Joe Daley has been there since Day 1
Joe Daley hits out of a bunker to the 17th green. Daley won the Constellation Senior Players Championship Sunday at Fox Chapel Golf Club.
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Much of the golfing world may be hearing Joe Daley's name for the first time, but as his friends and family will affirm, he has been around the whole time.
Not in the spotlight, as Daley, winner of the Constellation Senior Players Championship, is now. But in the background, constantly working, playing small tournaments in small towns and in whatever and wherever else it took to make it.
Chuck Britton, a friend of Daley's, has known him since their teenage years when they played junior golf together.
"We watch what the sportscasters say, we hear what people say, 'that he came out of nowhere,' " Britton said. "He's been working on his game for 30 years and played in tours all over the world. He's put in a lot of work getting where he is right now -- a lot of work -- and he's been playing really well."
All the work culminated into an impressive 14-under victory for Daley, edging out Tom Lehman by two strokes at Fox Chapel Golf Club to win his first Champions Tour major championship.
His wife, Carol, was on hand as well as his sister and many of his friends to relish the victory.
"Joe made me suffer right down to the final putt, but he had a great last putt," Carol Daley said. "When it fell, I just let out the biggest 'wow' ever."
"Are we surprised that he won? Maybe that he won," Britton said. "But are we surprised that he did really well? No."
Richard Bordner of Pittsburgh was there to watch Daley as well. His sister has been friends with Daley for "five or 10 years now," Bordner said, so Bordner came out to support him.
"[My sister] has always known Joe Daley was a champion and now everybody else does."
Bordner brought enough emotion for he and his sister, visibly shaking and on the verge of tears as Daley was being presented with the trophy.
"I don't think I could drive a car for about three hours," he said.
Carol Daley deservedly celebrated her husband's victory with some champagne.
"He's always come back. There's no quit in him and there never will be any quit in him. One of the nicest guys you ever want to meet," she said. "He's always trying to make himself better and that makes you really believe in him. I never once doubted him."
"This is what's great about golf. You earn it," Britton said. "It's not the names, it's what you do with that golf ball, and he did it. He won it."
And while the crowd cheered loudest over these past few days for defending champion Fred Couples, eventually, many came around to Joe Daley, including the staff.
"You know, when the crowds are rooting for [Couples] and they don't know Joe, there were still just so many volunteers that came up to me and said 'What a great guy, he's been so nice to us this week. We're rooting for him.' It's been a wondrous journey," Carol Daley said.
He's no longer just some "Joe Schmoe" to golf fans, but now, officially, Joe Daley, seen just as his family and friends have seen him for all these years.
"He is such a good person. Nobody deserves it more than Joe," Bordner said. "And I think golf deserves it. I think golf deserves Joe."
First Published July 2, 2012 12:00 am