NEW ORLEANS — John Daly received a late invitation to play the Zurich Classic this week.
Boo Weekley had to withdraw Tuesday because of medical reasons. Because he was on a sponsor exemption, the tournament offered the exemption to Daly.
It will be only the third PGA Tour event this year for Daly, a two-time major champion who has not had his full tour card in six years.
Daly has been playing on the European Tour. In his two previous starts on the PGA Tour, Daly tied for 51st in the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook and tied for 52nd two weeks ago at Hilton Head Island in the RBC Heritage.
ROAD TRIPS: One of the perks Rich Beem received for winning the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine was a 10-year exemption on the European Tour.
He never used it because he didn’t need it – until now.
Beem’s only status on the PGA Tour is as a past champion, and sponsor exemptions have been limited.
In the last year of his exemption in Europe, he took up membership and is having more fun than he imagined.
“Every year, my agent asked me if I wanted to use my exemption,” Beem said Tuesday from his home in Austin, Texas, where he had a week off before leaving for Spain.
“I didn’t have a use for it. I was exempt over here, I wanted to be over here. I wish now I had taken a harder look at it, because I’ve played some amazing courses and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
The results could use some work.
Beem missed the cut in his first three events – the Joburg Open, Andalucia Open and the Hassan Trophy in Morocco – before he tied for 11th two weeks ago in Italy at the Sicilian Open.
He plays the Spanish Open next week, then gears up for a monster schedule – seven tournaments in eight weeks in which he will play in England, Wales, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France and Scotland.
Beem isn’t sure where this will lead.
The worst-case scenario is that he tries to go through two stages of PGA Tour qualifying school and tries to get his card back. Or, he could play great and work his way back toward the top 50 in the world.
IT’S NOW OFFICIAL: The PGA Tour’s tournament in Malaysia was trumped last year by a special event called the Shanghai Masters, which offered a $5 million purse with $2 million to the winner. It attracted a strong field, including Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk from the PGA Tour, and Rory McIlroy wound up beating Anthony Kim in a playoff.
Now, it’s an official tournament on the European Tour.
It will be called the BMW Masters, played Oct. 25-28 at Lake Malaren in Shanghai and offering a $7 million purse for the 78-man field. It again will be held opposite the Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, which last year featured a $6.1 million purse but does not count as an official win on the tour.
JACK’S LEMONADE: Jack Nicklaus is getting own drink. Arizona Beverages has created a partnership with Nicklaus to produce a new line of lemonade drinks called “Golden Bear.”
The line will feature three flavors – regular lemonade; mango lemonade and strawberry lemonade.