Daly is ranked 122 places below his captain, O'Meara, the world No 4, but the Old Course is perfectly suited to the Wild Thing's grip it and rip it style.
"It is good to be back here," Daly said. "There is something so special about St Andrews, not just because I won the Open here but because of the way the golf course is. I can hit my driver pretty much on all the holes and that makes it fun for me."
Since Daly was last here three years ago, he has beaten a addiction to chocolate, gone through a spell of wild gambling - losing over $2m (pounds 1.2m) in one weekend - fallen off the wagon in spectacular style, but has now not had a drink for 18 months. He suffered a violent attack of the shakes in a tournament in Vancouver in August and has been resting for the last month.
When he played in this event for the first time in 1993, Daly won four of his five matches as America landed the second of their three titles here. "This is my Ryder Cup," Daly said. "I am never going to be on the American Ryder Cup team so this means a lot to me."
Daly's problem with the Ryder Cup is that he does not think he will ever play consistently enough to earn the required points, while he is dubious any captain will pick him as a wild card. "I play at the flags. I'm not a guy who lays up too much. When I'm on, it's good; when I'm not, it's awful."
Just as the course sets up well for Daly, so it does for Woods, who made the cut at the 1995 Open as an amateur. The 22-year-old, making his debut for the US team, has not seen the course in its softer, autumnal mode but is sure to want to put down a marker for when the Open returns to St Andrews in 2000. "Links golf is my favourite style," Woods said. "You have to be so creative around the greens, play bump and runs or fly it in and spin it. You don't find that at home."
While Woods has become a more consistent player under the steadying influence of his friend and mentor, the 41-year-old O'Meara has acquired something of the young phenomenon's killer instinct. Suddenly his CV has been transformed by victories at Augusta and Royal Birkdale.
O'Meara, who was on the winning team two years ago, said: "I think America is very interested in the Dunhill Cup. The players on tour and the public will be watching it closely on the Golf Channel."
While he is at home, O'Meara watches a lot of the early-morning action from Europe. "What you don't realise is that Mark gets up at four o'clock every day," interrupted Woods. Cue Daly: "Four o'clock is when I used to get in."
SEEDINGS AND FIRST-DAY PAIRINGS
Draw for the Alfred Dunhill Cup, St Andrews, 8-11 October (seeded positions in brackets):
Group One: (1) United States, (8) Sweden, England, Japan.
Group Two: (4) Spain, (5) Scotland, Ireland, China.
Group Three: (3) Zimbabwe, (6) South Africa, Germany, France.
Group Four: (2) Australia, (7) New Zealand, Argentina, South Korea.
Winners of each group advance to semi-finals on Sunday: Group One v Group Two, Group Three v Group Four.
Group One: Sweden v Japan
9.30: Patrik Sjoland v Hiroyuki Fujita
9.40: Mathias Gronberg v Nobuo Serizawa
9.50: Per Ulrik Johansson v Katsuma Miyamoto
United States v England
10.0: John Daly v Lee Westwood
10.10: Tiger Woods v David Carter
10.20: Mark O'Meara v Peter Baker
Group Two: Scotland v China
10.30: Gary Orr v Wu Xiang-bing
10.40: Andrew Coltart v Cheng Jun
10.50: Colin Montgomerie v Zhang Lian-wei
Spain v Ireland
11.0: Santiago Luna v Darren Clarke
11.10: Miguel Angel Jimenez v Paul McGinley
11.20: Jose Maria Olazabal v Padraig Harrington
Group 4: New Zealand v South Korea
11.30: Michael Long v Shin Yong-jin
11.40: Frank Nobilo v Kang Wook-soon
11.50: Greg Turner v Kim Jong-duck
Australia v Argentina
12.0: Stuart Appleby v Jose Coceres
12.10: Craig Parry v Angel Cabrera
12.20: Steve Elkington v Eduardo Romero
Group 3: South Africa v France
12.30: Retief Goosen v Olivier Edmond
12.40: David Frost v Thomas Levet
12.50: Ernie Els v Jean Van de Velde
Zimbabwe v Germany
1.0: Tony Johnstone v Sven Struver
1.10: Nick Price v Thomas Gogele
1.20: Mark McNulty v Alex Cejka
Betting odds: 9-4 United States, 9-2 South Africa, 8-1 Australia, 9-1 Ireland, Sweden, 10-1 Scotland, 12-1 Argentina, 14-1 Spain, Zimbabwe, 16-1 Germany, New Zealand, 20-1 England, 66-1 France, 100-1 Japan, 300- 1 Korea, 500-1 China.Reuse content