John Daly and his bum right knee rode away from the PGA Championship happy to get the chance to play, even with the aid of a cart that caused some controversy.
Daly shot a 6-over 76 on Friday and finished 36 holes at Bethpage Black at 11 over, a score that will miss the cut for the weekend.
The results were not surprising, considering the 53-year-old Daly has been playing in the PGA Tour Champions, a 50-and-older circuit that allows for carts, since 2016, winning once in 2017. He has not won on the PGA Tour since capturing the 2004 Buick Open.
The decision by the PGA of America to allow Daly to use a cart in this event because of his arthritic right knee has been an issue for many.
But the fans loved seeing the cigarette-smoking, long-hitting Daly, who looks more like an average weekend golfer than a pro.
“I was happy I played,” Daly said after the round. “I played good. It’s a major championship. If you miss a fairway here and there by just a little bit, you are going to score bad and I did.”
The worst might have been the bogey on the 18th, his final hole. His drive found a bunker. His second shot found another bunker and his third found a greenside bunker.
After the second shot, he drove to his bag as the caddie manicured the sand, grabbed a club and slammed the bag down.
Daly drove to the greenside bunker, hit the sand wedge to within 2 feet and knocked it in for a bogey.
The crowd roared.
It was a perfect ending to a performance that was anything but.
Daly said he felt obligated to play in the PGA Championship, the tournament that made him a fan favorite after he won at Crooked Stick in 1991 at the ninth alternate. He added a second major, capturing the British Open in 1995.
“This is a week I can’t leave disgusted because I played good golf,” Daly said. “It played long and you just miss fairways by a little bit, the rough is so thick; probably the thickest I have ever seen, you are just laying up. I’m not strong enough to get it anywhere near.”
Daly, who visibly limped when he walked on the course, added that he just couldn’t get his putts to the hole.
When someone noted he had two birdies on Friday, he quipped, “At least I finally made a few.”
Daly is the first player to ride in a cart at a major since Casey Martin in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in 1998 and 2012.
He also has asked for an exemption for the British Open and is awaiting a response.