Thursday, December 14, 2017
Golf

John Daly wins Champions Tour's Insperity Invitational for first victory since 2004

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — John Daly is happy to be back on top, no matter how bad he may have looked finishing it off.

Daly closed with three straight bogeys Sunday but hung on for his first PGA Tour Champions title, a one-stroke victory in the Insperity Invitational.

"It wasn't pretty at the end," Daly said. "But I got it done, and that's all that matters."

Daly, 51, had not won on any tour since the PGA's 2004 Buick Invitational, a span of 13 years, 2 months and 22 days. The last time he held the sole possession of the lead entering a final round, as he did Sunday, was at the 2005 World Golf Championship American Express Championship; he lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods.

He hasn't exactly torn up the 50-and-over circuit since debuting at the Woodlands a year ago.

Wearing American flag pants, Daly shot 3-under 69 to finish at 14-under 202 and earned $322,500. He opened with rounds of 68 and 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Kenny Perry into the final round.

Perry shot 69 and Tommy Armour 67 to tie for second.

Daly eagled the par-5 first and appeared to be cruising, with 17 under through the 15th hole to lead by two shots. Poor tee shots on the final three holes led to mistakes that Perry and Armour could not take advantage of in trying to chase him down.

As Daly walked up the 18th green, he knelt and kissed the large, colorful umbrella printed on the fairway to honor the late Arnold Palmer.

When Daly tapped in the winning putt, he pumped his fist. Moments later, friends and colleagues — including players Esteban Toledo and Michael Allen — ran out to spray their pal with champagne. Daly closed his eyes, leaned back and soaked it all in.

"A win is a win, man," he said. "And I didn't think it would come this soon."

Daly has had his moments at the Woodlands. He had four top-10 finishes in 15 appearances when the Houston Open was played here, including a playoff loss to Vijay Singh in 2005. Daly tied for 17th at his first Champions event last May.

The two-time major champion becomes the 12th senior tour member to win on all three PGA circuits (also the European Tour).

"Now I can say I'm a champion on the Champions Tour, which is really cool," Daly said. "Hopefully, I can keep this confidence going."

Perry looked as if he might run down Daly until his approach to No. 17 landed in the water.

"I had my opportunities to flip the scores on holes, but I never could do it," Perry said. "But good for him. That first win is always special."

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