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June 17, 1999

John Daly


LES UNGER: John, it's good to have you here. And I'm wondering where this bolt of lightning showed up, the last month on the Tour. There's not a lot to show that you're going to shoot 2-under at the U.S. Open.

JOHN DALY: I wish I knew. I'm about as much in shock as everybody else is right now. But I got off to a great start. Something I haven't done in quite a long time. To birdie the first three holes in a U.S. Open doesn't happen too much. And I made a great 10-footer on 4 for par. And I just started feeling really good about it. And I just hit the ball really solid today. A few bad drives, but I was real pleased. My short game sort of came back a little bit. When I missed the green I got up-and-down most of the time. And it just felt good. I felt like the whole game just was gone. I didn't have any confidence or any expectations coming in here. But knowing that I could pretty much hit driver on most of the holes helped an awful lot.

LES UNGER: Take us through your card, please, and don't talk about the straight pars, but any saves or birds, please.

JOHN DALY: Okay. Started out on 1 I hit a driver, sand wedge to about 12 feet and made it. No. 2 I hit driver, a little 9-iron, made a good 20-footer there for birdie. 3 I hit a driver, L-wedge from about 40 yards to about five feet and made it for birdie. 8, hit a driver and a fat wedge, real short, chipped up kind of short, missed a 10-footer for par. 9, hit 8-iron about 25 feet up the hill. Made it for birdie. And 18 hit driver, 5-iron, wedge to about 20 feet and 2-putted for bogey.

LES UNGER: Tell us about those specs, about the glasses.

JOHN DALY: About the sunglasses? I've been wearing them about ever since Augusta. I was in so many bunkers at Augusta. I got done, and my eyes were squinting so bad I decided to start wearing them. And for me, like on a cloudy day, this lens here, just brightens the day up, and you see a lot better. It took me a good month to get used to them. But now I walk outside, I've got to have them on.

Q. John, what do you think when you're walking up the 18th fairway and people still root for you as much as they ever did, what's running through your mind?

JOHN DALY: It's just the greatest feeling in the world. Fans have stuck with me through thick and thin, and it was so nice to give them a good round today, not only for myself, but for them. It's just awesome. I hadn't figured out why that they do it, but I sure love it and I love them for it.

Q. How would you describe your drive at 18?

JOHN DALY: I don't know how to describe the drive on 18. I don't know if my hand slipped or if I just came down a little quick and opened the face and caught it right off the toe. It was actually a good one more than a bad one. When it hit the tree it could have gone anywhere. Luckily it came back, and I advanced the ball up the fairway and had a chance of making par.

Q. You birdied the first three holes, standing on 14, tell us a little bit about your mentality and did it change because you were 3-under today?

JOHN DALY: No, not really. I think the greatest thing about today, the drives that I missed, I missed them way left, which means I'm swinging good. So I didn't get discouraged, except for 18. But on No. 4 I was kind of licking my chops. I figured if I could get it out in the fairway, I could get 4 in a row. I hit it, it didn't really change. I knew you can't come here and go at the flags. You could a little bit today because the greens were a little softer. Even when I had a wedge in my hand, I tried to avoid the flags. I wanted to stay patient and hit the middle of the greens, so I didn't get aggressive at all when I was at 3-under. Most of the time you do that you can just -- like last weekend I had not gotten anything going. You could fire at the flags. But here it's hard to continue to make a bunch of birdies, because the course is so hard.

Q. Two questions, No. 1, how does a guy who 6-putts from 8 feet, 1-putt his first hole. And the 3 tee you waited for the green to clear and you hit driver, were you trying to drive it or were you trying to --

JOHN DALY: I was trying to cut it in there. I think I could have gotten in the green-side bunker. I didn't want to distract Glen Day and the guys in front of me. We knew it was going to be a long day anyway. It's better just to wait. If I cut it a little bit, I could have gotten it in that bunker.

Q. And the putting?

JOHN DALY: The putter? I switched after the 6 putter course. I'm using the new Odyssey Force 3, and it's a little softer feel. It just felt good today.

Q. What did you putt with on the 6 putt?

JOHN DALY: What did I putt with? Don't even know. It was an Odyssey, though.

Q. John, you probably had the best vantage point of anybody about the driver on 18. Where was that headed had it not hit that tree?

JOHN DALY: No telling. I don't know if it was cutting or drawing, because it came off shooting right so fast it was toed. So if it misses a tree, it might have been hooking. I don't know. But I was very fortunate for us to even find the ball, anybody to see it. I look at it as a good break instead of a bad one.

Q. John, this hasn't been a great year for you by any stretch of the imagination. Where did today come from?

JOHN DALY: I don't know. I just wanted to go out and just play and just do the best I can. That's what I've been doing, even through the up-and-downs this year, except for the 6 putt, of course, at Memorial. I don't know where it came from. I think Majors, I just seem to focus better in Majors. I don't know why, I just do.

