ORLANDO – John Daly putted so poorly on Saturday that when his son walked off the 18th green at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, he asked a friend, “Teach my dad how to putt, please.”
John II wasn’t kidding but his dear old-dad, 55, figured things out with his short stick on Sunday as Team Daly poured in 13 birdies and an eagle en route to shooting 15-under 57 in the two-person scramble format.
“Hit seven naturals today, so I helped the team today,” Big John said of his rediscovered putting prowess.
The 36-hole total of 27-under 117 was two strokes better than Tiger and Charlie Woods, breaking the previous tournament scoring record set by Davis Love III/Dru Love in 2018 by one stroke, and earned Team Daly the red-leather Willie Park winner’s belts.
“He’s always wanted to win those belts,” said Daly’s longtime girlfriend, Anna Cladakis.
John II is a freshman on the University of Arkansas golf team, his father’s alma mater, and he was decked out in a Razorbacks golf shirt, hat and belt buckle. The 18-year-old has been playing in this event since he was 12.
“To watch him grow up to do the things he could do with a golf ball,” the proud papa said, “and a swing that’s so perfect, but saving my you-know-what from putting yesterday, and he played phenomenal and I helped him with a few shots here and there.”
Team Daly combined to birdie every hole except two on the inward nine (Nos. 15, 17). Daly stuck his approach at 16 tight for the birdie that would be the difference.
“We are used to hitting like wedges up there, and I hit a horrible drive,” Big John said. “I hit a 7-iron in there about a foot and a half and it was a birdie there. I think that was a big, big turning point for this week right there.”
“When he made that, we knew it was basically over because I checked the leaderboard to see what Tiger finished at,” John II said.
Team Daly had finished inside the top-10 in all six appearances at the PNC Championship, with a tie for second in 2018, but had never won the belts they so desperately wanted.
“Every year we always try and win but this was the year just enjoyed it and being here playing with him in the holidays,” John II said. “I guess that’s what happens, when you win.”