ORLANDO, Fla. – All signs, and particularly the numbers, pointed to another meltdown by John Daly.
He hit three balls into the water on the 16th hole at Innisbrook and made a 12, still only the fourth-highest score he has made on any one hole on the PGA Tour. And when he missed a 4-foot bogey putt on the last hole, he signed for a 90. Daly has had at least one round at 80 or higher every year since 1996.
So what was it like to be in the middle of this? Not a problem for Padraig Harrington.
"He was perfectly fine to play with – very respectful, no issues at all in terms of golf," Harrington said.
Daly opened with a 74 in the Valspar Championship, and his second round got off to a rocky start with a four-putt double bogey on the second hole.
"He came out pressing – as we all did – on Friday," Harrington said. "But he was very respectful to play with. He was useful out there. He was trying in terms of lines and getting clubs and things like that. You could see what he was doing. It wasn't like I wouldn't prefer him to be there."
As for his big number? Daly referred to as a "good up-and-down for 12."
"I didn't actually see most of the 16th. I was in the toilet when he was hitting it," Harrington said. "But he didn't walk in. He didn't stop trying. He tried to hit the right shots on the last two holes. It didn't seem to us he was shooting that score."
Two years ago, Daly hit seven shots into the water on the 11th hole at The Lakes in the Australian Open when he ran out of golf balls and walked in. He played that day with Hunter Mahan, who also found him to be good company on the golf course.
The scores paint a picture, however. It was the 62nd time that Daly has posted an 80 or higher, and that's just on the PGA Tour. His highest score was an 18 at Bay Hill in 1998 when he hit six balls in the water on the par-5 sixth hole. He followed that with a birdie on the next hole.
In the Dutch Open years ago, Daly played the final three holes in 1-under par to break 90.
"He's waiting to play well to love the game, but he needs to love the game and then wait to play well," Harrington said. "It's like he's trying too hard. If I was going to say anything, it's that he tries too hard. He's caring too much. I know that's not what people see."