Friday, April 9, 2004
Daly storms out of Augusta National
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mike Weir can put away the clubs. The only
thing on his weekend schedule is giving away a green jacket.
Weir became the first defending Masters champion since Jose
Maria Olazabal in 2000 to miss the cut, falling short by a stroke
when he bogeyed the 18th hole Friday.
The Canadian lefty pulled himself together after putting two
balls in the water in the first round, signing for a 79. The second
round was nine strokes better, but he couldn't get up-and-down
after hitting through the last green.
"I played well," Weir said. "I just hit the wrong club on the
At least Weir had a reason to hang around for the weekend: The
defending champion puts the green jacket on Sunday's winner.
The others were free to go.
That included John Daly. A popular winner at Torrey Pines two
months ago, he showed his temperamental side when he stormed away
from Augusta National after a bogey on 18.
Daly stopped off in the locker room for all of two minutes,
grabbed a plastic bag and an autographed guitar and went looking
for his car, flanked by two security guards.
When reporters asked if he would stop to talk, Daly never looked
back. When a woman asked for an autograph, he brushed right past
Daly had plenty of company in his frustration. Craig Stadler,
the 1982 champion now playing on the Champions Tour, missed a
four-footer for par and the cut on 18. Others didn't come that
close: Len Mattiace, who lost to Weir in a playoff last year;
three-time champion Nick Faldo; British Open winner Ben Curtis; and
Adam Scott, who captured The Players Championship just two weeks
Jack Nicklaus came up short, too, and didn't back off earlier
pronouncements that this likely was his final Masters. Of course,
the Golden Bear has been known to change his mind when the azaleas
"Is there any reason why I should come back?" Nicklaus asked,
shaking his head. "That's the point. What can I accomplish by
He seemed content with back-to-back rounds of 75, which left him
two strokes off the 4-over 148 cut. At least he redeemed himself
for a horrible, humiliating performance last year, when he opened
with an 85 -- his worst score ever at Augusta.
"Really, the only reason I came back this year was to make up
for what I did last year," Nicklaus said. "I was embarrassed by
Tom Watson, his emotions churning after the death of longtime
caddie Bruce Edwards, had hoped to honor his friend by making the
But the putter let Watson down. He struggled to a 76 for the
second day in a row, unable to get anything going on Augusta's
slick greens. He didn't have a prayer after stumbling in Amen
Corner, his tee shot at No. 12 splashing down in Rae's Creek.
"My friend was on my shoulder," Watson said. "He just didn't
read those putts well. Or maybe I didn't listen that well; that's
more like it."
Edwards, who caddied for Watson for almost 30 years, died
Thursday morning after battling Lou Gehrig's disease.
Daly was a last-minute qualifier for the Masters, getting in
through that hefty payday at Torrey Pines -- his first PGA Tour
victory in nine years. Despite all the ups-and-downs in his
tumultuous life, he usually plays well at Augusta, finishing as
high as third and missing the cut only once in his previous nine
He tried to rally after a 78 on Thursday, putting himself in
good position when a birdie at No. 13 put him 3-under for the day.
But he bogeyed the next hole with a three-putt and went to 18
needing a par to stay alive.
Daly's second shot flew the green, and a terrible chip skidded
past the flag and rolled onto a lower plateau, about 40 feet away.
"He's done," a fan mumbled.
Exactly. Daly's last-ditch putt came up about 5 feet short and
he rushed out of Augusta.
The race for the cut was actually quite thrilling. There was
still hope for Daly, Weir and a whole bunch of other guys at 149,
if only one more player would join them.
In the next-to-last group, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington
sank short but testy putts to save par. If either had missed, 57
players would have made the cut instead of 44 -- the smallest number
That group includes two amateurs. Public Links champion Brandt
Snedeker and U.S. Amateur runner-up Casey Wittenberg both slipped
in at 148.
"Relieved is the best way to put it," Snedeker said.
Contrast that with Larry Mize, the 1987 Masters champion and a
seeming shoe-in when he went to 18 needing only a bogey to make the
Mize put his tee shot in the trees and had to play his second
shot on the adjacent 10th fairway, but he was still in good shape
when he pitched to 20 feet of the flag.
What happened next was painful to watch: The first putt came up
4 feet short and the next one sped 10 feet past the cup. His hopes
dashed, Mize took two more putts for a triple-bogey.
"I was trying to make birdie," he said. "That's got to be
your mentality. You don't want to think you're going to make par."
But he sure would have taken a par as he drove down Magnolia
Lane, the clubhouse in his rearview mirror.