Daly shocked at fast start
American takes clubhouse lead with bogey-free 67 at windy Doha
Last Updated: February 2, 2012 9:13am
John Daly: Five birdies and not a single bogey despite the tough conditions
John Daly said taking the clubhouse lead with a five-under 67 on day one of the Qatar Masters came as a big surprise.
With strong winds kicking up sand and making club selection difficult, the second leg of the European Tour's Middle East swing was a stern test for the star-studded field.
But Daly, who won the 1995 Open at St Andrews in windswept conditions, coped admirably and closed with birdies at two of his final three holes to sign for a bogey-free 67.
"For me it's probably one of the best rounds I've ever played in the wind like that."
Daly on his opening 67 Quotes of the week
"It was brutal. I'm pretty shocked myself shooting five-under," said the American.
"I had five and a half weeks off and really didn't touch the clubs much so being the first tournament of the year I'm real happy.
"For me it's probably one of the best rounds I've ever played in the wind like that because you can hit some decent shots and it can get away from you so fast especially as hard as this course is."
Daly is currently 543rd in the world, no longer has a full PGA Tour card in the United States and last hit the headlines for walking out of the Australian Open in November after hitting a succession of shots into water and saying he had run out of balls.
But he's still a welcome presence on the European Tour and says that will be his focus in 2012.
"This year I'm basing everything around the European Tour instead of the PGA Tour so hopefully I'll get in a lot more (events) on the European side.
"The goal is just to try and get my card on the European Tour and maybe get in the top 60 (the leading money earners who contest the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai). That's kind of the goal."
With cameramen and many spectators wearing masks to stop sand flying in their faces, Daly said he could have done with one too.
"It's weird," he said. "You just feel like you're eating a lot of sand out there today."
After finishing his round early, the 45-year-old said a trip to the range to keep his game sharp certainly wasn't on the agenda in the afternoon.
"I don't think you can. I don't feel like eating anymore sand," said Daly. "It's hard to work on your game in this (weather)."