As Bryson looms, we remember John Daly’s infamous 18(!) at Bay Hill

John Daly's 18 at Bay Hill featured five consecutive water balls and an approach shot off a rock and into a bunker.

PGA Tour | @Skratch

This week, Bryson DeChambeau plans to attempt a miraculous distance feat, even by his own Herculean standards. On the sixth hole at Bay Hill, a 555-yard par-5, DeChambeau might (if weather allows) attempt to drive the green.

“If it’s not into the wind, I can get there,” he said matter-of-factly during his practice round on Wednesday.

Time will tell if DeChambeau is apt for the challenge — an estimated 350-yard carry over the lake that protects the hole. Should he succeed in clearing the water, No. 6 at Bay Hill will represent little more than another notch in his rapidly expanding belt. Should he fail, he’ll have company in the form of John Daly.

Twenty-three years ago, Daly recorded one of the most memorable one-hole performances in the history of the game on No. 6 at Bay Hill. During his final round at the 1998 Arnold Palmer Invitational, Daly attempted to drive the lake with his 3-wood.

Twenty minutes later, he recorded a 13-over par 18 for the hole.

“The temptations of how you cut the lake — well here’s John Daly,” the announcer said. “Look at the number there. That’s a touchdown, extra point, three field goals and a safety. I’d have gone for two.”

Things started off innocently enough when Daly’s initial tee shot found water. Then, as if scripted directly from Tin Cup, Daly lost it in a fit of McAvoyian rage, hitting five consecutive shots into the water.

“His 13th shot ended up in the hazard,” chimed the analyst. “The key shot on the hole, it appears, was his 15th shot. It was a 6-iron into the green, hit a rock and bounced up into a greenside bunker. Got it up out of that bunker in 16 and two-putted for 18.”

Perhaps equally as impressively as the 18: Daly would go on to birdie his next hole, the par-3 7th. He’d finish the day a 13-over 85, and more importantly, with just enough equipment to remain in business.

“They did say when he got in he was in a good spirit,” the analyst said. “He told the press that the pressure was really on him, he had one new golf ball left.”

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James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.