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January 27, 2011

John Daly


MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome John Daly, a round of 67 today on the South course. If you'd talk a little bit about your round and we'll take some questions.
JOHN DALY: Got off to a decent start. Hit some really good shots. Started out a birdie on 3, the par-3, which was nice. I hit it about four feet, and then made a good birdie on 4 which kind of got everything going. And fortunate to birdie 6 and birdie 9. Hit a beautiful shot on 8 just over the flag, one hopped in the rough and made a bogey.
It was just one of those days that was real solid. You kind of look at the hardest holes on each course, and if you don't hit the fairway on them, you're almost guaranteed a bogey because of the rough. But I managed to play the hard, hard holes really good today.
MARK STEVENS: It was the best round here since the year you won when you shot a 66 in the second round.

Q. Does six years ago here seem like yesterday or like 14 lifetimes ago?
JOHN DALY: It seems a long time ago. Everybody's saying, hey, it's your 20th anniversary for the PGA. And I'm going, oh, my God. It was '91 when I won that, and 16 on the British. Seems like a long time ago.
But it's kind of cool. You always -- my tournaments that I've won, besides the majors, the two majors, I think this might be the only one that I've ever won that I get to keep coming back to. The B.C. Open and Atlanta, they're gone now. So this place is always special because it is the only tournament I get to come back hopefully every year to as a past champion that actually the golf course is still here.
B.C. was great, Atlanta was great, it's just not there anymore.

Q. You play for 20 years, some of them disappear after a while?
JOHN DALY: Yeah, they have, a lot of them have. But this is a great place. To me this is one of the greatest golf courses that we ever play in the south, and what's really cool about it is it's public.

Q. It was a year ago that you might have had one of your lowest points where you walked out of the parking lot here and said I'm done. A lot of people thought you were walking away from golf. Talk about going from there to here you are today, right now the leader in the clubhouse.
JOHN DALY: I mean, you get frustrated. You know, this place means a lot to me. You think about winning here and stuff like I did in '04, and you see Tiger plays here every year. The top golfers play here every year, that says something. It's a special place.
And to play this good the first round especially on the South, most of the players, and I know myself would rather get off the North where you might be able to get it going. But tell you the truth, the North is playing almost as hard as the South now with the new tee boxes. Honestly, I think the fairways are a little more narrow on the North.
It's a hell of a test of golf now. It's not a pushover like it has been in the past.

Q. What's your schedule from here on? What are your feelings about asking for exemptions, getting them, not getting them? What are your expectations at this point for where you get in and when you get in?
JOHN DALY: I know I'm in Mayakoba. I know I'm in Pebble. I'm going to Qatar next week. Want to try to get my amount. I think Hong Kong counted for the first one for Europe this year. I want to get my 11 or 12 that I have to get in Europe as well and see what happens.
There's been nine to ten tournaments that I'm already in even from here that would give me at least 12, 13 events. And hopefully some of the Fall Classic stuff I'll get in to get my 15.
But just take them as they come. I want to play a little bit in Europe. I owe that to them for what they've done for me in the past.
Like I said last year, any tournament that gave me a spot last year, I'm definitely going to play. I kind of let Clair Peterson down at John Deere. I made a mistake. He had given me a spot, and I had already promised the Scottish Open, so I told him this year I'd definitely be at the John Deere if he wants me.
So you just take them as they come. I remember the people who gave them to me last year because I was real scared if I was going to get enough to keep my 15. Hopefully if I get them this year, those are the tournaments, even if I keep my card, those are the ones that I'll go back.
I'll tell you this: I'll never go back to the hope and I'll never go back to Phoenix, no matter what happens. I won't even send letters anymore. I'm not saying that to ditch the tournaments.
I'm just saying that if you look at my past, everything the Thunderbirds have ever wanted me to do for 20 -- well, 17, 16 years I'm sure I did it for them. I helped get celebrities go to the Hope. I helped them out. I went to their parties and did everything for them.
That is the kind of stuff that we all want our young players to do out here to help the tournaments, and I felt like I did my part. It hurt me for those two tournaments not to give me spots. So I'll go to Europe on those weeks.

Q. What is the thought process of not opting to go to Q-school? Is it just you feel like you've kind of been there done that?
JOHN DALY: I don't know. I don't like a fifth major where you don't (smiling). It's a tough decision. I know it was great. Billy Mayfair went in it. But I don't think right now I need to.
Like I said, I'm sort of a life exempt on the European Tour. I feel my majors will still hopefully get me in 15 events each year. If not, I'll think about it. But for me to go to Q-school is just tough. I feel I don't really need to go that route yet because of the European Tour.

