THE always colourful John Daly has added another highlight to his long and eventful career with his maiden victory on the US Champions Tour.
The 51 year old did it in true John Daly style, recording the Insperity Invitational win exactly a year after making his over 50’s debut at the same tournament.
After two-putting the 18th at the Woodlands Country Club Daly was showered in champagne by some tour colleagues, probably not the only time alcohol will be part of the celebrations to come in the next few days.
“It’s just awesome,” said Daly, who finished at 14-under, a stroke better than runners-up Tommy Armour III and Kenny Perry.
“I want to let all my sponsors know that I love them and thank them for everything.”
Daly started the final round with a 1-shot lead over Perry and quickly extended it with an eagle on the first and a birdie on the third.
Daly later made bogeys on 16 and 17, but Armour, who grabbed a share of the lead at 13, and Perry couldn’t apply much pressure.
“These finishing holes are so hard,” Daly said. “I didn’t hit the irons very good these last two days. I drove the ball tremendously with my Vertical Groove driver. And I putted so good. I just kind of hung in there and did the best I could. It wasn’t pretty at the end, but I got it done. That’s all that matters.”
Walking up the 18th fairway Daly bent down and kissed a huge Arnold Palmer umbrella that tournament workers painted on the grass as a mark of respect.
“Some guys come out here and win right off the bat, get the monkey off their back, but now I can say I’m a champion on the PGA TOUR Champions,” Daly said at what was his 22nd start on the tour. “It’s really cool and hopefully I can keep this confidence going.”
After the winning putt dropped, fellow competitor Esteban Toledo was one of those who showered Daly with champagne.
“I look at these guys, a lot of these guys ?? we’re all friends out here,” Daly said. “We’re big competitors, but we like to have a good time. I look at this Tour kind of an older European Tour. The guys do that in Europe as well. I’ve got a lot of great friends out here. We’ve played a lot of golf over the years together, and we love hanging out and playing golf.
“This Tour, they’ll go out and have a beer with you or they will go to dinner with you, and it won’t just be one or two families, it will be six or seven. We all stick together. There is a lot of love and friendship on this Tour.”
Daly’s previous victory was on the main tour at the 2004 Buick Invitational, where he defeated Luke Donald and Chris Riley in a playoff. He also held sole possession of the lead entering the final round of the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship but lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods.
His previous best Champions Tour effort was a T11 at last year’s DICK’S Sporting Goods Open.
Daly has five US PGA TOUR victories under his belt and is a two-time major champion, winning the 1991 US PGA Championship and the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews in 1995.
John Daly Insperity Win: Highlights Video