Coming up to the 10th we were all disappointed to have birdied only seven holes on the front side. At least two other groups were already under par in double digits. To break the tension, Daly pulled out his putter on the tee and launched a drive that landed, according to his own estimate, about 275 yards out. The crowd cheered wildly for The Man. Daly downed what had to be his 12th Diet Coke of the day.
When I fluffed a fairway wood on my second shot on 10, Daly, who had been watching, strolled up to me. "You know, Amy," the British Open champion said solicitously, "you should choke up a little on that club and hit it more off your left toe. And you should start your swing with your weight already back on your right foot, like this. That's what I do."
On the next tee he stood just a few feet away, watching, while I lined up my driver off my left toe, planted my weight firmly on my right foot and let it fly, hitting the ball absolutely flush and striping my drive 205 yards down the right center of the fairway. I was ecstatic, and I could tell Daly was pleased too. After taking a prodigious gulp from his soda, he smiled, said, "Yeah!" and gave me a high five. I thought the golfing gods had never been so kind.
At the 13th I finally contributed a putt for the team, making a five-footer for birdie. I was feeling pretty fine as we made our way to the 14th hole. Rucker and I chatted about football; he revealed that he has a Miami Dolphins logo tattooed on his right hip. Daly said he once thought about having his scalp tattooed with the words GRIP IT AND RIP IT but didn't because he knew he would "just get suspended anyway."
When Daly drove the green on the short 288-yard par-4 15th, we were all faced with a slippery, slightly downhill 22-foot putt for eagle. Morton putted long; Sambora just missed left; Rucker burned the right edge. It was left to me, then Daly. I stepped up and felt curiously calm and confident. As the ball left my putter it seemed to spin with perfect pace. I could feel the ball being drawn inexorably to the hole. Dead-center perfect, it dropped in. I raised my arms in a victory salute, feeling like Jack Nicklaus when he won the '86 Masters. High fives all around. I thought to myself, My life is complete. Unfortunately, our round wasn't, so we played out the string, finishing the tournament with a score of 14 under par, good enough to tie for eighth place. The winning score was 19 under, shot by Paul Azinger's team, which included country and western singer Vince Gill and film actor Robert Wuhl.
I didn't care about not winning. It was enough to have gotten golf tips from John Daly and heard all about Darius Rucker's love affair with the Dolphins (and how they make him cry). And it was enough to realize that on the fairway to heaven, pull hooks, lost balls and putts that refuse to fall are more trifles than tribulations when your partners are Hootie and The Man.