Golf: Dour Daly is dogged by mean greens

US Open: Double major winner feels the pain of pin placings after seven-over-par 11 at eighth hole curtails challenge
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The Independent Online
JOHN DALY'S uncanny knack of coming across triumph and disaster within 72 holes of a tournament caught up with golf's Wild Thing again yesterday in the final round of the 99th US Open. The former Open and USPGA champion took an 11, seven over par, at the eighth hole and threatened to boycott the championship in future in protest at the way the US Golf Association run the tournament.

"All credit to whoever wins, but I don't consider the US Open a major any more," Daly, who shot an 83 to be 29 over par, said. "The USGA try to embarrass the players. From now on, my majors are the British Open, the USPGA, the Masters and the Tour Championship. I don't know if I want to waste my time going to Pebble Beach next year. I don't want to see the USGA spoil that course as well."

Daly had been leading the championship on Thursday when he birdied the first three holes. Yesterday he was back making news at a time when those at the top of the leaderboard, on which Payne Stewart led by one from Phil Mickelson with a round to play, had not even arrived at the course.

Pinehurst No 2 has provided one of the sternest challenges in championship history even without the help of a howling gale. Although the venue and the general set-up of the course earned praise from the players, criticism grew over the weekend at too many pin locations being too near the edges of greens that resemble upturned saucers.

Even when chipping from off the greens, Colin Montgomerie said, players needed to aim away from the pins and try to find a place from where they could two-putt. Precision has been the keyword but that is something not in Daly's vocabulary. He had already taken a triple-bogey at the par- three sixth when he arrived at the eighth 20 over for the tournament.

At the par-four which played as the hardest hole on Saturday, Daly went through the back of the green with his approach shot. Putting up the bank on to the green, the ball came back to his feet and he attempted the shot again. When the ball started to roll back again, Daly marched up the bank and hit the ball on the walk, sending if off the front of the green.

With a two-shot penalty for playing a moving ball, Daly was now playing eight when he chipped 20 feet short of the hole. He then three-putted - the only putts that count on the official statistics - missing a come- backer from 10 feet.

"I shot a wedge from 147 yards and just pured it," Daly said of his approach. "To see it trickle off the back of the green was so frustrating.

"After the first putt came back off the green, I said to my caddie if it happened again I was just going to take the two-shot penalty and get out of there. I played the back nine in two over so I'm actually quite happy. I've hit the ball great this week. Yesterday, I hit a lot of great shots and had an 81. I could take an 81 if I knew I had played badly. The US Open is just not John Daly's style of golf."

Daly, infamous for his gambling and drinking exploits, has always been as capable of scoring in the 80s as in the 60s. Last year at Bay Hill he had an 18 when he put five balls in a lake and he had at least a 10 - no one is quite sure how many - when he took several hacks in a fairway bunker at the last at Royal Birkdale to miss the cut in last year's Open. At the beginning of the month, Daly six-putted the last green at the Memorial before withdrawing after the first round.

In its defence, the USGA only had to look at the leaderboard to show how its championship had separated the best players. Stewart, who was the only player to start the final round under par, is a former champion and twice runner-up. No one has more wins on the US tour than Mickelson without winning a major, while David Duval, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, three of the top-four players on the world rankings, also set off in the final groups.

Steve Stricker was the only player to break par with a 69, while Miguel Angel Jimenez moved up to 10th at five over with a 72. Darren Clarke had a 74 to be seven over and Montgomerie the same score to be eight over. "This is borderline on the old toughness bit," Montgomerie said. "I hope we don't come back for 30 years."

When told the US Open may come back to Pinehurst in 2004, Monty replied: "Oh, well, I'll be 41, I might be retired by then." In fact, although it has not been announced, Shinnecock Hills on Long Island has been earmarked for that year, and it is more likely Pinehurst will play host again in 2007 or 2008. "It's no stretch to say everything we've seen this week has been an unqualified success," said David Fay, executive director of the USGA.

"I haven't heard anyone ask if we will be coming back but when. All Pinehurst has to do after this Open is say: `We rest our case'.

"We don't have a home of golf like St Andrews but there's no question, there may be others who want that crown, but the closest thing we have to the feel you get in that small town in Fife is Pinehurst, North Carolina. That's a factor that can't be overlooked."

UNITED STATES OPEN (Pinehurst No 2, North Carolina) (US unless stated, *denotes amateur) Latest final round scores: 296 G Hjertstedt (Swe) 75 72 79 70; 300 G Kraft 70 73 82 75; 301 J Kelly 73 74 79 75; 302 T Kite 74 72 80 76; 303 B Tway 69 77 79 78; 304 L Mize 69 75 84 76; 306 *H Kuehne 72 75 81 78; 308 B Burns 71 76 84 77, T Tryba 72 75 82 79; 309 J Daly 68 77 81 83.

COMPLETE THIRD ROUND SCORES

209: P Stewart 68 69 72.

210: P Mickelson 67 70 73.

211: T Herron 69 72 70; T Woods 68 71 72.

212: S Stricker 70 73 69; V Singh (Fiji) 69 70 73; D Duval 67 70 75.

213: B Mayfair 67 72 74.

214: J Maggert 71 69 74.

215: M A Jimenez (Sp) 73 70 72; P Goydos 67 74 74; J Huston 71 69 75; H Sutton 69 70 76.

217: S Verplank 72 73 72; J Leonard 69 75 73; D Clarke (GB) 73 70 74; DA Weibring 69 74 74; D Love 70 73 74; R Mediate 69 72 76.

218: C Montgomerie (GB) 72 72 74; T Scherrer 72 72 74; J Parnevik (Swe) 71 71 77; E Toledo (Mex) 70 72 76; B Estes 70 71 77.

219: J Haas 74 72 73; C Franco (Par) 69 77 73; P Azinger 72 72 75; N Price (Zim) 71 74 74; P Price 71 73 75; G Sisk 71 72 76; B Watts 69 73 79; J Furyk 69 73 77.

220: T Lehman 73 74 73; S Pate 70 75 75; S McRoy 70 74 76; K Yokoo (Japan) 68 74 78.

221: B Chamblee 73 74 74.; J Tyska 72 74 75; C Tidland 71 75 75; G Hallberg 74 72 75; D Berganio 68 77 76; C Perry 72 74 75; S Struver (Ger) 70 76 75; J Carter 73 70 78; C Parry (Aus) 69 73 79.

222: L Mattiace 72 75 75; R Allenby (Aus) 74 72 76; D Hart 73 73 76; T Watson 75 70 77; S Allan (Aus) 71 74 77; D Lebeck 74 70 78; B Fabel 69 75 78; S Elkington (Aus) 71 72 79.

223: L Janzen 74 73 76; C Smith 69 77 77; C Pavin 74 71 78.

224: J Cook 74 73 77; S Cink 72 74 78.

225: B Tway 69 77 79; G Kraft 70 73 82.

226: G Hjertstedt (Swe) 75 72 79; J Kelly 73 74 79; T Kite 74 72 80; J Daly 68 77 81.

228: *H Kuehne 72 75 81; L Mize 69 75 84.

229: T Tryba 72 75 82.; 231: B Burns 71 76 84.

US unless stated

*denotes amateur

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