News & ToursAugust 8, 2008

Verdi: Daly Turns To Rick Smith

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- On the practice range at Oakland Hills CC early Friday morning, John Daly hit balls and an engaged observer was Rick Smith, the noted swing instructor. But it was more than a social visit.

After being dismissed by Butch Harmon in a celebrated parting of the ways, Daly mulled which way to go and wound up placing a call to Smith. "I'm trying," said Daly, who has more than his plate besides breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Daly drove up from his home in Arkansas to see Smith last Sunday, and the two of them are working together during the PGA Championship. "I don't have any business dealing with John's personal life, nor do I want to," said Smith, who recently added Chris DiMarco to his roster of students. "But if John wants help with his golf swing, I'm happy to do it. He's got unbelievable ability, as everybody knows, and I really think he wants to play better. I like John as a person, because he has a big heart. And I like his ability, which involves more than just hitting the ball a mile. He's got great hands, a wonderful touch around the greens."

Daly had a creditable first round in the works Thursday until he struck a 4-iron to the monstrous par-3 17th hole. The ball took a hard left upon landing and wound up just out of bounds, although there is plenty of room beside the hole. Daly was ferried back to the tee for another attempt and wound up with a double bogey. He shot 74.

"That was unlucky," said Smith. "Throw those two strokes out, and he's just shot a real nice round."

Daly double-bogeyed the 10th hole to start his round Friday. He made four more bogeys and one birdie to finish with a 75 for a two-day total of nine-over 149.

-- Bob Verdi

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