Daly's one-man show leaves followers on a high

It seemed appropriate that John Daly, whose past or present addictions include alcohol, gambling, cheeseburgers, chocolate and peroxide Southern belles, should be the star performer yesterday on a hole called "High". High is the name of the 11th hole on the Old Course. It is a fiendishly tricky par three at the furthest extremity of the course, protected by the ferocious Strath Bunker rather as Cerberus guarded Hades. And if the wind is swirling in from the Eden Estuary, as it was in warm sunshine yesterday, High becomes even harder. Colin Montgomerie was one of many top players humbled there, failing to get anywhere near the green with his first two efforts, and leaving the third at least 30 yards from the flag. The fact that Monty then sauntered off, wreathed in smiles, signified that this was merely a dress rehearsal before today's main event.

It seemed appropriate that John Daly, whose past or present addictions include alcohol, gambling, cheeseburgers, chocolate and peroxide Southern belles, should be the star performer yesterday on a hole called "High". High is the name of the 11th hole on the Old Course. It is a fiendishly tricky par three at the furthest extremity of the course, protected by the ferocious Strath Bunker rather as Cerberus guarded Hades. And if the wind is swirling in from the Eden Estuary, as it was in warm sunshine yesterday, High becomes even harder. Colin Montgomerie was one of many top players humbled there, failing to get anywhere near the green with his first two efforts, and leaving the third at least 30 yards from the flag. The fact that Monty then sauntered off, wreathed in smiles, signified that this was merely a dress rehearsal before today's main event.

And just to reinforce the point, Daly then stepped up, having already amazed and delighted the crowd by holing a series of 25-foot putts on the 10th green using only his left hand. Even his playing partner, a portly fellow by the name of Nicklaus, was impressed. The great man, wearing a garish turquoise shirt that could just about be excused on the grounds that he is profoundly colour blind, picked up Daly's putter and scrutinised it. But Daly - "Wild Thing" to his fans, "grip it and rip it" the exhortation on his bag - had only just started showing off. On the 11th he teed off with his putter - his putter! - and smacked the ball 180 yards through the green. It moved slightly left to right as it fizzed through the air. "Darn!" He exclaimed. "Ah cut it!"

Sporting Index is quoting Daly at 5-1 to record a 13 or worse on any hole at this Championship, following his downfall in the US Open at Pebble Beach, where he sat on the self-destruct button once again and took 14 strokes to complete the 18th hole. But the smarter money might back the occasionally troubled, always charismatic Tennesseean to actually to win the thing. After all, he already has a St Andrews Open under his generous belt, and his game - enormous power and the touch of an angel around the greens - could hardly be more suited to the Old Course.

Whatever happens, the scorching favourite Tiger Woods will surely not have it all his own way. I followed the Masters champion, Vijay Singh, in practice yesterday, and he, too, looked in wonderful form, although the Scottish hacks following him were more interested in the revelation that he once worked as a bouncer at a dodgy night-club in Edinburgh. Apparently, having failed to qualify for the 1987 Open at Muirfield, Vijay stuck around in Edinburgh and was given a job ejecting unwanted punters from the Amphitheatre on Lothian Road, an establishment spirit-ually about as far from the Augusta National as any you care to imagine.

Then there was Lee Westwood, the pick of a juicy four-ball also comprising Ernie Els, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam. These are not men, with the exception, perhaps, of Els, who can be described with a straight face as professional athletes. Indeed, on the fifth tee the less-than-svelte Westwood demolished a hamburger in roughly 30 seconds, much to the amusement of Torrance. "Don't think that we can't see you," said Torrance as Westwood crouched down behind his bag. "I don't care," said Westwood. "Just slap me if you see me eating a banana."

The spectators duly howled with laughter. For a moment, Torrance and Westwood became the heirs to Abbott and Costello. Comedy-wise, golf fans are not a discerning bunch.

Still, you couldn't blame anyone yesterday for having a smile on their face and a spring in their step. The sun sparkled on St Andrews Bay and the "auld grey toon" has never looked less grey. On the course and off, there was a lively carnival atmosphere. It even permeated Tesco's in Market Street, where a rotund American seemed so glad to be alive that he reached over and pumped the hand of the lad behind the till. "What's your name, son?" "Paul," said the bemused youngster. "Well, it's real nahce knowing you, Poll, real nahce."

The 11th tee, though, was the place to be. A succession of legends played gamely to the gallery, notably Gary Player, who knocked a five-wood stone dead and then simulated the walk of a bent old man, using his club as a walking stick. Tom Watson followed soon afterwards, and conducted the applause as his tee shot rolled inexorably down from the back of the green to within a few feet of the hole. Watson was playing with the inscrutable David Duval, and there was a significant moment when a young boy scampered under the ropes and ran up to Duval, waving an autograph book. The five-times Open champion Watson, who was standing next to Duval, was roundly ignored. Reputations count for nothing when you're eight years old. And they won't mean a great deal today, either, when the 129th Open begins in earnest.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee