'The Pressure Was Really On, I Had One New Golf Ball Left' - When John Daly Made 18 By The Water At Bay Hill

'Wild Thing' shot 85 at the 1998 Arnold Palmer Invitational - including an extraordinary 18 on the sixth hole

John Daly in action during the 1998 JCPenney Classic in Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida
(Image credit: Getty Images)

John Daly was always (and arguably still is) known for doing things 'his way' - rarely following the crowd or conforming to the behaviours of a professional golfer.

And, to be fair, it brought him a lot of success. Chiefly, two Major championships and a handful of PGA Tour and European Tour crowns.

'Wild Thing' was a monster driver of the ball, too, and regularly stood some way in front as the biggest hitter on the PGA Tour. Yet, his extraordinary talent and unique mindset sometimes got him into a bit of on-course trouble.

Rewind to March 1998, then, when Daly produced one of the all-time highest single-hole scores ever seen in professional golf.

Standing on the tee of the 543-yard, par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill (his 33rd hole of what was then a 36-hole Sunday) - with a huge lake in between him and dry land the other side - Daly was two-under for the tournament. He walked off the green 11-over.

First, he pulled a drive into the water short of the green. After dropping around 20 yards further forward, Daly proceeded to send five consecutive shots with a 3-wood into the drink. And, according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times hours after the event, Daly remained "nonchalant, casually holding out his hand to his caddie each time he received a new ball."

His seventh strike (counting as his 13th shot) was sent much further right in order to try and guarantee some sort of respite, but that bounced off dry land and back into the water.

Shot 15 - taken with a six-iron - bounced off a rock separating water and land short and left of the green before booming over the flag and into a green-side bunker on the opposite side.

A successful bunker shot proceeded two putts, finally bringing an end to Daly's misery.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Daly said: "It wasn't that I didn't care, but I guess after 32 holes I lost my patience. I had the courage to keep going for it, but I didn't have the wisdom to bail out right. I kept aiming farther and farther right, but the more right I aimed, the more I hooked it left."

In a historic video recounting the incident shared by Skratch on X, a reporter shared that Daly had also said that "the pressure was really on" because he "had one new golf ball left."

Fast forward by almost 25 years, and Bryson DeChambeau could be seen attempting to go one better than Daly by successfully bombing towards the green at No.6.

In 2021, and having already missed dry land during a practice round, 'The Scientist' turned down the opportunity to make up for his failed attempt during Thursday and Friday's competition.

Yet, on Saturday, all factors lined up and DeChambeau went for it - *full force*.

The bulked-up American crunched a drive over the imposing lake and into the right rough just short of his target area, 370 yards. And on Sunday, he did it again. But it went even further this time, 377, and into the right-side bunker guarding the front of the green for the mere mortals.

Although playing partner Lee Westwood would also make birdie on the Sunday (Bryson carded a four three times on the sixth that week), the Englishman was powerless to prevent DeChambeau from lifting the title on 11-under.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.