Despite shooting a round of 77 on the opening day of the Sicilian Open, the ‘godfather of Italian golf’ was all smiles. That was because he had just played with his old buddy.
Seventeen years after their memorable duel at The Open Championship at St Andrews, John Daly and Costantino Rocca were paired together at Verdura Golf Resort near Sciacca, Sicily, where the American posted an opening round of 71 to claim the bragging rights once again.
Not that Daly was minded to broach the subject of their famous tussle at the ‘Home of Golf’ in 1995, which ended with the American lifting the Claret Jug after seeing of Rocca in extra holes.
Instead, it was left to the third member of their group, Frenchman Thomas Levet, whose talent on the golf course is matched by his sense of mischief off it.
Daly revealed: “It was Thomas who brought it up. I didn’t really want to bring it up – if you win you normally just keep your mouth shut! But we had a lot of laughs out there, and I really enjoyed myself. I haven’t seen Costantino for ages, so it was good to catch up with him again. The last time I saw him was at the Italian Open three years ago, and it’s always good to see him because he’s such a great guy.”
For his part, Senior Tour champion Rocca, who is widely credited with inspiring the likes of Matteo Manassero and the Molinari brothers to take up the game, was impressed with the state of Daly’s game.
He said: “It was a great day, even though I didn’t play too well. John’s still young, and he’s still hitting the ball a long way. He played well, and hit some very good shots – probably better than when he beat me at The Open!
“We had a little chat about that first thing this morning, but because it was so cold we didn’t want to stand around for too long! I enjoyed playing with John and Thomas – they’re both great guys.”
The trio will resume their friendly rivalry at 12.50pm on Friday afternoon, when pride and a starting berth in rounds three and four is at stake.