John Daly won for the first time on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, his first title in 13 years. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
Having gone 13 years without a victory, John Daly could be excused for wondering if he would ever again win a tournament.
Daly, 51, ended the drought on Sunday when he won the Insperity Invitational at The Woodlands, Texas, for his first career PGA Tour Champions title.
"It feels really good, just to get the monkey off my back," Daly said after finishing at 14-under 202 for a one-stroke victory. "Now I can say I'm a champion on the Champions tour, which is really cool. Hopefully I can keep this confidence."
Daly shot a 3-under 69 over the final 18 holes to pocket $322,500. Kenny Perry (69) and Tommy Armour III (67) tied for second. Kevin Sutherland (67) took fourth at 205, and Jay Haas (67) came in fifth at 206.
Daly's winning margin would have been bigger but he bogeyed each of the last three holes. He began his final round with an eagle 3 on the first hole and sprinkled in five birdies and four bogeys.
Daly's victory was his first since he captured the 2004 Buick Invitational. And that victory at Torrey Pines ended a nearly nine-year run without a championship.
Daly won two majors -- the 1991 PGA and 1995 British Open -- but his PGA Tour career unraveled as his personal life spiraled out of control.
Daly had well-publicized drinking issues and there were also reports of marital problems and gambling troubles.
Despite his personal demons, Daly has maintained a solid level of popularity, and he received plenty of support from the gallery during the 54-hole event.
It also didn't hurt that his golf game was solid, particularly the putter that helped him avoid problems as he shot rounds of 68 and 65 before Sunday's final stroll around the 7,002-yard course at The Woodlands Country Club.
"The putter these last two days -- incredible," Daly said. "My ball-striking the first round was probably one of the best I've had in my life, and I didn't make anything. But on this course, if you're putting great and hitting it somewhat decent, you've got a really good chance to win."
Daly recalled the course from his PGA Tour career, so he felt comfortable with knowing how it typically plays.
"It's not a long course, but there are so many left to right holes that favor a cutter," Daly said. "Everything sets up good for me on the tee, whether it's a 2-iron or a driver. And I feel really good about these greens. At least coming in, I know I'm going to play decent."
Perry, who has won eight times on the Champions tour, was disappointed to lose by a stroke, but he was quick to give credit to Daly.
"It was a good battle," Perry said. "John played nicely all day, and I was always playing from behind. I had my opportunities to flip the score on holes but never could do it. Good for him. That first win is always special."