Golf / US Masters: Woosnam and Daly make the long goodbye

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The Independent Online
JOHN DALY and Ian Woosnam said goodbye beside the 18th green at the Augusta National yesterday. A firm handshake, a last smile and then they parted to walk their separate ways into the Georgia sunset. They'd been together now for four long rounds and it doesn't seem a day too much. 'It's the longest relationship I've ever had,' said the twice-married Daly.

Woosnam's wife, Glendryth, watched the parting scene and said: 'John's almost like one of the family. I wouldn't be surprised if he came on holiday with us.'

Amid all this jocularity is Woosnam's request that he should be allowed another partner the next time he and the American are in the same tournament. Before playing every Masters round together, they accompanied each other twice at the Tournament Players' Championship a few weeks ago and shared the fairways at The Open, the US Open and the USPGA. It is estimated that they have played 12 rounds together in the course of the last nine months.

Both express a liking for each other. 'We're both quick players and that suits me. If I had to pick a partner I'd pick Ian,' Daly said.

'I've no objection to playing with him. We get on very well,' Woosnam said. 'But there must be something wrong with a system that keeps throwing us together. Sometimes playing with different partners helps to break up a bad spell.'

Daly and Woosnam have been sharing bad spells as well as each other. It is the exactness of their joint failures that has kept them in partnership. Tournament organisers tend to pair kindred spirits. Daly is often put with the extrovert Fuzzy Zoeller as a crowd-pleasing double-act. Woosnam is not a wisecracker like Zoeller but he has a pugnacious spirit that blends with Daly's.

Once chosen, they remained together for the first two rounds. But if they get the same scores they automatically stay partnered. They both scored a disappointing 76 in the Masters' first round but both rallied with second-round 73s that just squeezed them past the cut.

When Woosnam flopped to a first-nine 40 on Saturday he looked to have broken the partnership, because Daly scored an even-par 36. Then Daly came off the rails on the back nine to score a 41 while Woosnam improved with a 37 that gave them both 77.

So they greeted each other as usual yesterday and each started off with a par, then a birdie and two pars. They were beginning to play like twins. Woosnam broke the sequence with a bogey at the fifth but they grimaced in unison when they both missed easy putts on the 11th and they partnered each other into the water at the 12th.

You had the feeling that if Woosnam gets toothache at his Jersey home this week, Daly will wake up with the pain in Orlando.

For all their disappointments - Woosnam finished at 13 over, Daly 16 over - they chatted happily and swapped complaints about their games. They had plenty of time to talk because they had to wait on nearly every shot.

Up ahead were Sandy Lyle and John Cook and Daly gave them a reminder with a huge drive on the third that travelled 360 yards to the fringe of the green while Cook was putting.

If and when Daly loses Woosnam, one suggestion for a new partner could be Lyle, who has been hitting the ball so far at Augusta he could take Daly on in a driving contest. On Saturday Lyle played the 500-yard 15th with a driver and a wedge, and went through the green.

Perhaps he will get his chance in the Open at Turnberry in July. The good news for Woosnam is that an R & A official here was asked what would happen if his and Daly's names came out of the hat together. 'They'll go straight back in again,' he said.

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