Shriners Open notes: Focused Daly in early contention with 66

A familiar name was lurking near the top of the leaderboard toward the end of Thursday’s first round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

John Daly, the slots-playing, chain-smoking party animal, turned in a tidy 5-under-par 66 and was two shots off the lead at TPC Summerlin. And he did it the conventional way, driving the ball in the fairway, hitting greens and making putts.

No scrambling from the seat of his orange-checkered pants. No crazy shots. Just good, solid, bogey-free golf.

"I’ve been hitting the ball pretty decent for me," said Daly, who has earned $150,245 this year and is No. 193 on the PGA Tour’s money list. "I’m close. I just got to keep grinding. This is probably my last tournament this year. Hopefully something good can happen."

If Daly, who is tied for 11th heading into today’s second round, stays out of the casinos, he might have a chance for good fortune come Sunday.

"I used to get so excited to come and gamble, have fun, not worry about the golf," he said. "But the golf’s a little more important now, and I’m concentrating on that. You get down there (to the casino) and get on a little roll. If you don’t get on a roll, next thing, you look up, it’s 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning and it’s like, ‘Oh God, I’ll miss my tee time.’ "

■ AUTOGRAPH HOUND — Usually, Nick Watney is the one doling out autographs for his fans. At Wednesday’s pro-am, the roles were reversed, with Watney, Sharpie pen in hand, seeking the signature of one of his boyhood idols — Hall of Fame football player Jerry Rice.

"The first thing I can remember about the 49ers is Jerry Rice," said Watney, who is from Sacramento, Calif., and a lifelong Niners fan. "Once I saw him on the tee, I was definitely going to get his autograph."

■ REBEL ROUNDUP — Six former UNLV golfers are in the field. Among them, Chad Campbell and Chris Riley tied for the best round, at 3-under 68.

Riley made an eagle at the par-5 16th to get to 3 under. Campbell finished with birdies on two of his last three holes. Former NCAA champion Warren Schutte, who at one point was 3 under thanks to an eagle at 16, finished with a 2-under 69.

Eddie Olson, who received a sponsor’s exemption and was playing in his first PGA Tour event, turned in an even-par 71. Bill Lunde finished with a 1-over 72, and Charley Hoffman, who has been one of the PGA Tour’s hottest players, struggled early and finished with a 3-over 74.

■ FOWLER SLIPS — Rickie Fowler didn’t take advantage of the pristine early conditions as he made double bogey at the par-3 17th and finished his opening round at 3-under 68.

Fowler, who splits time between his Summerlin condo and his home in Florida, was at 4 under before he hit his tee shot into the water, took a penalty stroke, was unable to get up and down and wound up taking a 5.

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