124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

The game owes him one

November 18, 2010

It has been suggested that the game owes no one anything, but there is at least one exception and his name is Joe Daley. The game owes Daley one.

In the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in 2000, Daley missed earning his PGA Tour card by a single stroke. The stroke could be traced to the 17th hole of the fourth round in the six-round affair, when he holed a simple four-feet putt that mysteriously hopped out of the hole. Daley had hit a perfect putt, but the cup inside the hole was slightly askew and the ball hit the top edge of the cup and jumped back out.

"It was the damnedest thing I had ever seen," Daley said after the round, echoing an opinion shared by everyone who had witnessed it.

Daley, who played the PGA Tour in 1996 and 1998, never made it back to the tour.

Now 50, he is playing in the Champions Tour Qualifying Tournament at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla., where through 54 holes of the 72-hole tournament, he's tied for 15th. Regular tour membership is awarded those who finish in the top 12.

The game owes him one. Here's hoping it repays its debt in the final round on Friday.

-- John Strege