VANCOUVER - For the past few years, John Daly has been attracting more attention for his garb than his game.
He's making noise with both at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Wearing a pair of outlandish pink and green pants and with an enthusiastic crowd on his tail, the face of Loudmouth Golf fired a three-under 67 in Saturday's session at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, moving within three shots of the lead heading into the final round.
“The fans, especially in Canada, they've always been good to me,” Daly said. “It just feels great to play good for them.”
Daly's status as a fan favourite at Shaughnessy is no surprise.
His status as a contender for the championship is.
The long-hitting 45-year-old, who logged on to his Twitter account last week to lobby for a sponsor's invite to the latest staging of the RBC Canadian Open, will start Sunday's final round just three strokes off the pace set by American Bo Van Pelt.
After mixing five birdies and two bogeys on a smokin' hot Saturday, he even chatted with the media for the first time this week.
Daly stormed away from the scoring tent after the first round after being fingered for a random drug test. On Friday afternoon, he four-putted his final hole for a triple bogey and once again blew past reporters. On Saturday, though, he seemed to be basking in the spotlight.
In fact, one radio reporter told the trimmed-down Daly — he reportedly now weighs 187 lb. — that it's “good to have you back.”
You have to go way back to remember his heyday.
Asked after Saturday's third round to recall the last time he was in such good position, Daly initially mentioned the 2004 Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines. He has five PGA Tour triumphs on his resume, although he hasn't won a thing for seven years.
“It's been a long time,” Daly said.
If he can end the slump during Sunday's final round, he won't have to plead for a sponsor's exemption next summer.
Still, the two-time major champ insisted he hasn't been paying attention to the electronic leaderboards at Shaughnessy. With rough this long, he can't afford to let his mind wander.
“I think the golf course is so hard, you just kind of forget about that. You take one shot, one hole at a time,” Daly said. “Any hole, any time can get you out here, so I think playing this golf course is all you can do.
“It would be nice (to win), but it's so hard you're thinking more about the golf course.”