John Daly knows what’s at stake this week at the SAS Championship, which begins Friday at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, North Carolina. The 52-year-old big hitter in funny pants is in danger of missing the Champions Tour playoffs without a strong performance.
Daly currently sits in the 66th spot on the leaderboard, with the top 72 qualifying for the playoffs, the first round of which begin next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic.
Daly is 150/1 to win this week, well behind favorite, Bernhard Langer at 7/1.
At the beginning of the year, it didn’t seem like Daly would end the season so close to landing on the wrong side of the playoff bubble. He began the year with a third-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational, and two weeks later, finished eighth at the Chubb Classic.
Freak Injury at Hooters
But in April, Daly was involved in a freak accident that injured his right knee. Daly was in the parking lot of the Augusta, Georgia, Hooters with his RV, signing autographs and selling merchandise during the week of the Masters. A woman ran into his parked RV, and Daly had to jump out of the way of the out of control car.
He did manage a tied for fifth at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge two weeks later, but the pain in the knee increased, and he was forced to withdraw from May’s Insperity Invitational and the Regions Tradition.
Daly was going to try and play in the US Senior Open, but was denied the use of a golf cart by the USGA, and skipped that event, as well as another in July.
The last time he played an event was August, 8, when he finished tied for 20th at the 3M Championship. But even though he had to withdraw from three events in August and September, Daly only fell from 61st to 66th in the standings. He should be able to get into the first round of the playoffs despite how – or if – he plays this week.
Achy Breaky Hart
One player who is outside the top 72 is Dudley Hart. The 50-year-old became eligible for the Champions Tour in August, and has only been able to play six events. As a result of the limited schedule, he is currently 89th in the standings, and will need a strong showing to get into the playoffs.
Complicating matters is Hart is battling a bad back, that forced him to withdraw in late September at the Sanford Invitational.
“I’ve been battling a bad back for a while,” Hart said. “I’ve had two spinal fusion surgeries. I was rolling along without too many issues and I hit one tee shot in South Dakota and just caught a stabbing thing in my back. Every swing after that it was doing same thing for about five holes.”
He believes he’ll be ready to go this week, though. Hart is a 125/1 pick to win at the SAS Championship.
“I don’t anticipate any issues because I’ve practiced the last few days,” Hart said. “I’m not gonna go crazy. I’d say I’m on a little bit of a pitch count. We don’t hit balls for three hours at a clip anymore. I feel pretty good, knock on wood.”