For 10 years now, six successive American Ryder Cup captains have overlooked the charms of John Daly as a wild-card pick. On two of those occasions he was even a reigning major champion but it has mattered not a jot. Perhaps he should be searching his Arkansas background for a Scottish or Bavarian grandparent.
At Loch Lomond in July, Daly finished third for his best result since winning the Open in 1995. At the BMW International this week he cannot force his way into Sam Torrance's wild-card thinking but he can still do a spoiling job for the US skipper Curtis Strange.
After holing in one at the 12th hole, his third, Daly equalled his lowest ever score of 63, a stroke outside the Nord Eichenreid course record. His nine-under mark was later matched by the Australian left-hander Richard Green, while Dean Robertson, the last player on the standings who can mathematically qualify for the Ryder Cup team, had a 64.
Daly had his eye on the sponsor's car on offer for holing in one at the 17th. The usual consolation for achieving an ace at another par-three is a magnum of champagne. This would be wasted on Daly, an alcoholic who has not had a drink for a year. The bubbly would not be Daly's choice of poison in any case.
"I had some when I was 14 at my sister's wedding and I can't stand the shit," Daly said. "I said I'd never drink it again after I woke up with the worst headache of my life but then I was sneaking out all the booze that night."
This has been a relatively quiet season for Daly – a good thing given his past – but his whirlwind lifestyle saw him marry for the fourth time a month ago in Las Vegas. "After the first time I met Sherrie, I told the guy who introduced us I was going to marry her and seven weeks later I did. It was one of those love-at-first-sight relationships. We have a lot of fun and are great friends."
So saying, they wandered off to look for some cuckoo clocks. Daly's nine-iron at the 153-yard 12th pitched a foot past the cup and spun back in. "That really got my juices going," he said. "It would be nice to win again. I like my start."
Daly had been bemoaning his putting coming into the event, but on a relatively short course, he was able to attack the pins with only a wedge in his hands most of the time. "It wasn't one of those rounds where you hole a lot of 30-footers. I hit a lot of good iron shots and had a lot of gimme putts."
Robertson, on the other hand, holed his share from 25 to 30 feet and only dropped one shot. The 31-year-old Scot is 23rd on the Ryder Cup list and needs to win to stand any chance of getting in automatically. He will need some assistance from those ahead of him and the two main players "on the bubble" obliged yesterday.
Both Phillip Price, the man in 10th place, and Ian Poulter, in 11th, were tired and jetlagged after flying back from America at the start of the week and struggled to keep up with the fast pace around them. Price birdied the last to finish on 71, with a chance today of making the cut which will inevitably fall well under par, but Poulter slipped to a 73.
While Price, who is going greyer by the round, and Poulter are all too aware of the significance of every shot they hit, Robertson, remarkably, had no idea until after his round that he still retains a chance of making the team. Hit by food poisoning at the Dutch Open, the last month has not been a productive one for him.
"I've been slipping down the list fast because I haven't been accumulating points," he said. "So I haven't been looking at it because I don't want to be upset. Some players like to know exactly where they stand in various tables but the Ryder Cup was the furthest thing from my mind today. I am just trying to compete to win and then everything else will take care of itself."
Among those on 67 were Bernhard Langer, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Andrew Oldcorn and Sergio Garcia. Refreshed after a week at home in Spain, Garcia played exceedingly well from tee-to-green but missed eight putts from inside 10 feet.
Scores from Munich
BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN (Munich) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 63 J Daly (US), R Green (Aus). 64 D Robertson. 65 T Bjorn (Den), S Kjeldsen (Den). 66 T Johnstone (Zim), R Wessels (SA), C Pettersson (Swe), J Lomas. 67 S Gallacher, R Gonzalez (Arg), S Garcia (Sp), N Fasth (Swe), A Oldcorn, J Rose, M Farry (Fr), A Scott (Aus), J Haeggman (Swe), J Bickerton, MA Jimenez (Sp), B Langer (Ger), J Rystrom (Swe). 68 P Mitchell, A Forsyth, R Jacquelin (Fr), I Garrido (Sp), B Davis, J Senden (Aus), M Mouland, G Orr, R Russell, G Havret (Fr), B Rumford (Aus), R Goosen (SA), F Jacobson (Swe), S Hansen (Den), D Park. 69 G Owen, D Carter, F Andersson (Swe), B Lane, I Woosnam, P Fulke (Swe), P Casey, J Berendt (Arg), W Bennett, S Lyle, S Dodd, D Borrego (Sp), W Riley (Aus), E Boult (NZ), H Nystrom (Swe), P Hanson (Swe), G Turner (NZ), F Cea (Sp), J Moseley (Aus), A Coltart, W Huget (Ger), A Cejka (Ger), C Montgomerie, P Harrington, J Sandelin (Swe), T Munoz (Sp), P Fowler, A Raitt, A Hansen (Den) (Aus). Selected: 70 T Levet (Fr), P Lawrie, JM Olazabal (Sp), R Karlsson (Swe), P McGinley. 71 P Price. 73 I Poulter. 74 M Gronberg (Swe).Reuse content