Golf: Daly to fire dream team's assault: American bazooka aims to recapture lost accuracy in Dunhill Cup's opening shots

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IT IS the curiosity factor that draws them, just as they would be drawn to a sideshow for freaks at a circus. John Daly may not be the golf equivalent of a bearded lady but it is a close shave. The joke goes that Daly is the man who drives the ball farther than some people go on holidays and today, in the Alfred Dunhill Cup, the Wild Thing tees it up at the culture club, the home of golf.

'It's going to be fun,' Daly said. 'I've heard a lot about St Andrews.' And vice versa, although the course is a few centuries older. Daly is a member of a dream American team here, completed by Fred Couples and Payne Stewart. In terms of being laid back, dream is the word. This may be Daly's first visit to the ancestral seat of the Royal and Ancient, but he is not totally unprepared. He saw the course for the first time in the pro-am yesterday when the wind blew him and his bobble cap about.

'Lee Trevino said this would be the best British golf course for me,' Daly said. 'It would probably be my favourite. He told me I could play off adjacent fairways.' Given the nature of the links this may be just as well for the American bazooka. 'I haven't been playing well,' he said. 'I'm going sideways. I haven't been motivated this year.'

To be fair to the Californian, his life has been in turmoil ever since he freakishly won the US PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana two years ago.

'The lack of motivation,' he said, 'is due to all the other stuff in my life. I have been concentrating on so many things, golf is not the number one priority. I'm trying to get the other stuff taken care of.' He was referring to the usual pitfalls of the overnight sensation: trouble at home, trouble in hotels, trouble on aeroplanes and terrible trouble in the bar.

Last week he withdrew from the Southern Open after nine holes of the second round. 'I didn't hit the green on seven of them,' he said. 'My partners laughed at me.'

The United States team, despite boasting three winners of major championships, are seeded sixth, based on the accumulated rankings of each player in the Sony world order. Zimbabwe, with Nick Price, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone, are seeded one. England, who won the tournament last year with Steven Richardson, David Gilford and Jamie Spence, are seeded five. This time they are represented by Nick Faldo, the world No 1, Mark James and Peter Baker.

The Alfred Dunhill Cup is being played for by 16 teams of three, playing head to head in medal play. The field is divided into four groups of four teams and the round-robin format means that each team within the group plays one another. A victory is worth a point and the group winners go into the semi-finals.

In the final match today the United States (Couples: world ranking sixth, Stewart 10th, Daly 89th) play Wales (Ian Woosnam world ranking seventh, Mark Mouland 379th and Paul Mayo 516th). In the latest betting, the US, England and Zimbabwe are 4-1 joint favourites. Wales are 40-1.

TODAY'S TEE-OFF TIMES (seeded positions in brackets): GROUP 4: Australia (2) v Canada: 9.30 P Senior v R Zokol; 9.40 R Davis v J Rutledge; 9.50 C Parry v D Barr. Sweden (7) v Japan: 10.00 J Parnevik v T Nishikawa; 10.10 J Haeggman v Y Mizumaki; 10.20 A Forsbrand v T Yoneyama. GROUP 2: South Africa (4) v Taiwan: 10.30 F Allem v Chung Chun-hsing; 10.40 E Els v Chen Liang-hsi; 10.50 D Frost v Yuan Ching-chi. England (5) v Mexico: 11.00 P Baker v C Espinoza; 11.10 N Faldo v R Alarcon; 11.20 M James v J Brito. GROUP 1: Zimbabwe (1) v Ireland: 11.40 T Johnstone v R Rafferty; 11.50 M McNulty v P McGinley; 12.00 N Price v D Feherty. Spain (8) v Argentina: 12.10 J M Olazabal v J Coceres; 12.20 M A Jimenez v V Fernandez; 12.30 J Rivero v E Romero. GROUP 3: Scotland (3) v Paraguay: 12.40 S Torrance v C Franco; 12.50 G Brand Jnr v A Franco; 13.00 C Montgomerie v R Fretes. United States (6) v Wales: 13.10 J Daly v M Mouland; 13.20 P Stewart v P Mayo; 13.30 F Couples v I Woosnam.