THE WOODLANDS, Texas – John Daly shot a 2-under 70 on Friday in his PGA Tour Champions debut, leaving him four strokes behind leader Mike Goodes in the Insperity Invitational.
Daly had four birdies and two bogeys at The Woodlands Country Club, playing alongside friend Fuzzy Zoeller and Peter Jacobsen. The two-time major champion turned 50 on April 28.
“It was like starting all over,” Daly said. “The nerves were good, but it’s cool coming out here and having positive nerves, and I just fed off Fuzzy and Jake. You know, I couldn’t have asked to play with two better people. For my first round on the Champions Tour, we just had a blast.”
Daly was in a nine-man tie for 12th. He hit 13 of 14 fairways, 16 of 18 greens in regulation and topped the field with a driving average of 317.5 yards on the two measuring holes.
“I was surprised how good I hit the ball,” Daly said. “I mean, I hit a lot of fairways, and that 1-iron was a blessing today for me. Even when I didn’t hit it good, it was going in the fairway, and I gave myself a lot of chances, a lot of chances to hit greens and a lot of opportunities.”
Daly parred the first six holes, bogeyed the par-4 seventh and rebounded with birdies on the par-3 eighth and par-4 ninth. He added birdies on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th, had a bogey on the par-3 14th and closed with four pars.
“I just couldn’t get the putter to make anything,” Daly said. “But I rolled it good, and for me that’s what mattered today, is just hitting the ball solid and getting it around, and I didn’t shoot myself out of the tournament.”
The 59-year-old Goodes bogeyed the par-4 18th for a 66. He made four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16.
“The key in my game is keep giving myself opportunities,” Goodes said. “You make some putts and you go around, it looks like you’re not making much, and all of a sudden I make four in a row and that’s just the way this game is. You have to be patient, keep giving yourself opportunities.”
Canada’s Stephen Ames had a 67, and area resident Jeff Maggert and Duffy Waldorf shot 68.
“Struggling a little bit with my golf swing right now, but I’ve put a lot of work on my putting the last couple weeks when I haven’t been playing,” Ames said. “I haven’t put a lot of work into my golf swing so it’s showing now for me. Made some nice putts and a lot of birdies.”
Defending champion Ian Woosnam opened with a 73.
Zoeller and Jacobsen each shot 76.