Q. John, taking out the par 3s, how many times did you end up hitting your driver today?

JOHN DALY: I think I hit iron on 7 and I want to say that's pretty much about it. Pretty much every other hole I hit driver on.

Q. Sets up good for you?

JOHN DALY: Yeah, it really does.

Q. John, you mentioned I guess to television that you played like the old John Daly. Were you drawing any memories from Crooked Stick or anything like that in terms of the wide fairways and being able to just blast at it?

JOHN DALY: No, I didn't really think too much about it. I do think that the greens are similar to St. Andrews the way the USGA shaved them down. I felt a little better when I did miss a green today. And of course I missed most of my shots where you could at least have a chance to make par. So I think the greens, the fringes and stuff being shaved down I think it helps me an awful lot.

Q. John, there's been a couple of Majors in the past couple of years where you got off to a good start. I think you had a 69 at Olympic, and got a good start at the PGA, and the second round didn't play so good. How do you plan to approach tomorrow and try to reverse that a little bit?

JOHN DALY: I don't know. I really don't know. The thing is with me I don't know who's showing up tomorrow, that's the way the year has been. I can honestly say that. And it's a little scary. But I just kind of want to soak this day in and pat myself on the back for a good round that I much needed for myself and for my self-esteem. But I like tomorrow's chances, in a way that I can hit driver on the holes. And it's a lot of fun to be able to play golf the way golf was meant to be played, not having to hit 5-irons off the tees. Whether I play good or not, I hope I just enjoy it and do the best I can, and take it from there.

Q. John, what is it about you that enables you to come back from so much?

JOHN DALY: I'm used to it, I guess. I don't know (laughter.) I really don't know. It's been unbelievable. But perseverance, I guess, is what they call it. I don't know. I really don't know. I just keep coming back.

Q. Could you recant No. 10, with the approximate distances and the club use?

JOHN DALY: 10 I hit driver off the tee, and I just thought it was in the rough, but I think I had 269 for my second shot and cut a 3-wood out of there to the front right bunker there and hit a pretty good sand shot and missed the 8-footer for bogey.

Q. John, you've been pretty open about this championship taking the driver away from you in the past. Has there ever been a time when you considered taking the U.S. Open off of your schedule because of that frustration?

JOHN DALY: I honestly did last year. It was very frustrating. It was frustrating because it wasn't really a golf course I needed a driver on. And I think a major championship should be played to where you've got to play golf and not having to hit the 4-, 5- and 3-irons off tees. And I think that's why the guys love this place so much and love Pebble Beach so much, because it's traditional golf. It's the only courses that have been around for a long, long time that are still ones you can hit drivers on. Courses that are being built today are pretty much target golf. It's just taking drivers out of a lot of the long hitters on the Tour, but it just kind of takes it away. And somebody was talking about the next generation of golf courses are going to have to be 8000 yards. Well, I'd sure love to build one. That would be a lot of fun (laughter.)

Q. I think you saved par at 14, 15, 16, 17. Did you have the sense, "I can't keep doing that, these are some great saves all the way through." Was it starting to run out on you?

JOHN DALY: They were fringes, more or less. The one on 14 was a very difficult little swale, I made a great par there. 15, 16 and 17 were more or less fringe putts that I felt hopefully the worst I would make would be par. And 18 was just a good bogey. It was just one of those bad tee balls. I tell you what. I look at my statistics here and the hell with them, they're awful (laughter.) But I'm 2-under par. So I'm not even going to look at them, because it doesn't make sense to me, either.

Q. You mentioned not being able to predict who's going to show up tomorrow. When you leave the course today, what are you going to do to unwind and get on track?

JOHN DALY: I'm going to go eat about 6 cheeseburgers at McDonald's, probably have a bag of Oreos and a big thing of milk, watch Sports Center, and hopefully see myself on TV (laughter.)

Q. The year you won the British, that was your only Top-10 the whole year. Going into a week like this, having the year you had, can you draw on that and maybe use it positively?

JOHN DALY: I hope so. It's kind of weird, my career has not been the greatest, but I would rather have the two Majors that I've won than won 15 other tournaments. I don't know if players would agree with that or not, but it seems to me that they're the most talked about tournaments in the world and to already have two, I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but I am, because I'm such a competitor. But it's always been a dream to win, of course, all four. It just makes it so much nicer to all the downs I've had and all that to be able to win two Majors after what I've gone through. I don't expect to win the U.S. Open. I can't sit here and say that. My game is not in that fine of rhythm and I don't quite have the confidence. But if I could keep doing what I'm doing, hopefully I can, throughout the week, hopefully I can maybe find the confidence to pull it off. But I don't expect to.

