“Average” Joe wins a major

Joe Daley … went from Monday qualifier to major winner

THERE are probably plenty of average Joe’s who dream of quitting their day job as a credit manager – or whatever it is than brings in the dollars – and becoming a professional golfer.

It’s hard enough for super talented youngsters to make a go of it on the professional golf tours, let alone someone later in life.

Well, that’s exactly what 51 year old Joe Daley did a few years back. And after all the years of travel and tournaments and frustration, today Joe had a 21 foot putt to win a golfing major.

Joe started his putt two foot left of the hole on the 72nd hole of the 2012 Senior Players Championship at the Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh.

The ball curled downhill, tracking towards the cup.

“And then fell in the right side of the hole,” Joe said. “It doesn’t get any better than that for me.”

It was his fourth birdie of the day and enough for a closing round

68 and a two stroke victory over British Open winner Tom Lehman.

In a field studded with the names of iconic golf champions and major winners, Joe was a Monday qualifier – just like he has been for his every Champions Tour start this year.

Now he has the biggest win of his professional career, is a senior major champion, has a cheque for US$405,000, and won’t have to worry about Monday qualifying for quite a while.

Joe quit his job as a credit manager in Philadelphia 21 years ago to chase his professional golfing career.

He played on the mini-tour circuits of North Carolina and Florida, had two seasons on the PGA TOUR in 1996 and ’98 and won twice on the Web.com (formerly Nationwide) Tour.

He also travelled and played around the world to Morocco, South Africa, South America, Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Mexico, Chile and other places he only dimly recalls.

“Just wherever there were tournaments,” he said. “We’d go play. That’s what we did.”

Joe finished on 14-under today, two ahead of Lehman (69). Olin Browne (65) was third on 11-under with Daley’s final-round playing partners Mark Calcavecchia (72) and Fred Couples (71) tied for fourth on 10-under.

“He made some great pars on the back,” said Calcavecchia, who had pulled to within two strokes with a birdie at the 15th but promptly bogeyed the 16th and 17th to fall out of contention. “He had about five straight holes there where he had a 4-footer for par and he made every one of them. He made every one of them. He deserves it. He’s been at this a long time, and this is a huge win for him, obviously.”

Joe was just starting to realise the advantages of his new found status.

“It gets me in next week, which I’m playing next week, so that’s big for me instead of going to Monday qualifying,” he said. “And it just opens up other opportunities to go out and play and prove how good I can be and compete against these guys because these guys can play.”

Australia’s Peter Senior had a disappointing final round 2-over 72 to finish the tournament on Even tied for 38th. He had fired a 66 in the third round.

Greg Norman stalled after his opening round 67 to shoot 74, 73 & 71 in the final rounds. He finished 5-over tied for 58th.

2012 Senior Players Championship Final Results

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