Can Daley Win Two Majors in a Row?


Joe Daley came out of nowhere to win the Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh. Now he's searching for a second straight Champions Tour major in the U.S. Senior Open, which starts Thursday at at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.

The 51-year-old journeyman finished the Players at 14-under 266, two strokes ahead of Tom Lehman (69) and three in front of Olin Browne (65) for his first professional victory since the 2005 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open on the Nationwide Tour.

In addition to earning $405,000, the win gave the Pennsylvanian full Champions Tour status for a calendar year. "(It feels) like jumping out of an airplane, except I'm not going 120 miles an hour." an exultant Daley said at greenside after his final putt dropped at Fox Chapel.

This week Daley is playing the U.S. Senior Open for the first time. Despite his Senior Players Championship title, Daley still had to go through section qualifying, earning a spot after shooting a 71 on June 14 at Edina Country Club in Minnesota.

But Daley is used to doing things the hard way in golf. After working as a wholesale credit manager following graduation from Old Dominion, he turned pro at age 32 and plied his new trade on the mini-tours and at other tournaments before his breakthrough win two weeks ago in Pittsburgh.

This week Daley will be getting a lot of attention. On Wednesday, he met with reporters and discussed his chances at Indianwood and what the Players victory meant to his psyche and confidence. Here's what he had to say.

MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. We're pleased to welcome Joe Daley to the media center. Joe is making his U.S. Senior Open debut this week and comes off a very exciting win at the Senior Players Championship earlier this month, his first Champions Tour victory. Congratulations. Joe earned a spot in this week's field by shooting a 71 during sectional qualifying. We were commenting he did it the hard way. And he's playing tomorrow at 1:50 p.m., his grouping alongside Jerry Pate and Brad Bryant. Joe, congratulations. Welcome to the U.S. Senior Open debut here. Congratulations. What are your expectations for this week coming off such an exciting win?

JOE DALEY: Well, my expectations haven't changed. I'm going to play the golf course one shot at a time. And look forward to the opportunity to play in the tournament.

Q. Did you take anything away from your win at the Senior Players to prepare for the Senior Open?

JOE DALEY: Yes, I did. Just simply sticking with my same preparation routine. Practice, work out, eat good, get my rest, and I'll be prepared to play tomorrow morning.

MODERATOR: Very good. Why don't we open it up to questions for Joe.

Q. Congratulations on that victory. One thing that I've heard a lot about you guys is how delighted they were that you won. A lot of guys on the tour and the Champions Tour were pulling for you. I mean, I've heard stories that one of the things that happened afterwards, guys were calling the media officials and so forth. What does that mean to you to have that kind of support and respect for the other guys, even though you're not one of the stars.

JOE DALEY: It's spectacular. I mean, I've known a lot of these guys for a lot of years. I played the regular tour for two years although I had status on the Nationwide Tour for - well, since '95, I've had status. But what happened for me is the game and the competition got incrementally better over the course of time. But regardless of my status, I still played in qualifiers, whether it was for the Nationwide or the PGA Tour, I would apply myself and put myself to the test to get better year after year after year. I dealt with injuries and other disappointments and obstacles as I went along, but I figured out a way to overcome them and then keep applying myself to improve and see how good I could get. I'm on the right track. So I look forward to the opportunity to be here this week.

Q. Does being out here winning a major, does that make it easier for you going forward, or does that just put more pressure on you going forward?

JOE DALEY: No doubt about it, it makes it easier. I can set my travel plans, and my wife are saying, wow, just simply because the opportunities are there for events. You know, coming up, don't have to go to Monday qualifying, and I can plan whereas before, when you play money qualifying, you can't plan ahead much. Because it's all how your performance is on Monday, and you have to set yourself some new goals for that week and apply yourself the next Monday. So it's pretty tough to do when you've got to get a top-10 spot to get into the next week.

Q. Joe, we asked Bernhard Langer yesterday, he's a fitness guy, what he thought of the possibility of fitness being a factor with the hilly walk and the heat. You as well are a fitness guy. Do you feel like you have the advantage because of that?

JOE DALEY: No doubt about it. I've devoted a lot of time to working out and staying fit, doing regimens to help my balance, sense of balance and equilibrium. Improve my diet immensely. Plenty of fruits and vegetables. When I'm better fit, my confidence is better, and it just helps the outcome.

Q. If I could do a follow up, in your time, having to move from qualifier to qualifier, how tough was it for you to keep your dietary regimen? That's tough. I know we travel, as staffers on the road, it's tough to do it. How do you do it?

JOE DALEY: Well, the best way for me is when I can stay in a place where I can have a little kitchen and go to the grocery store and buy what I want to eat, whether it's fish or chicken or beef or veggies and fruit. I limit the carbs so my blood sugar doesn't get too high. That's the best way for me to do it because if I have a tendency to go out and eat, there's more breads and potatoes and pasta, and you have a couple of beers, and that leads to what it leads to. I find that the better I eat, the better I feel, the better I sleep, the better my performance is going to be.

Q. What are your thoughts on the course? How many practice rounds have you gotten in so far?

JOE DALEY: This a great golf course. I played 18 holes yesterday, and I played 9 holes this morning. Wow, if it firms up like they're saying that they're going to get it firmed up, it will play just even tougher because that will make the fairways seem even smaller than they actually are, especially if your tee shots go to the side.

Q. What do you think of 17? Is it a pivotal hole out there?

JOE DALEY: No doubt it's going to be a pivotal hole. Hit a 7 iron yesterday into the wind. Hit a 6 iron today, rolled on the green and went one or two yards. I'm hoping the golf course firms up, bouncing in and chasing into the green. I'm hoping the golf course plays that way. It will be interesting to see if that, in fact, does happen for me.

MODERATOR: Joe, a fair number of players this week are commenting on the uniqueness of the 18th hole. Can you comment on 18?

JOE DALEY: I don't know that it's unique. It is what it is. You try to get a shot pin high and preferably have an uphill putt to that pin. There are bumps and rolls in it in a big way. You get it up and down. But it is what it is. I mean, everybody's going to have to deal with it. So I'm just going to be patient and apply what I'm looking at.

MODERATOR: Any additional questions for Mr. Daley? Joe Daley, congratulations. We are so excited that you're here at the U.S. Senior Open. Good luck this week.

JOE DALEY: Thank you.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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