Q. John, just as a follow-up to that last question, of the two Majors that you've won, did you feel like there were any similarities in terms of what you expected out of yourself going into those events and how your confidence grew once they started to unfold?

JOHN DALY: Well, the PGA went by so fast, I don't really remember too much about that. But the British, I just told myself, always as a young kid I wanted to win the tournament and I had a chance to do it and I did it. It's just something that not too many guys get a chance to ever do. But I don't know if I answered your question, to tell you the truth.

Q. Do you recall your mindset going into those two tournaments?

JOHN DALY: The British Open, I think I had played worse, if it was possible, than what I did before I came here. The PGA, when I was going into the PGA, that one I was playing really good. I had already kept my card for the following year of '92. And to win that I was playing really good. The British Open, I didn't touch a club for three weeks before I went over there. Here I've played all the way up to the U.S. Open, hoping to find it coming here, not having it, and finding the golf course that I really love that's fun to play, just to hit drivers on. So who knows?

Q. John, your driver history at the Olympic last year, did you not have it in the bag for a couple of days, and then you put it back in the bag? How did that affect the last year not even having it there?

JOHN DALY: I didn't hit my irons well at Olympic. I got through the first day there making a lot of putts, getting it up-and-down from there. I never had confidence in the long irons. So I hit driver on holes I thought I could hit driver on, and just wasn't a golf course that I felt real comfortable with.

Q. When did you put it back in the bag?

JOHN DALY: I actually had it in there all four rounds.

Q. Just didn't use it?

JOHN DALY: I don't think I used it on Thursday, but I used it on Friday and Saturday and Sunday.

Q. John, two questions. What's held you back in the last year, and secondly, how is your inner battle against alcoholism going?

JOHN DALY: I wish I knew what's held me back. I've worked harder this year than I have any other year. I think I've been putting too much pressure on myself, trying to force things to happen instead of letting them happen. And the second question is, even when I'm playing good, it's a hard, hard -- the cravings are there. You can't imagine what I'm going through when I'm playing bad. I've always told people that don't understand, you take your best food and say you can't eat that today or ever again. And so I've been fighting it. Every day it's a struggle. But I've gotten through a lot of days. I got through this one hopefully, and hopefully get through tomorrow.

Q. At what point today did you think I might have something going here?

JOHN DALY: Never (laughter.) Never. I never did. I was in total shock after birdie-ing the first three holes. To just play the last 15 1-over I think was pretty good, because the golf course is hard, there's no doubt. And I never felt real comfortable about it. It was weird. I just never did. I just kept fighting, trying to miss shots where you're supposed to miss them here. So the gameplan was pretty good.

Q. John, you've played strong here at THE TOUR Championship several years ago. Do you have a certain level of comfort being at Pinehurst No. 2, coming in and not having a great game, and also feeling that I'm not really going to shake it up this week. Are you at some comfort level because of those two things?

JOHN DALY: I think I played so drunk here in '91, I don't even remember the holes, I honestly don't. I think -- they told me I finished 1 under and finished 3rd. I think the holes I really remember were 16 through 18. And 16 was playing a par-5 back then. I love the golf course. It's hard. It's very hard. But like I said before, you don't have to sit there and hit 2- and 3-irons off every hole like most Majors. Pretty much a lot of the U.S. Opens have been. I think it's a fun golf course. I think everybody that's playing in it this week, all 156 say it's a lot of fun to play.

Q. John, as somebody who's won a couple of Majors, and somebody who feels the way about kids, and especially daughters the way you do, how do you feel about Phil's sentiment, if Amy goes into labor, he's going back, no matter what his standing is in the tournament?

JOHN DALY: If he's got a 6-shot lead and I'm in second and I'm 3 shots ahead of everybody, I'm going to pat him and say go ahead and go home. I'll go to the baby store and buy you all the baby clothes you need. I think every guy out here whose wife is having a baby, I'd do the same, there's no doubt. I've seen two beautiful babies born in my life and they're mine, and it's something that you treasure for the rest of your life. The footprints on the little doctor's clothes that they gave me, I still have. Seeing a baby born is so much more unbelievable than championships or anything, you're seeing somebody come into this world, and I'm sure a lot of you have seen it, it's a beautiful thing. I respect him for that. That's really cool.

Q. John, not to belabor the point, but at Olympic didn't you say you were going to leave the driver out of the bag for the first round, then you got frustrated in the first round and said, screw it, I'm going to put it back in. I'm going to hit it and whatever happens, happens?

JOHN DALY: I don't know. I think actually I hit my driver pretty good at Olympic when I hit it. I hit my irons so bad there. My iron play was so awful there. I was hitting my driver actually straighter than I was hitting my irons off the tee. Last year I think I got frustrated with just the golf course. I think a lot of guys did. On 18 on Friday, we just got frustrated.

LES UNGER: Thank you, John.

End of FastScripts....

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