Joe Daley learned at rookie orientation that as a PGA Tour member, he had access to the vast TPC network. He was at tour headquarters that week and wasted no time taking advantage of this perk, sneaking out to play the TPC Sawgrass and holing out from the 10th fairway for eagle.
That was December 1995.
Ben Crenshaw was the Masters champion. Tiger Woods was a two-time U.S. Amateur champion in his second year at Stanford.
Daley could not have imagined it would take him more than 17 years to get back to Sawgrass, and certainly not under these circumstances. He finally returns next week, at 52 the oldest player to make his debut in The Players Championship.
''I've played a lot of courses between then and now,'' Daley said.
The most significant course was Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh, where last July he won the Seniors Players Championship by two shots over Tom Lehman to earn a spot in The Players Championship, the tournament with the strongest field and richest purse.
That he never pl...