couldn’t have asked to play with two better people. For my first round on the Champions Tour, we just had a blast.”