Daly grips and rips but trips up in hot pursuit

John Daly was just one of a succession of hopefuls who flared bravely but briefly on the leaderboard on a hot and breezy afternoon but the prospect of the 1995 Open winner being among the pursuing pack on the closing holes this afternoon started the ripples of renewed excitement among the crocodiles of fans moving on either side on this treacherous ribbon of a course.

His electrifying burst of three birdies on the first three holes raised the curtain on an afternoon that had the leaderboards clattering with dramatic changes. Although he failed to sustain the momentum over 18 holes, Daly rescued his day with a birdie at the 18th that took him round in 70 and put him among a long and still lusty list on six under.

Such is the new volatility of the tournament that an uncommon number of contestants will have woken this morning with a tingle of a chance in their veins. Daly was last night still counting himself in contention, promising: "On this course, maybe I have got a chance if the wind whips up."

He certainly retains a hold on the crowd's imagination that at the very least will make him an exciting trail-blazer, a forerunner of the battles behind him. Despite all his ruthlessly documented problems he remains a figure whose popularity matches the considerable girth that was covered yesterday by a much logoed two-tone blue shirt and there were times when he displayed the power, touch and confidence to give the shake-up a frisson from an unexpected quarter. "I just couldn't make the putts at all in the middle of the round but I am hoping I can still be in touch at the end," he said.

Daly can rely on a rousing welcome wherever he steps on the course but the initial response he received yesterday on the first tee was only a little short of exuberant. When you have been watching nothing else but drives for a couple of hours the prospect of watching the original gripper and ripper in action is bound to excite.

But you could feel, if not hear, the disappointment when he reached past the lion headcover and plucked an iron from his bag. There was to be no burn-bothering this time. Indeed, his tee-shot was fully 35 yards behind that of his playing partner, Stuart Appleby, and over 100 from the pin, but his approach covered the flag all the way and checked back to lie within two feet to give him a birdie start.

It was Daly's penchant for striking his drives to the safe landing places on the left-hand side of most holes that helped him win the championship in 1995, but a fade has been dominating his game. He finds it difficult to draw the ball these days but he is well aware of the troubles a fade can find on the Old Course and confirmed after his first round that he was managing "pretty good".

His followers were encouraged when he reached for his blue-shafted wood on the second tee but after his windmill drive drew the usual gasps from the gallery he watched the flight of the ball anxiously.

There is trouble to be found on the left of the second but there is more on the right and Daly's ball was heading that way. He only just missed the fairway but his ball was nestling in a clump of rough, from which his approach was woefully short. He was four yards shy of the front of the green and more than 30 yards from the pin. His chip looked too strong, but it bounced into the flag-stick and dropped into the hole for a second birdie.

Appleby had been more than slightly overshadowed but he was by no means being out-hit. On the third they both hit left and were level, Daly 20 yards wider.

Appleby approached first and finished 12 feet from the pin but Daly's pitch was deadly accurate once more and again was within two feet. The Australian struck for his first birdie before Daly completed his third and suddenly their gallery thickened.

Wavering fortunes were the pattern throughout yesterday, but Daly struck a run of six straight pars to hold his early challenge steady - although he had to make an excellent save on the fourth to maintain his progress. Once more, the two drives were almost level and this time Daly was the one to have to play first to the blind green.

He listened in vain for the applause that would indicate some success but the reason for the silence was that he had pushed his shot wide of the green on the right. He was almost 40 yards from the pin which was on the bottom of a ridge. Inevitably, his putt rolled 14 feet past the hole and he did very well to hole the return.

Play was slow at this stage and Daly lit up his third cigarette of the round as he waited to play his second on the fifth. He parred that and the next, but then had to watch as Appleby birdied the seventh and eighth holes to join Daly on 33 for the first nine.

Birdies at the 12th and 18th saw Daly finish two shots ahead of Appleby and gain a chance to rock today's applecart even if overturning it is too tall an order.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific