Can't miss this guy
Though it was hard to look at him with his robin's egg blue cap, pink shirt, blue vest and colorful pants he referred to as "Paiseltine," 1995 British Open champ John Daly put up his best score since a 66 at Royal St. George in 1993. Thursday's round of 6-under 66 could have been better, too — four putts lipped out or caught the edge of the cup. Daly, now 44 but down to 195 pounds after having a gastric band attached to his stomach in 2009, still strolled around with a cigarette and diet soda. But he said his "Wild Thing" nickname from his days of drinking alcohol might need tweaking. "Mild Thing?" he offered up. Now about those pants. "The good thing about them," Daly told the Los Angeles Times, "is you can get dressed in the dark, and any shirt is going to match."
Could have been better
Rory McIlroy was 8 under when he flew his approach dangerously close over the Road Hole bunker on No. 17, leaving himself a 5-foot birdie putt. Make that, and he goes to the 357-yard 18th with a shot at 62. He missed. "It sort of went through my mind on 17 that 62 would have been the lowest round in a major," the 21-year-old said. "That's probably why I missed the putt." In the nine times McIlroy has competed at St. Andrews, as an amateur and a pro, he has broken 70 every time. "I've actually never played St. Andrews when the weather has been that bad," he said. "That's probably why my scores have been quite good." South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen looked as though he might have a chance to join McIlroy. He also was at 8 under playing the 17th until making a bogey, then failing to pick up a stroke on the last hole and settling for a 65.
Wind in his head
Though he came in with a chance to take over the No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career with a win at St. Andrews, Phil Mickelson double-bogeyed the 13th and got his only birdie on 18 for a 1-over 73. "It happens over here," Mickelson told ESPN. "It kind of crept into my attitude starting out. I woke up and saw it was just pristine conditions and not a breath of wind, and then as I was getting ready to go out it started to pick up and it kind of affected my attitude a little bit. But I fought hard today. I drove it into bunkers and bushes, but I was able to salvage a lot of pars. … I need the good end of the weather." Today's forecast is for rain and wind in the morning when Mickelson tees off. It may not clear until the afternoon.
Wish I played sooner
Retief Goosen turned on his television just before 10 a.m. and saw John Daly at 7-under par through 11 holes. But the wind already was whipping flags when he teed off, and the two-time U.S. Open champion equated his 69 to a 66 had he played in the morning. He bore no grudges. Such is the fickle nature of links golf. "You've still got to make a score," Goosen said. "It doesn't matter how easy it is."
Compiled from Times wires, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.