Ah, the Daly meltdown. We've seen a lot of them over the years. What makes this one so odd, though, is the fact that Daly was playing great this week. He shot 63 in the second round, his best score in five years.
And then shoots 86 on Saturday. From 63 to 86, a difference of 23 strokes. That has to be one of the biggest gaps between scores in Tour history. For comparison, the British Open record for most contrasting rounds is 22 strokes (Fred Fitzjohn in 1892 and Robin Davenport in 1966). The Masters record is 21 strokes (Craig Wood - like Daly, a 2-time major champion - in 1936). In recent PGA Tour history, Kevin Stadler had a 20-stroke gap between his first (81) and second (61) rounds at the 2008 Frys.com Open.
Daly's 63rd stroke on Saturday occurred when he teed off the 13th hole. And yes, that means Daly rallied to shoot 86, finishing with two pars and birdie in the final three holes. Prior to that, Daly's round included two double-bogeys, a triple and a quad, and six "single-bogeys."
Here are Daly's highest scores in PGA Tour tournaments:
- 89 - Second round, 2008 British Open
- 88 - Second round, 2009 Buick Open
- 87 - Second round, 2007 Wachovia Championship; final round, 2000 Bay Hill Invitational
- 86 - Third round, 2012 Timberlake Shriners; second round, 1993 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
- 85 - Final round, 1998 Bay Hill Invitational (this round included an 18 on one hole)
Of course, those are the bad rounds Daly finished. There've been multiple other Daly blow-up rounds during which he walked off the course.
There's never a good time to shoot 86 (unless you almost never break 90!), but this was a particularly bad time for Daly. He's actually having one of his best years in a while. He entered the Las Vegas tournament just a handful of spots outside the Top 125 on the money list. Daly was tied for sixth place at the start of the third round, projected to move into the Top 125 if he stayed there. Now, he's in last.
Daly still has more Fall Series opportunities to move into the Top 125, and if he does he'll secure fully exempt status on the 2013 PGA Tour - something Daly hasn't had since 2006.
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