Sunshine is always a pleasant surprise at Pebble Beach, and Thursday brought a real stunner: John Daly was near the top of the leaderboard.
With his best opening round on the
Daly won an exhibition in Turkey last year. The last official win for the two-time major champion was at Torrey Pines in 2004. So when Daly rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on his final hole, one of the volunteers wasn't joking when he said, "Daly is at seven under? On his own?"
Daly laughed when he heard that. Then again, this day could put anyone in a good mood.
His golf was as glorious as the sunshine. Three years ago, a beautiful day gave way to fog and then rain without notice in a two-hour span. Last year, the third round was ravaged by rain and 30-mph wind. Thursday brought long shadows.
"To have weather like this now — it's supposed to be like this all week — it is absolutely incredible," said
Hicks and Holmes each shot at Pebble Beach, typically the easiest course in the rotation in benign conditions.
Furyk, former Pebble winner
Holmes had a start as ideal as the weather. He holed a wedge from 123 yards on the 10th hole for eagle, and then hit another wedge to five feet for birdie on No. 11. For all his length, he birdied only one of the par fives, and that was with a 20-foot putt.
Even so, it was good way to forget last week, where he lost on the second playoff hole.
"I've just got to keep reminding myself it was a great week for me, and I did everything I could do and just carry that on to this week and maybe things will go a little bit different this week," he said.
Hicks saved his best for the final hole, reaching the par five in two and making an 18-foot eagle putt. His week began with a big laugh. His back felt tight, so Hicks went to see a local chiropractor to relieve some of the pain. Then he went to the tour's chiropractor, who told him his glutes weren't activating.
"I almost fell off the chair," Hicks said. That was the phrase
Daly, however, caused the biggest stir. It was his best start since a 64 in the Byron Nelson Championship in 2005.
He can deliver a good round — or win a major, for that matter — out of nowhere. Still, this wouldn't seem to be the place for it. Daly tied for 20th at Pebble Beach in his rookie season in 1991 and he hasn't made the cut in 10 tries since then. And he still hasn't.
"That wouldn't shock me," Daly said when told of his record. "I still haven't made it yet."
It was a simple round, or at least he made it look that way. Daly missed three fairways and took 26 putts, two areas of his game that have cost him over the years. And for all the great golf he played, he couldn't stop talking about the weather. He usually sees Pebble like this only on a postcard.