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Daly displays his skills of past

John Daly, teeing off on No. 6, opens with 4-under 68 and trails the leader by two strokes after the first round. He won the PGA Champion­ship in 1991.

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John Daly, teeing off on No. 6, opens with 4-under 68 and trails the leader by two strokes after the first round. He won the PGA Champion­ship in 1991.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — There are plenty of people rooting for John Daly to continue his latest surprise run at the PGA Championship, including another big hitter in Tiger Woods.

Daly dusted off his long drives and showed the touch around the greens that won him two majors, including his breakthrough victory in the 1991 PGA, shooting 4-under 68 Thursday to finish two strokes behind first-round leader Carl Pettersson.

Daly, 46, has lived off sponsor invites as he shuttles between the PGA and European tours. Recently, though, he has felt his game improve enough that he isn't that surprised by his round at the Ocean Course.

"I've been playing good, just trying to keep it at my own pace, just be myself and play golf," said Daly, coming off a five-place tie last week in the Reno-Tahoe Open.

That has always been good enough for some, like Woods, who was just 13 when he first played with Daly. Woods was in awe of Big John's power even then, sharing a story of a mid-iron, uphill, par-5 shot that Woods swore hit the center of the green and bounced out of bounds.

"I've never seen anybody hit the ball that hard," Woods said.

Daly used his length to navigate the 7,676-yard layout — by 2 yards the longest in major championship — and a short game that kept him near the top. He briefly gained a share of the lead at 4 under with eagle on the par-5 11th, then gave back a stroke a hole later.

Daly held firm with two more birdies on the way in.

"It's just a course I feel I've got to take it on," he said.

Playing through: Woods was in a tough spot in a bunker on the left side of the 13th fairway, needing to get it up quickly over a lip to cover the 178 yards remaining to the green. His caddie leaned toward him with one last reminder, and it had nothing to do with the yardage.

This really wasn't a bunker.

Because of the amount of sand and waste areas at Kiawah Island, the PGA of America has declared the entire course "through the green." That means players can ground their clubs in the sand and take practice swings — even in bunkers that look like sand traps found on any other course.

Woods set his club in the sand at address and let it rip.

"It felt a little weird to put my club on the ground," he said. "It just felt weird, it really does. Because then it gives a whole different perspective now. It feels like, 'Okay, well it's from the fairway, but it's not,' because the club settles and as you take it back, there's an imprint."

Daly displays his skills of past 08/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 10:47pm]
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