Q. What's been holding you back in your game before today? What have you felt has been the most frustrating that's keeping you from scoring?
JOHN DALY: I think the injuries and the putter, no doubt. These last three and a half years since the flash of the camera at Honda, it's just ruined my career. I'm not going to lie about it.
When you separate a shoulder and two fractures in a rib and a torn cartilage in one snapshot, it's been tough. I've stated to my doctor, Dr. Whitelaw, we've gone from three months of popping things back in to two months. He's got me on a decent regiment where I can keep this shoulder strong and my ribs strong.
It's caused a lot of hip problems. I changed my swing. In '08 I tried to shorten it when I was with Taylor Made. I spent like seven hours on the range two days in a row trying to shorten my swing, and they were all laughing at me.
But I'm feeling better the. I'm feeling healthy. I'm hitting the ball the way I want to hit it. I'm getting to the impact zone the way I want to get to it now. And seriously, it's been a struggle. It's been a long time. Hopefully the shoulder will hold up and keep going.

Q. What's the desire level at this point? 20 years in, how are you feeling about golf? Is it fun, is it work, a little bit of both? What is your desire?
JOHN DALY: I think the first part of the question is it's still fun, although it's a job. And it's work when you're playing hurt and you're working hard and trying to work around injuries, it does, it's work. When you don't play good it's hard for me to get spots in tournaments.
That's why I try to do -- all the tournament directors know the situation -- that's why I do a little more at each event, especially the last couple of years because I've been hurt.
You want me to go do this, play in your Pro-Ams, a little extra? And a lot of them were knowing that I was hurt. This year, so far so good that I'm healthy. And I'll still do those things, but I feel like if I just stay the way I am and keep doing my rehab on everything every day like I've been doing, hopefully everything will stay strong and I can keep playing better golf.

Q. Which shoulder?
JOHN DALY: Right shoulder, yeah.

Q. That is the rib on the same side?
JOHN DALY: Cartilage, two fractures, yeah. When it gets cold, Pebble's a tough week. But when it gets really cold is when they flame up and hurt a little bit. And on the putter thing, I went back home and I've had a lot of lessons with the putter over the last few years. Somehow I got my lie from 67 to 72 listening to everybody and started cutting putts.
I actually looked at the putter I won here, an old redneck putter. My lie was 67 and 4°, and I just had the Nike guys build me one that way, and it keeps my right elbow in. Not making a ton of putts, but at least I feel natural over the putts again.

Q. No matter where your game's been or where your life has really been, those fans have always stuck by you and always followed you. What's that meant to you all these years that you could always rely on that bunch out there?
JOHN DALY: It's awesome. It's really awesome. My mom told me one time if you have more people that love you and like you than hate you, then you've had a pretty successful life. And the fans make me feel that way. I mean, they're awesome coming out and watching me play this early. Everywhere I go, it's been great.
It's just nice to get a first round under my belt, decent, feeling confident, and hopefully just stay healthy to keep being out able to work and hit the golf ball like I know I can.

Q. Why is that connection so strong do you think? Why do you appeal to them so much?
JOHN DALY: I don't know. I've probably always shared the difficulties that I have in life like everybody else. I've never hid anything. I think that means a lot.
We all make mistakes in life, but if you share them, not only can they help you, but you can help them as well in tough situations in life. Whether it's a disease or certain things that we do that we shouldn't do or whatever, but that's what we're here for.
We're here to help each other. They help me get through the golf course, and hopefully things and the struggles that I've been through and turning around and making them a positive, maybe it helps a lot of other people.

Q. What kind of confidence do you get from today in terms of moving forward now for the rest of the week? Obviously, getting off to a good start and getting a good start on the South course, how do you feel about the rest of the week?
JOHN DALY: You never know. That North course, you never know tomorrow the wind could blow 30 or 40. That North course is not easy. I've played three practice rounds getting used to the new tee boxes. The angles are all different on a few holes. 11 was, hard as it was, now it's 498-yard par-4 where it used to be a 470-yard par-4. So the ball's not going over the hill now.
The North's just not an easy golf course. Got to stay focused. I love the way I'm hitting my driver. If I can keep hitting my driver this way, hopefully good things can happen.

End of FastScripts

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