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Birkdale Notebook: Daly finishes next to last after rounds of 80-89
Former Open champ John Daly ends two days a staggering 20 shots off the cut line. Plus, Tom Watson has a reason to stick around, a death touches many, and more.
SOUTHPORT, England (AP) - John Daly is out of excuses and the Open Championship after an 89 on Friday left him at 29-over-par 189 for the tournament and a staggering 20 strokes on the wrong side of the cut line.
Daly began the week talking about injuries and blasting former coach Butch Harmon, who ended their brief relationship in March after saying Daly was drinking too much and more interested in partying than practicing. Daly said those remarks cost him endorsements and caused him considerable pain.
His round Friday included a quintuple-bogey 9 and three doubles. He missed an 18-inch putt at the 18th and was cheered by fans who howled when the "Wild Thing" was in his prime and pounding tee shots through the wind and into the distance. He walked off the green, stopped to sign an autograph - left-handed, while cradling a cigarette in his right hand - then signed his card and climbed into the back of a waiting car. He declined comment.
DEATH TOUCHES MANY: The wife of PGA TOUR Rules Official Dillard Pruitt died Friday from complications of cystic fibrosis, news that hit Scott Verplank particularly hard after he finished his second round of the Open Championship.
Fran Pruitt, who was 46, and Verplank's wife were sisters.
"She's the one who introduced us," he said quietly as he sat in the locker room at Royal Birkdale, so numb over the news that he wasn't the least bit interested in his round of 67 that brought him back into contention, five shots out of the lead.
Pruitt's death touched many PGA TOUR members.
Her husband played on the PGA TOUR from 1988 to 1996 before he decided to become a rules officials. He is the younger brother of Jan Haas, who is married to Champions Tour player Jay Haas. And she set up her little sister, Kim, on a blind date in Dallas with Verplank.
Fran Pruitt had been awaiting a double lung transplant and took a turn for the worse earlier this week. Verplank, who brought his son with him to Britain and celebrated Scottie's 16th birthday Monday, said he considered withdrawing Thursday, but his wife and Dillard Pruitt insisted he play.
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"My wife said the only good news she had today was getting a text that I was playing good and that someone saw Scottie on TV," Verplank said.
LINKS TO THE BOOTH: Four straight bogeys late in his round kept Tom Watson from making the cut. He followed his 74 in miserable weather with a 76 in slightly better conditions, missing a weekend tee time by one shot.
Next up for Watson is the Senior British Open at Royal Troon, one of five links courses where he won the Open Championship. But he won't be leaving Royal Birkdale just yet.
Watson reluctantly agreed to try broadcasting this weekend and will join ABC Sports as a commentator.
"They asked me to do it, and I said, 'I don't want to do that.' But on the other hand, the British Open is not a bad place for you to do it," Watson said. "You have a chance to play in it, see the golf course, and tell the viewers what you think of a particular shot. I said, 'You know what? I probably can do that. Let me give it a try.' So that's what I'm going to do the next couple days."
OLYMPIC HELP: Golf has another voice in its campaign to be part of the Olympics: Jack Nicklaus.
"I've offered to help where I can, if I can," Nicklaus said Friday during a brief stop at Royal Birkdale. "I'm doing golf courses around the world. If golf became an Olympic sport, it would get government financing. It would be a big thing in the world of golf to get financing in a lot of places where golf is not played."
Nicklaus wasn't even aware that golf executives had put together a plan and met with IOC officials in May. He said he was in his office Monday chatting about golf and the Olympics when an assistant called the PGA TOUR to inquire about the chances. That's when they learned of an announcement Tuesday at the Open, in which Ty Votaw was chosen to lead the effort.
"I just told them wherever they need me, I'd be happy to help," Nicklaus said. "If I'm going to one of these countries and they have an IOC guy they?d like to have me talk to, I'd be delighted."
VIVE VAN DE VELDE: For the first time since St. Andrews eight years ago, Jean Van de Velde will be playing on the weekend at the Open Championship. The Frenchman famous for his comical collapse at Carnoustie in 1999 was actually on the leaderboard Friday, just two shots out, until struggling on the back nine.
He wound up with a 71 and at 4-over 144 was only five shots out of the lead.
"I had it going but made a couple of mistakes and paid the price for those," Van de Velde said of his double bogey on the 11th and a triple bogey on the 16th. "But I'm very happy. If it wasn't for a couple of blemishes, I could have been under par. It's 'should haves' and 'would haves' I guess."
No one knows that better than Van de Velde, who "should" have won the '99 Open if he 'would' have laid up short of Barry Burn on the 18th hole. Then he 'could' have avoided a triple bogey on the final hole and perhaps not lost in a playoff.
ROCCO ROCKS: Rocco Mediate keeps delivering big moments in the majors, the latest keeping him in the hunt Friday. After chopping up the par-5 17th for a bogey, his approach to the 18th stopped inches away for a tap-in birdie and a 73.
That put him only two shots behind 53-year-old Greg Norman.
Mediate was alone in the lead until his 3-wood went well to the right on the tough 11th hole. His chip went sideways, and he wound up with a double bogey. Then came another bogey on the 14th, the bogey on the 17th, and his big finish.
"I made two bad swings today, and I got what I deserved on those holes," he said of the 11th and 17th. "Other than that, I didn't make as many putts today, obviously. I hit the ball a million times better, shot four shots higher. Go figure. That's how it works in this game."
Does he have a better chance trying to catch Norman at Birkdale than Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines?
"It's still a major," Mediate said. "It's still going to be the most exciting thing ever if you're in the hunt. The difference is, you don't have to look him (Woods) in the eye. I'd rather him be here than not, to tell you the truth."