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Can Daly Step Up at PGA Championship?

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Can Daly Step Up at PGA Championship?

Can Daly Step Up at PGA Championship?

Can Daly Step Up at PGA Championship?

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Sports commentator John Feinstein surveys golf's PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at Baltusrol in New Jersey. Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh are considered the favorites, but Feinstein says the long-hitting John Daly could be a factor.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The final major championship of the year in golf begins this morning. It's the PGA Championship at the historic Baltusrol Country Club in Springfield, New Jersey. Vijay Singh is the defending champion, but Tiger Woods is the favorite. He's coming off a victory at the British Open. Commentator John Feinstein joins us now.

Good morning, John.

JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So Woods and Singh have already been head to head in a tournament a few weeks ago.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, at the Buick Open in Flint, Michigan, they were paired together in the third round after Woods shot a remarkable 61 in the second round. And to be honest, Vijay Singh blew him away; ended up winning the tournament by four strokes. And you might think, well, OK, Vijay has a psychological advantage. But it so different when you're in a major, and Tiger this year has been the guy in the majors. Won the Masters, second at the US Open, won the British Open in dominant fashion. And Vijay Singh really hasn't really been a serious contender.

INSKEEP: Now Woods, you mentioned his record in the majors. If he wins this major championship, this is about as close as you could get to a grand slam without actually getting one.

FEINSTEIN: Yep. Let me give you the list of all the guys who've won three majors in the same year in history. Ben Hogan, 1953, won three out of three because the PGA and the British Open were scheduled at the same time back then, and Tiger Woods won the last three in 2000. That's the list. That's how hard it is to do.

INSKEEP: Now this golf course, Baltusrol, there's been some famous US Opens there, but this is the first time the PGA's been there.

FEINSTEIN: And the reason for that, Steve, is because the USGA has abandoned it as an Open site. David Faye, the executive director, and the executive board sort of made a decision after 1993 when Lee Janzen won there that it wasn't as good a golf course as Wingfoot, Shinnecock and Bethpage Black, all of which are in that New York metropolitan area. And they've taken the Open to those places rather than return to Baltusrol, where Jack Nicklaus won twice and that has been frequently an Open site. So the PGA came in and said, `Well, if the USGA doesn't want it, it's a pretty good name to put on our rotation.' And here we are.

INSKEEP: Well,there we go. And so, we have Tiger Woods in the field. We have Vijay Singh in the field. We don't have Ernie Els in the field; he's injured. Phil Mickelson...

FEINSTEIN: Right.

INSKEEP: ...up and down this year. Who else are you looking at in the field?

FEINSTEIN: Well, the one thing about the PGA is you never know, particularly in this major, who's going to pop up on a leader board. This golf course, though, with all the long par fours and finishing with two pare fives, I'm going to throw a name out at you that you haven't heard in a long time in a major championship--John Daly. John Daly's the only man in history to reach the 17th hole at Baltusrol--which is 651 yards long, Steve--there are expressways shorter than that. He's been playing pretty well this year. He's played the golf course before. He, of course, won the PGA Championship in 1991. He might not be a bad dark horse. And Davis Love, another long hitter of the golf ball who's done nothing in the majors this year, might be someone else to watch.

INSKEEP: John, thanks.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Those are the comments of John Feinstein. His book, "Caddy For Life: The Bruce Edwards Story," now out in paperback.

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