Daly lashes back at critics, says shoulder injury was real

By Andrew Both

GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) - John Daly shot back at critics who questioned his decision to withdraw from last week's U.S. PGA Championship with a shoulder injury after struggling through a weather-disrupted second round.

The long-hitting American, who opened with a four-over-par 76, was nine over for the tournament when play was halted in the second round at Whistling Straits.

Daly, who was a longshot to make the cut at the year's final major, said he thought he had a separated shoulder and was advised by a doctor not to continue playing that weekend.

His decision to pull out of the tournament prompted some to suggest Daly simply did not want to get up early the next day to complete the round knowing he had little chance of making the cut.

"All I know is I've never ever faked an injury on this tour," the two-time major winner told Reuters after shooting a two-under-par 68 at the Wyndham Championship on Thursday that left him seven strokes off the pace.

"I have quit plenty of times but never have I faked an injury and the guys here know it ... when you're hurt, you're hurt. I wasn't playing great at the PGA but I still had 11 holes left (in the second round)."

Daly said he first tweaked his shoulder on the first hole of the second round and hurt it further when he hit out of a difficult lie at the second hole.

The 44-year-old, who used to be the longest hitter on tour, said tests later showed he had a sprain.

"The pain felt the same as if I'd separated it again, so it scared the hell out of me," said Daly.

Daly, who also withdrew from last year's edition of the PGA at Hazeltine National, returned to action on Thursday with two bogeys with four birdies at Sedgefield Country Club.

India's Arjun Atwal (61) grabbed the first-round lead with a bogey-free round that included nine birdies.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)