Holy Toledo! Golfer adds punch to round

Fan fa­vorite Daly with­draws with neck, shoul­der prob­lems

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY MATT CHARBONEAU The Detroit News

Grand Blanc — As Este­ban Toledo waited to make his run at a birdie on No. 18 Fri­day af­ter­noon in the first round of the Ally Chal­lenge, he told his cad­die how he was go­ing to cel­e­brate if the putt dropped.

And why not cel­e­brate. Af­ter all, Toledo was at least 60 feet away from the hole, so run­ning in a birdie of that length is worth hav­ing some fun.

“I told my cad­die, ‘If I make this putt I'm go­ing to throw a left hook,’” Toledo said with a smile. “So, it was the right time.”

As the putt dropped to give Toledo a first-round, 6-un­der 66 to sit one shot off the lead at the in­au­gu­ral Cham­pi­ons Tour event at Warwick Hills Golf & Coun­try Club, the former boxer slapped his left bi­cep and fired off a few punches in the air, much to the de­light of the crowd around the 18th green.

Putting to­gether a few more com­bi­na­tions over the next cou­ple of days is the goal.

“I'm just happy to be here, to be hon­est with you,” Toledo said. “I can't wait for to­mor­row, can't wait for Sun­day. I think the spec­ta­tors are go­ing to have a heck of a time, the spon­sors. I mean, everybody's go­ing to have a good time, so can't wait for to­mor­row and Sun­day.”

Toledo might be the hap­pi­est golfer on Tour. He’s had quite the jour­ney through­out his ca­reer, play­ing on the PGA Tour in 1994 and again from 1998-2004. In be­tween and af­ter his time on the main Tour, Toledo had sev­eral stints on the Nationwide Tour, now the Web.com Tour.

He never won on the PGA Tour, but his best fin­ish hap­pened to be at the 2002 Buick Open. He started the fi­nal round that year on shot be­hind Tiger Woods. Af­ter shoot­ing 68-67-67 in the first three rounds, Toledo strug­gled with a 73 on Sun­day and ended four back of the un­flap­pable Woods.

“I got a lot of great mem­o­ries,” Toledo said. “I think it was one of those great­est mo­ments that I ever played with Tiger com­ing down the stretch on Sun­day. I guess if I were to shoot 66, I prob­a­bly would have beat him, but I ended up short. But I learned a lot.”

Toledo has four wins on the Cham­pi­ons Tour, his last in 2016.

Daly done

The ever-pop­u­lar John Daly teed off around 12:20 p.m. Fri­day, but just a cou­ple hours later, he was pack­ing his things.

The two-time ma­jor win­ner and crowd fa­vorite with­drew from the tour­na­ment be­cause of what Tour of­fi­cials said was a neck and shoul­der in­jury. Daly was 5 over af­ter eight holes but with­drew af­ter hit­ting his tee shot on No. 9

Af­ter Thurs­day’s pro-am, Daly talked about be­ing lim­ited, though didn’t men­tion any is­sues with his neck or shoul­ders. “The knees are OK,” he said, Bart Bryant also with­drew af­ter play­ing four holes.

Foul day

It wasn’t a great day for a pair of local golfers.

Lake Orion’s Tom Gil­lis, who has fin­ished in a tie for third in his only two starts this sea­son, shot 6-over 78 in the first round.

Tom Werk­meis­ter, of Grandville, got to 2 un­der early in his round but fin­ished even par with a par 72.

Dale G. Young/ Detroit News

Lake Orion’s Tom Gil­lis, play­ing just 35 min­utes from home, strug­gled in the open­ing round, shoot­ing a 6-over 78. He beat just one player.

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