ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO

John Daly tees off from the 17th tee during the third round of the Insperity Invitational golf tournament on Sunday, May 7, in The Woodlands, Texas.

By BILL BROTHERTON

The chances of John Daly competing in the U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club in Peabody June 26-July 2 increased mightily yesterday, as the fan favorite won his first PGA Tour Champions title, a one-stroke victory in the Insperity Invitational in Texas.

The victory moved Daly up to 8th place of the Champions Tour money list. The win gives Daly an automatic exemption to the Senior Open.

The 51-year-old Daly had not won on tour since the PGA Tour’s 2004 Buick Invitational. He hasn’t exactly torn up the 50-and-over circuit since debuting at The Woodlands a year ago.

Wearing American flag pants, Daly shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 14-under 202 and earned $322,500. He opened with rounds of 68 and 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Kenny Perry into the final round.

Perry and Tommy Armour III tied for second. Perry had a 69, and Armour shot 67.

Daly eagled the par-5 first, and appeared to be cruising to victory, up to 17 under through the 15th hole to lead by two shots. Poor tee shots on the final three holes led to mistakes that Perry and Armour could not take advantage of in trying to chase down Daly.

As Daly walked up the 18th green, he knelt and kissed the large, colorful umbrella printed on the fairway to honor the late Arnold Palmer.

When Daly tapped in the winning putt, he pumped his fist. Moments later friends and colleagues including players Esteban Toledo and Michael Allen ran out to spray their pal with champagne. Daly closed his eyes, leaned back and soaked it all in.

“A win is a win, man,” he said. “And I didn’t think it would come this soon.”

The two-time major champion becomes the 12th member of the senior tour to record a win on all three PGA Tour circuits.

“Now, I can say I’m a champion on the Champions Tour, which is really cool,” Daly said. “Hopefully, I can keep this confidence going.”

For tickets to the U.S. Senior Open at Salem CC, go to http://2017ussenioropen.com/

 

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