• Valspar Championship

Daly shoots a 90 at Palm Harbor

ESPN staff
March 14, 2014
John Daly says having the 'yips' has seriously affected his putting © AP

John Daly has gone 17 straight years on the PGA Tour with at least one round in the 80s. He didn't even manage that on Friday in the Valspar Championship, missing a four-foot putt on his last hole at Innisbrook for a career-high 90.

"I didn't give up," Daly said. "I tried."

He used up 12 of those shots on the par-4 16th hole - tied for his fourth-highest score on any one hole - but was more concerned with the putting yips. Daly said the yips began on Sunday in Puerto Rico and reached a low point at Innisbrook.

Garrigus leads by three

Robert Garrigus blasts out of a bunker in the second round © AP
  • Robert Garrigus shot a 5-under 66 to establish a three-shot lead going into the final two rounds of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook - before putting it all down to fishing.
  • Garrigus spent most of the practice days fishing in the lakes of Innisbrook, catching nearly three dozen bass.
  • His only other PGA Tour victory was a little more than an hour away in Florida at Disney, and Garrigus offered a simple explanation. "It's the fishing," he said.
  • Garrigus didn't play a single practice round the year he won Disney. He arrived at Innisbrook on Monday and fished that evening, most of Tuesday and then for about five hours Wednesday without ever looking at the Copperhead course.
  • "I think that puts me in a good frame of mind because I'm clear and not thinking about anything, just going out and having some fun," he said.
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He took 70 putts over two days, including a four-putt on the second hole of Friday's second round.

"You're going to have big scores on holes," Daly said. "That's just the way golf is. But when you've got the yips, that's no fun."

For Daly, there was nothing fun about Friday, especially the 16th hole.

He started with a tee shot into the water. He had about 270 yards to carry the lake after his penalty drop and failed twice. From there, he hit a smother-hook well to the left of the water, only to hit what he described as a shank with his 7-iron well right of the green. He took three chips to reach the green and one-putted for a 12.

Daly's highest score ever was an 18 on the sixth hole in the 1998 Bay Hill Invitational. This wasn't anything like that. For one thing, he hit only three balls into the water.

"I got two good drops and hit a heel-cut 3-wood into the water," he said. "Then I shanked a 7-iron, chili-dipped a chip, it was buried, didn't get that out. ... It was a good 12. I got up-and-down for 12."

It was the 16th time on the PGA Tour that Daly has made at least a 10 on a hole. Friday was the one-year anniversary of his most recent one, when he took a 10 on the third hole after twice hitting a tree while trying to get out of the woods.

On the PGA Tour alone, he now has 62 rounds of 80 or higher.

Daly said he needed to find help with the yips after what already has been a bad week. The 47-year-old with two major wins said he was treated for plantar fasciitis in his left heel Wednesday and he was walking with a slight limp toward the parking lot.

"I'm falling apart," he said.

The putting is what unnerved him. Daly had some of the softest hands in golf when he won the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open at St Andrews. But his putting stroke, even more than elbow surgery last year, has hurt him. His last good chance to win a tournament was the 2005 American Express Championship at Harding Park, where he three-putted from 15 feet in a play-off against Tiger Woods.

"It's my head, my hands, and I can't stop it," Daly said. "On a short stroke, I get quick. On my normal, long stroke, I come up. Even my legs are moving. I should just go put myself in a straitjacket and try that. I've always been a quick putter, so I should never get the yips. But I got 'em. I got 'em bad.

Daly, who has been playing on sponsor exemptions the past eight years, was not sure where he would play next. He said he was supposed to play in Indonesia in a few weeks for the start of the OneAsia circuit, but the missing Malaysian Airlines flight shook him up.

"I was going to Indonesia, but since they can't find a 777," he said, shaking his head as his voice trailed off. "I ain't about to fly on a plane right now. It's a sick feeling. I'd have to go right there. I cancelled it. I said, 'No way I'm getting on a plane to fly overseas.' A 777? One of the nicest planes in existence?

"It's scary. There are more important things in life than a round of golf. I'm scared to fly. Our world, it's scary what's going on. [Buildings] blowing up in New York. A guy running over people in Austin, Texas? What the hell is going on? It's frightening."

In his eyes, a 90 didn't seem so bad.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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