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April 25, 2013

Daly calls Kinderlou a gem

Says the long course suits his game

VALDOSTA — John Daly enjoyed his Wednesday morning Pro-Am. Playing with Kinderlou’s founder, John W. Langdale Jr., and former Lowndes County Sheriff/Commission Chairman Ashley Paulk, Daly was all smiles as he stepped off the 18th green into the group of local media.

“It (Kinderlou) is great,” said Daly, a two-time major champion and five-time PGA winner. “I played with Johnny, who built it. ... We just had a great day today. It is just awesome. (This course) is a gem.”

Daly’s Pro-Am appearance Wednesday, which ended with his team claiming first place with a score of 50, was his first look at Kinderlou Forest before his opening round this morning.

Regardless, Daly was highly impressed with the course and everything it had to offer for this week’s event.

“This is one of the best golf courses I have ever played,” Daly said. “I wish I was 20 years younger playing it because it is right up my alley. Not too many courses where we get to hit drivers on most of the par 4's and 5's. Plus, I have never had to hit more 4-, 5-, 6-irons into more par 4's. That is where golf is going to be in about 10 years, and I think Johhny and his guys did it on this course a few years in advance. ... It is just an awesome golf course. It isn’t easy; it is difficult. It is long, but it is definitely one of the top 10 that I have ever played. It fits my eye off the tee.”

Daly, who finished ninth on the PGA Tour in driving distance in 2012 and has always been known for his driving ability, will have no problem hitting the ball down the long fairways at Kinderlou this week. One thing that will pose a problem for Daly and the rest of the field will be using long irons into the greens.

“It is tough because I am not used to hitting so many long irons into par 4's. It is not something I have practiced a whole lot in my career,” Daly said. “A lot of the par 4's, if I hit an 8-iron into them, I am usually frustrated. It is a great week to work on that. It is precision golf.”

Daly will tee off in today’s first round from the par-4 10th at 7:55 a.m. He will play with Matthew Goggin and D.J. Brigman.

When asked about his appearance in this week’s Web.com Tour event, Daly said that it makes sense to play these type events when he can’t make it into a PGA Tour event, in hopes of eventually earning his way back to full-time status on the PGA.

“The way the Q-school is going to be structured this year, it is better for me to stay home and when I am not playing in a PGA event to play in the Web.com,” Daly said. “No disrespect to the Web.com, but we want to be on the PGA like all these other guys do. We want to play the Tour. Not only is this a stepping stone for these younger guys to get on Tour, but it is still a place for us to play when we are older and when our status isn’t as good. To have a place to play is an honor. I have three more years until the Senior (Champions) Tour and I can’t wait for that. I have a long way to go, though.”

Daly isn’t the only past major champion in this week’s field. 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem, who will tee off at 1:40 p.m. from the 10th tee today, also joins Daly in this week’s event. Woody Austin, who finished second in the 2007 PGA Championship, is back in this year’s South Georgia Classic, after finishing in the top 10 of this tournament last year.

“You are seeing a lot more major champions on this Tour,” Daly said. “That is how hard it is to keep your (PGA) Tour card.”

While he continues his climb back to full-time status on the PGA Tour, some wonder if Daly’s game is nearing the form that helped him win the 1991 PGA Championship and 1995 British Open Champion.

“I have always said that if there were just 14 holes I would be the greatest player that ever played,” Daly said. “I have struggled this year with big numbers. Some of it has been bad shots and some have been bad breaks. I have tried to come out of them with a good bounce back.”

Regardless of whether his game will be at its peak, Daly will surely be entertaining this week. So will his clothing choices, which he described for the week as “loud,” sparking a good laugh from the media in attendance.

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