November 20, 2008 – Big-hitting John Daly kept his driver in the bag for most of his first round at the UBS Hong Kong Open on Thursday (November 20) – and was rewarded with a two-under-par 68.
That was enough to keep the American in the hunt as Chinese No.1 Liang Wenchong and South Africa’s Richard Sterne set the early pace at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling with six-under 64s.
Daly – famed for his “grip it and rip it” approach to golf – tempered his game to suit Fanling’s tight Championship Course.
“I used my driver only three times,” he revealed. “I’ve been hitting a lot of 1-iron and 2-iron rescue clubs this week, which kind of suits the course.
“I like old, traditional golf courses like this. It seems like they are obsolete, especially on our tour [the PGA Tour]. We don’t get to see too many anymore.
“I think there would be more players using the driver if it was wetter on the fairways, but the fairways are rolling pretty good.”
Daly said he would stick to the same strategy in the second round. “You can’t really change your game plan on this course, that’s what I like about it.
“I know exactly what to hit off each tee, and it makes it a lot easier than having to worry about it.”
Daly, 42, was happy with his first-round effort on his long-awaited reappearance at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
He last played the tournament 10 years ago, when he finished joint 19th.
The former US PGA Championship and British Open champion is looking to rebuild his career and climb back up the world rankings.
“I feel like I’ve been playing decent,” he said. “The putter has let me down pretty much all year, but ball striking wise, I feel like I’ve been hitting pretty good.”
Daly’s excellent round was spoiled by a bogey-bogey finish but he preferred to look at the positive side.
“You know, I’m not too disappointed, being a little rusty and having not played for a month. I think under par for the first round here is pretty good. I’ll take it.”