John Daly looks to carry winning momentum into Senior PGA Championship

John Daly
USA Today Sports Images
After securing his first victory in 13 years earlier this month, John Daly is hoping that solid play can continue this week at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | 12:41 p.m.

POTOMAC FALLS, Va. -- John Daly has always been a fan favorite.

In this week's KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Trump National, it wouldn't be far-fetched to also call the 1991 PGA Champion and 1995 Open Champion a potential tournament favorite.

WATCH: Daly's press conference from Senior PGA Championship

Daly, 51, won the Insperity Invitational on the PGA Tour Champions at the start of May. It was his first win since 2004 at the PGA Tour's Buick Invitational.

"It was a drought, there's no doubt, but it was just one of those weeks that I finally got the putter working," Daly said of the win. "I've been driving the ball very straight this year which is really helping me get some pretty low rounds. I didn't really play great in Birmingham (last week's Regions Tradition), but I went out on Sunday and said, I know I can play this course, and shot 65 on it on Sunday to hopefully build on it, get some confidence. But, no, it was, the first year out here on this Champions Tour, I mean it's hard to win. It's hard to win anywhere."

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After having a couple of days to check out Trump National, Daly likes what he sees -- especially the fact that it plays on the longer side, something that should surely benefit the man who is third on the PGA Tour Champions in driving distance.

"The course is unbelievable," he said. "It's beautiful. It plays longer than what the yardage shows I think maybe because of the weather a little bit. But the fairways are beautiful. They're just tight. It's hard to get the ball in the air with your longer irons so I'm trying to put I put a 2 and 3-iron hybrid in the bag. We haven't played on bent this year yet. We have played on I think six or seven events have all been on Bermuda. So any time you get up in the north, northeast, even the kind of northern Midwest and stuff, you go to poa annua and bent and it change, everything changes, the greens are a little softer, and going from Bermuda to bent there's not much grain, so I struggled yesterday just getting the ball in the air. That is because we just haven't played on tight tight fairways like this in a while. So, the golf course is beautiful. It's got some pretty good tough par-3s, the par-5s if I drive it really well I can get home to most of them. I think here it's just keeping it in the fairway. The rough's up, it's a little damp, which makes it tougher to hit out of, but it's a great, great golf course. Unbelievable golf course. I'm looking forward to it."

In 2017, Daly has collected four top-25 finishes in eight starts. With $437,879 in earnings, he enters this week ranked ninth in the Charles Schwab Cup points standings.

He attributes a lot of that success on the course to a new driver from a company called "Vertical Groove" that has him finding a lot more fairways.

WATCH: John Daly, Rocco Mediate, and Miguel Angel Jimenez highlight round one marquee groups

Simply put, Daly said, when he's finding more fairways, he's hitting more greens and shooting lower scores.

"The Vertical Groove driver is really, if you haven't hit it, you need to try and hit it," Daly said. "Against the wind it's just there's just no spin. It just keeps going. I feel like it's just a driver that I can control and hit straighter than anything I've hit since probably the 540 back when I won with TaylorMade at Torrey Pines. I just feel like I'm going to hit it straight every time or hit my nice cut with it every time. And when you're hitting fairways it's a lot easier to score, you got better chances to get it close to the hole, shorter clubs going in, and so that part of it I just feel like that's going to help me, if I'm driving the ball good with my length I feel like I can score pretty good. That's pretty much it."

Looking back on his career -- tumultuous at times with off-course issues -- Daly said he never wonders about what could have been in terms of more majors of victories. He chalks what his career has been up to a streaky putter.

"I could go out and hit 18 greens and shoot even par," he said. "I was never the best putter out here. One year, 2004, I think I led the stats in putting, but other than that I was always at best maybe 70th. I've never been a great putter. I've been a good ball-striker a long time, but if you're not a great putter you're not going to win a lot. And I can classify myself as not a great putter. I know the way I hit the ball if I putt average or just a little above average I'm going to have a great round. But if I don't putt at least that, it's not going to be a good round. I pretty much, I don't have any regrets on that, that's just the way it is. I'm one of those streaky feel putters. I don't know why. I never put mechanics in my putting, every time I tried -- I tried different grips, I tried different lengths, I tried different putters but I always seem to go back to the same way putted, it's the only way I know how. I can't consider -- I can't dwell on the past, that I haven't won a lot, but any time I didn't play good was mainly because I didn't putt very good." 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.