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PGA Championship spotlight is on Tiger Woods' momentum and John Daly's wheels

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Golf

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- John Daly was a sight to behold Wednesday, rolling around Bethpage Black -- a course that traditionally doesn't allow carts -- with his green-swirled surfing shorts, a cigarette dangling from his lips and his platinum mullet glistening in the sun.

"Let's go, Johnnie!" rang the encouraging shouts from the gallery, cheers for an unvarnished man of the people knocking his way around a brutal, undulating, 7,426-yard public course.

This could be a weird PGA Championship.

One month removed from the most dramatic Masters in memory, the spotlight swings to Long Island, where two of the most talked-about competitors are someone who got the most out of his talents -- recently, that is -- and someone who's gotten the least.

The golf world is waiting to see if 43-year-old Tiger Woods can follow his victory at Augusta National with another major championship at Bethpage, where he won the U.S. Open in 2002. Depending on the oddsmaker, he's either the favorite or close to it, even though it would be stunning for him to assemble back-to-back major victories after an 11-year drought.

And then there's Daly, who has two major wins and one bum knee. He was granted a waiver to use a cart in the tournament because of arthritis in his right knee. That's controversial because a lot of his problems were brought on by excessive weight and hard living.

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"I can't walk but six or seven holes," Daly told the Los Angeles Times last month. "It's osteoarthritis. Just had the meniscus cut out. ... I'm going to get a cart for the PGA Championship, and I'll hopefully get one for the British because I hate to miss it. But if I walk six holes, this (knee) will swell up like a grapefruit."

Woods, who seldom takes a jab at anyone, made his feelings clear this week when asked at a news conference about Daly's use of a cart.

"As far as J.D. taking a cart," he said, "well, I walked with a broken leg, so ..."

The last competitor allowed to use a cart in a major was Casey Martin, now the golf coach at the University of Oregon. He was born with a circulatory disorder that nearly cost him his leg. He was permitted to compete in two U.S. Opens, in 1998 and 2012, while riding in a cart.

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